It's all about winning the little battles.
Yesterday we went to negotiate an order with the man who sells building materials and then on to the metal worker's to ask him to put together an item we had designed.
It honestly takes nerves of steel to walk over to a pile of breeze blocks (no, I didn't think it was spelt like that either), sand and cement when there are half a dozen blokes staring at you from the other side of the road, intrigued by a) women and b) foreigners looking at what is something that only men concern themselves with. It couldn't have generated more interest or made us feel more awkward if we'd sauntered over in bikinis. Ugh. As soon as we are there, a man appears to ask what we want. Then begins the ever so familiar nonsense of saying what we want and being offered something entirely different. We want the largest blocks. 'Hey! Hey! Look, there are smaller ones here.' We know and like we have just stated, we want the bigger ones. Between one side of the road and the other, the price per block changes from 4.5 dhirams (30p) to 6 dhirams. Well why wouldn't it? We got them for 4.5. Yes, yes, one bag of sand, just get out of my face. There's now two or three other guys around us suggesting prices. We go over to the the shop area (man sat at a beaten up wooden table in a garage). We add a bag of cement to the list and find that our goods have been loaded onto the back of someone's pick up and we are being asked if we will pay 40 dh (£3) for him to drive it the two minutes to our house.
- No thank you, we have a friend collecting them later.
- But he will take them for you and you can just pay 30 or 40dh.
- But our friend will do it for free.
- But this man can do it for you.
- why would we pay when we can have it for free?
It's not as if transport is part of the deal and we are cheating the system. We now have 6 men crowded round us which is really uncomfortable.
5dh is then added to the bill. Why?
- Because the man lifted and carried all your things.
- But I never wanted him to in the first place
It gets scrubbed off the bill
Next the metal worker...but wait! En route we are followed by a young lad of about 14 shouting 'Boum! Boum!' A kind sexual jeer. We ignore him for the first couple of times. After a few streets we turn round and tell him enough is enough. A street later we pull out a mobile and mimic taking a photo of him and he scarpers! But victory is not yet ours. We walk a block and hear 'Boum Boum' yelled at us again. When he continues following us, we duck into a shop and ask a man to help us because boys are shouting rude things and following us. He kindly comes out and again the boy legs it before the man can speak to him.
And on to the metal worker..!
This is how we do a simple task and get to the end feeling like we've climbed a mountain and deserve some kind of award!
Thankfully the metalworker was lovely but that was pretty much because we had been introduced to him before by a mutual friend who had earned his respect.
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