Anatomy of a backpacker meltdown

Enjoy this guest post from our friend, Angelica from Tweaked and Untitled!

I have this bad habit to keep going, going, going until I’m gone. Although I’ve been giving myself kudos for getting as far as I have in Morocco without jackshit, I’m starting to think it was just a generous streak of beginner’s luck instead of legitimate survival skills. With the exhilaration of a new country and a powerful currency, I put the pedal to the metal and didn’t stop until it was almost too late. Lo and behold, I came within an inch of a nervous breakdown after four weeks on full travel throttle. That might seem like some chump change for most, yet please bear in mind that I’ve been in the vagabond grind for over a year now. Not stopping for a pause leads to a supernova level of destruction…

There is glory in covering landscapes, seeing once-in-a-lifetime sites, deciphering cultural customs, eating street cuisine, learning new languages, figuring out transportation, and wondering where I’m going to sleep. But, it can lead to absolutely zero down time. If you throw in some ice cold showers, shitty ass food, being alone, and getting your patience wore down by persistent Moroccan touts – my spirits were in the dumps and it all deteriorated into full-blown Angelica versus Morocco mode. It seemed like only a one-way ticket to the United States of America could save me from stabbing the next motherfucker in the eye who said “konichiwa” to me on the street. And, trust me, that’s one bad place to be.

Maybe I deserve a little credit – even my most seasoned comrades of travel have told me that Morocco is a stressful fucking place and being a woman alone compounds the hassle. Word on the traveler grapevine is that only India and Egypt’s sexual harassment in the public sphere get any worse than my current scenario. Moroccans are generally nice people, especially the women, but the amount of attention I get as a foreigner is overwhelming. Although there are moments of breathtaking redemption from locals, nowhere in my life have I been hounded like this. Trust me, it’s winter in this country and my ass is covered from head to toe. One can’t help but develop a distaste for this place from the day to day experiences and this leg of travel is getting under my skin.

This is not just a case of vendors / curious folks / beggars, it’s a full blown gnarly rash of disgusting young men that pollute Morocco’s public sphere. In some places, the volume is less and walking around with another male traveler helps. Some examples? I counted six (6) men today, trying to to convince me to come to their house and following me for an average of 15 minutes a piece while I tried to buy some groceries in the market. No does not mean no, ignoring them does nothing, and aggression only leads to serious drama. Otherwise, stepping off a bus in a station is like being mobbed by the paparazzi for rides, taxis, hotels, and cafes. Nevertheless, my sense of diplomacy is dwindling with the infinite amount of touts, fake guides, horny assholes, and other shitheads that target Western women. I should say that it doesn’t feel dangerous, just four weeks of this bullshit has exacerbated my exhaustion enough to want to crawl back to home to the safety of California.

They say that a grand don’t come for free and tourism is a goldmine. As for the hassle factor and warped ideas about non-Muslims, I’m not really blaming Morocco. Taking a glance at the loads of package tourists getting off Ryan Air and Easy Jet flights says it all. If walking too slow and gaudy cameras around their necks were the only transgressions, I’d jump for joy. However, attempt to imagine a middle aged British woman’s enormous stomach hanging six inches out of her undersized shirt while cussing out a waiter for not speaking better English. Backpackers with bloodshot eyes reeking of hash and furious that they are prohibited from entering the mosque. Puke. Witnessing interactions between Moroccans and tourists has gotten to the point where I feel like I’m watching an episode of trashy reality TV series, wishing I didn’t speak the language to understand the scenario.

The moral of the story? Not sure. This rant is over and I guess it’s been another cliché of finding my place in it all. I’ve come to find that sitting on a barren Moroccan roof top while chainsmoking and drinking tea brings me a lot of peace. Oh yeah, I called home to get some love from my Grama & Mom and my clothes don’t smell like a decomposing animal carcass anymore. Got my shoes shined, read a book, cut my hair, and couldn’t be bothered with the world 20 feet from my roof top. Am I new woman? By no means. However, taking a few days to myself has kept the dreaded traveler’s burnout away. Now off to meet up with my friend Vanda to work at a cafe and tree nursery in Marrakech. Not exactly a vacation from a vacation, yet I’m staying put for a few weeks with a sweet friend and then recalculating the next few steps.

Phase two? Getting the fuck out. Turkey or bust!


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