I landed in Tangier on the 1st of May and after dropping my backpack at the hostel, I went about to find the tomb of Ibn Battutah.
Of all the travellers I met during my travels in Morocco only two had heard the name Ibn Battutah, and neither of them knew who he was! It was a sad fact especially since each traveller I met knew very well who Marco Polo was.
Even more disappointingly neither of the three guys who worked at the hostel I stayed at in Tangier (Ibn Battutah’s hometown) knew the way to Ibn Battutah’s tomb, arguably the most important site in all of Tangier, even though it was hardly a 3-5 mins walk from the hostel..
Armed with a very primtive vocabulary of Arabic I set out to locate the tomb by asking around. Barely a few steps from the hostel door I ran into a bunch of young guys trying to sell me Hashish (after a few days in Tangier, I realised selling hashish was no big deal, in fact smoking it was very common and even socially acceptable in the cafes). Hamza who was standing with the group said he knew a good local eating place as well as the location of the tomb and said he could show me both, not realizing that everything in Morocco comes at a cost especially over eager locals and touts giving you directions.
Inevitably after a very long stroll circumambulating around the medina we reached the tomb. All the while I stayed inside the small approximately 8 * 12 feet mazaar (mausoleum) Hamza waited outside, even though I had thanked and bid farewell to him. Eventually he walked with me back to the hostel and I realised why we took the longest possible route to Ibn Battutahs tomb when he asked me for massive tip for showing me ‘such a difficult to find way’ and for hanging around all that time (uninvited)
After getting ripped off on the first day of my journey, I worked out a successful tout avoiding strategy for the rest of my trip – only ask the shop keepers for directions if you get lost in the winding, never ending streets of the medinas, they will guide but won’t leave their stalls to come along and show you the way .