Your holiday disaster: In a Moroccan contest of wills, Ian Russell lost his temper with the tout who would not take no for an answer
Sunday 07 March 1999
The location of the Hotel Yuk (as we soon began to think of it) was a major source of our troubles. A mile away from the medina, standing on its own in a virtual no-man's-land, and filled almost exclusively with English-speaking package-holidaymakers, it was an obvious place for the local youth to seek gainful employment.
They swooped as soon as we left the relative safety of the unkempt Yuk's grounds. Most, though persistent, would become discouraged after a few polite refusals. But unfortunately, there was one fellow ...
This most persistent of all salesmen stuck to us like glue for, quite literally, hour after hour. I blame my wife for uttering that most irresistible of come-ons: "Good morning". That was all that this at-first-friendly- but-later-quite-scary character needed. He then proceeded to offer his services as a guide (no thank you, no thank you, no THANK YOU), as an interpreter and as a carpet-salesman (quite common in Tangier). We walked steadily onwards, attempting to ignore the lad who, half an hour later, was still pushing his bike with one hand and gesticulating furiously with the other. There was only one thing for it - we'd leave the pavement and head for the beach. Our new route was fine ... for all of two minutes. Then he appeared, still pushing his bike, never actually riding it, in front of us once more. Another half hour and we had reached the centre of town, but the hustle and bustle there simply made our friend more agitated. When it was (more than) obvious that we wouldn't take up any of his many offers of assistance - we simply wanted to wander around on our own - he started to shout at us, keenly encouraging a crowd to gather round and shower abuse on these two rude foreigners who were in his country only to ignore the locals' hospitality.
The scenario wasn't dangerous - most people were perfectly friendly - but it was disconcerting and as the insults continued in our direction, something snapped inside us. After all the frustration, WE began to roar at each other.
This swiftly removed the spotlight from our man and, incredibly, the onlookers soon lost interest in these two crazy tourists having a go at each other. When my wife and I parted company, her stomping up the hill, me stomping downhill (to meet a few minutes later just around the corner) the mob dispersed and our pest didn't know what to do with himself.
We were to see him only one more time during our stay. Again he had his bike with him, though this time he was riding it, and once more he was in the vicinity of our hotel. He shouted some pleasantry at us as he rode past.
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