Negotiating my way around Essaouira, Morocco.
When walking around the medina of Essaouira, you will notice there is a wide long street going through, this is the main street. When walking from the beach you should walk through this street past all the clothes stalls and you will get to the fruit and veg stalls. If you can find the little pathway on the left that leads you to the a riad of other stalls. You will have to walk through the live animal section which is also quite shocking but this is an experience worth experiencing, especially when you want you or your kids to learn a little more about where meat comes from. This area is mostly chickens. There is also fish which can add to the smell.
If you really want to avoid this area of the riad, then just walk a little further and there is a smaller entrance where you can walk in straight to the fruit and veg. Going into this riad area is cheaper than on the main street.
Learning a new way of shopping is interesting when the only way you know is the polite English way.
My experience of shopping for fruit and vegetables has been a learning experience. From learning numbers is French and Arabic to trying to calculate in my head with the currency of Dirhams whether it’s a good price.
The first time I attempted to buy some fruit and veg, I found the street of the fruit and veg that I couldn’t find the day before. I didn’t want to get too much as I still had to carry it back. I didn’t attempt any negotiation on the first time. A lovely lady who was from Casablanca helped me communicate to the shop owner. I bought a melon, 3 courgette, a bunch of bananas and a few apples. It came to 14 MAD which is about £1.20. No need to get it cheaper. I carried on and found some dates which I got for 40 MAD for 1kg. They’re were the soft, big, tasty ones. Totally worth it.
A few days later armed with a few key Arabic words a decided to try again. This time there were many more shops open as the week of Eid celebrations were finished and everyone was back to normal. Most of the words I learnt to say was mostly about blessing from god and blessing what they did. A lot of the language of small talk is religious. My experience of trying to speak Moroccan Arabic is good and the locals seem to enjoy me trying to speak. It’s making an effort that goes a long way.
Read more about my trip in Seville.
On this trip I managed to buy a kilo of tasty olives for 16 MAD. I didn’t go lower as this price was so good in my European eyes.
Next was a few fruit and veg. I wanted a watermelon which I think my first offer of price was £25 which I knew was silly eventually I got a “smaller” watermelon for £1.80. Smaller was still absolutely huge and heavy. I got some tomatoes for 4 MAD a kilo which again was so cheap didn’t want to go down. Got some grapes and a bunch of bananas. All came to 50MAD.
Next I got some beetroot which I negotiated from 8MAD to 7 MAD a kilo.
I went back to the stall that I bought the dates from, and got a 2 kg box of dates for 65 MAD. Which is cheaper than the previous trip.
The fruit and veg that are in season are really cheap. As a tourist, it’s hard to know straight away what the prices of the food is and also whether they do sell it cheaper to the locals. They do have a local price and a tourist price so trying to compare it to what I normally pay takes a lot of quick maths.
Tips for food shopping in the median:
Learn to count in either French or Arabic. Remember there are different dialects of Arabic so be sure to learn the Moroccan version.
Learn a few words in Arabic to help you not look like a typical English tourist. Make the effort and you will see smiling faces.
Don’t pay more than you would normally, just say no. ’La’ in Arabic.
After I had all the food I wanted, I attempted to carry it back, but I failed. In the end, I found one of the local trailer carriers and asked them to carry it. It cost me 10MAD to get it all back which was worth it.
It all a new experience but totally worth it.