A tourist getting the monkey treatment (photo by Laura Aradi - NB: I don't know this guy, but he seems like a good sort)
Getting directions is a peculiar experience here. The first thing I want to say is that still, no-one has given us directions and then asked for money.
A few teenage boys have had a go at guiding us in what I’m certain would be a professional capacity, but they always inform us in alarmed tones that we’re walking away from the Jemaa el Fna (the main square) when we’re going back to our Riad, which they wouldn’t know how to find anyway.
But everyone who has actually given us directions has been polite and thorough, including a guy who was carrying a monkey – these guys make their money by putting their monkeys on people’s shoulders and having them take photos, but he didn’t make a single attempt to put the monkey onto either of us.
[A digression – it’s impossible for us to watch any of the snake charmers in the Jemaa Al Fna because as soon as we pause near them, somebody tries to put a snake around Briony’s neck so I’ll take a photo, and pay him. Why they think this is an appealing offer is beyond me, but I guess if a guy who has a snake coiled around your wife’s neck asks you for money, you’re likely to be generous].
Back to the guy with the monkey. As I say, he kept the monkey to himself, which was nice of him.
BUT, he confidently sent us in completely the wrong direction (Briony wondered if it might have been because the street he sent us to started with B, as did the place we were trying to find). The monkey guy was not alone in this – even a taxi driver today took us to an odd, ‘sort of right but really a long way off from where we were going’ destination, on a trip that would have been a five minute walk – and he seemed genuinely confused rather than deceitful.
What I’ve begun to realise is that not only do most of the roads not have street signs, and not only do Lonely Planet and the Rough Guide disagree on what some streets are called, but most residents don’t seem to know street names. If anything, they know the name of particular arches (called ‘Babs’). It’s not entirely clear to me how anyone finds their way around.