In some countries that have heavy levels of tourism they go out of their way to make it easy to get places by labeling streets, monuments and bathrooms for example to make it easy to self navigate to places on your own.
Morocco has its own interesting take on that – and signage if it exists – is weirdly located. For example in the Fez Medina – the icons that mark different areas and paths to different spots of interested are placed high above tourists line of sight. So you really only figure out that there is a map on a wall -once you stumble on one that has been so kindly defaced by a local resident.
Asking for directions can also get interesting – and the accuracy of getting to said location depends on your level of Arabic or French and if the person giving the directions actually knows where you are trying to get to.
Direction giving in Morocco is on par with Persian direction giving. The person you ask may have no idea – but hey – just head that way and once you figure out I have no idea what your talking about – and you are MORE lost – you will ask someone else who might know the way.
This also doesn’t account for the random Moroccan that prays on lost tourists in order to try to make a little bit of money – oh I will help you out says the individual but for a price. Be ware that you establish a price before the service is given and don’t pay till you are some where you know and can navigate back to your hotel or transportation.
There is also the chance that the location your looking for goes by one name in the guide book and has a different name the locals use. A good example of this is one of my fellow PCV’s live in a site known as Herr Mou Mou to the locals – but if you look for this name on a map you won’t find it – Why? The Moroccan government changed the name of the town but the locals could care less – so the name stays Herr Mou Mou even though its named something else on the map.
So who are the best people to ask for directions? Petit Taxi drivers. In any major city in Morocco taxi drivers are the ones who are more often than not – know how to get where you are going. Most taxi drivers have a specific area they stick to – so they become experts on parts of the different cities. In between cities – its the Grand Taxi drivers who are going to know Herr Mou Mou and Mata Mata.
I think its also helpful to find a landmark that’s well known close to your destination so if the name of the place your trying to get to is difficult for you to pronounce or in the case of my most recent trip to Rabat – the petit Taxi drivers act like they have no clue what your talking about until you use a New York accent to pronounce “Oscar,” as “Ah Ska ar,” and try to take you for a ride to get a bigger fare – its good to be able to say – I want to go to the post office on X street and then walk a bit of a distance more to get to the hotel or place you want to get to. Even PCV’s have Taxi drivers trying to pull one on them when its obvious we aren’t from Rabat or a larger city.
So good luck navigating Morocco and may your travels be safe.