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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Africa, Morocco

How my Fake Husband and a Smile made for a perfect day

How my Fake Husband and a Smile made for a perfect day

I entered the medina (old city) alone. I knew I would face some advances from men, so I tossed a ring onto the appropriate finger in preparation for any advances. I would smile, and laugh when locals and store owners gave me sympathetic smiles after determining I was alone, but upon hearing of “Jean” (aka my fake husband) they smiled approvingly. This exchange led to a lot of free goods for me. I will never stop smiling – nor divorce Jean!

I wanted to see the Bahia Palace and the Saadin Tombs. Old pretty buildings? There is no better way to spend my day. The locations are not far apart in distance – but in reality they are separated by tiny winding, circular, lanes. I asked for help at every second corner. The same conversation ensued each time:

“Are you alone?” *sympathetic smile
“Yes, but only for the day”
“Are you single?”
“No, my husband Jean is back at the hotel”
*Smile “That is excellent, please come in – only look, no buy”

So I did just that, I would look at everything. Smell all the products, taste all the sweets, gaze at all the sparkly things. If it’s free – why not. But after playing my part, they always made me laugh and smile, never once asking me to buy or offering their “guide” services. After laughing over my solo-ness and thanking them for the compliments over my Green eyes – they always offered me a “gift”.

I received 5 offers of kindness from smiling. First I sat on a bench to do some people watching (and I was tired of walking in the sun), a cookie seller sat next to me.

“Want a cookie?”
“La, shakran (no, thank you)”
“Oh, you speak Arabic?”
“La, only that sadly. Whats your name?”
“I’m Mohammad. Here have a cookie, it’s a gift, its free.”
“Is it really free? Or will I have to pay afterwards?”
“No, it is a gift, always free. Are you alone?”….

Score, a free cookie. And it was a delicious cookie at that – coconut flavoured. I stayed and chatted a while with Mohammad. Then he directed me towards the Saadin tombs. On the way I passed a soap stall and the owner came striding over to me.

“I’m Khalid. I’m a Herboriste” – showing me his name tag and smiling
“Hi Khalid. I’m Chrystal, I’m Canadian”
“Oh, Canada – it is cold there. Come into my shop – it’s free to smell!”
“Ok, Only smell – I cannot buy”
“That is ok. I like Canadians. Here have a gift: it is a pumice stone. Are you alone?….”

A Pumice Stone? I was just thinking about how I could use one of these. My skin has taken a beating from the Moroccan heat. I thanks Khalid the Herbolist and promised I’d return for Mint Tea.  I found the Saadin tombs and began meandering. As I walk outside and take a seat to appreciate the heat a woman walks up

“Buy a beautiful bracelet. 3 for 50 Dirham.”
“la la la, Shakran (no no no, Thank You)”
“Ok, only 3 for 30 Dirham”
“No, I do not want any, but thank you”
“Ok, keep this small one as a gift. Are you alone?…”

I’ve eaten a cookie, received a pumice stone, and now been gifted with a silver bracelet. This day it turning out to be fabulous (and free!). But it’s home time – I must find Bab Ghemat (Ghemat Gate) to catch my bus out Rt Ouarzazat.

“Excuse me, can you tell me which way is Ghemat Gate?”
“It is a long walk from here, you should take a taxi”
“No, I’d rather walk, just a direction to get me on my way, Shakran (Thank You)”
“Ok, I will take you to the road, follow me. Is Free don’t worry. I am Mazrou”
“Hi Mazrou. I’m Chrystal. If it is free I will come”
“It is a long way, let me ask my friend to take you via motorbike – Is free.”
 “No, I can just walk, but thank you”
“No, no, no, it is really far, 40 minute walk – By bike, only 5 minutes. Its free”
“Well, if it is free I will go”

I meet Abdul, Mazrou’s friend. He smiles and motions for me to climb on the motorbike behind him. He drove me to Bab Ghemat, waved goodbye. And I stood baffled that I got so much for smiling at people and laughing at their jokes.

I hopped on my bus, heading home. I need to get off at the Total Gas Station. I’m looking out the right window in search. I see a gas station so I hop out. Wrong gas station. I wonder how far it is and figure I might as well get started. It’s a long way whether I start now or wait 30 minutes for the next bus. Drats.

*Honk Honk* “Avez-vous besoin d’un tour?” (Do you need a ride?)
“Oui, a la station de petrol Total. Je vis dans Ladame. Merci Merci Merci!” (Yes, to the Total Gas Station. I live in Ladame. Thank you Thank you Thank you)
“Etes-vous marie?” (Are you married?)
“Oui, a Jean, il est dans l’hotel.” (Yes, to Jean, he is in the hotel)
“Ok. Bon Bon. Vous etes Anglais?”
“Parle Anglais Oui, mais je suis canadien” (I speak English yes, but I am Canadian)
“Je parle francais y arabe – pas l’anglais. Nous sommes ici!” (I speak French and Arabic – not English. We’re here!)
“Shakran Shakran!” (Thank You, Thank You)

And with that, I hitch-hiked a free ride with a very nice man from one gas station to the next. Walked through Ladame and into my temporary home at Peacock Pavilions.

Shows you how much a smile can get you and how much a fake husband can save you from!


  1. This is just amazingly awesome. Kinda rude to call “Jean” fake though!

    • why Thank you. Jean is my fake husband. Jeannie is my fake facebook WIFE. Husband and Wife are different. I would NEVER think of calling Jeannie fake.

      • Jolly good then. I really enjoyed this one. I also leave for Ireland tomorrow! You have inspired me to travel. Well done!

  2. I have never been anywhere that I needed a fake husband but it sounds like you are better off with one here.
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    • Its only really a concern when you are a solo female wandering around. Men will hiss at you and make more forward comments if you’re “Single”. And well – I just love to lie about how wonderful my fake husband is.

  3. A day that starts with a free cookie is always a good one! I have a single friend that wears a cubic zirconia when traveling solo to some places just to ward off unwanted attention…works like a charm!;-)

    • I completely agree! Free Cookies for EVERYONE! My ring is actually the Pink October Birthstone….not perfect for fooling people in most countries but here works like a charm. Most people dont wear rings in Morocco or if they do they are simple gold bands. They dont do the unnecessary extravagance of bling bling diamonds that we know!

  4. omg, does jean have a brother? i got so harrassed in marrakech, i couldn’t wait to get out of there! next time, i’m wearing a ring, and “bringing my husband!!”

    • You know what, now that I think of it, I do believe Jean does in fact have a brother; Claude. He is handsome and single and willing to be your fake husband at your command.

  5. I see the other side of it. Moroccan are very trusting and generous people, it shows how respectfull they are towards wifes shopping by themselves and mainly foreigners. It’s a culture thing. Moroccan are very curious as anywhere else, everybody always ask questions: like where are you from? why are you here? do you have family? where is your family? etc…

    • Yes I certainly agree. But having wandered the city as a “single” female – the men assumed I was open to advances – which I am not. I didn’t want to have anything turn into an uncomfortable situation – so I talk about my fake husband who saves the day for me and the locals so nothing uncomfortable happens and no cultural conflicts arise!