Snake charmers in Marrakesh

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Jun 29th, 2013, 06:43 PM
  #1
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Snake charmers in Marrakesh

I'm headed to Marrakesh. I will take in the Djemaa El Fna, of course. Perhaps I deserve some mocking for these questions, but be kind.

I REALLY don’t like snakes. How prevalent are the snake charmers in the plaza? Do they congregate in one area? Are they scattered around the plaza? I can handle it if they’re a respectable distance away. Do I risk all of a sudden turning around and there’s some guy standing right behind me holding a snake? I remember reading years ago in some guidebook “The snake charmers are notorious extortionists.” Huh? What could they mean by that? What are they extorting? No further explanation was given.
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Jun 29th, 2013, 07:25 PM
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The area is large with one side full of restaurant and produce stands in the evening and then a big open area where the snake guys are. You can either see them from a ways away or see the crowd around them. I don't like snakes and have always managed to avoid close proximity. They have guys working the crowd for money. So if you avoid them entirely no one will "extort" money from you. At least for that reason.
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Jun 30th, 2013, 05:16 AM
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Several people have expressed concern about the snakes, so don't be embarrassed. As mentioned above they are easily avoided. I would add only that you will also be warned by the sound of the instrument that a show is in progress.
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Jun 30th, 2013, 04:45 PM
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Thank you, both. That puts my mind at ease.
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Jul 1st, 2013, 02:12 PM
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I am absolutely terrified of snakes but I had no problems in Marrakesh. When they see the tourists coming they will bring out the snakes but not right in your face or very close to you. If you take a picture they expect a tip but that is not extortion.

Just remember, if you hear an oboe just walk the other way.
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Jul 1st, 2013, 02:30 PM
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Jeff, you have total sympathy and respect from me. I am also petrified by snakes except I may have a bit more reaction than you do. This has been a lifelong fear of mine and I don't expect to ever shake it, so I have been thinking about the snakes in Marrakesh too as I am going in Sept/Oct. I don't even want to view them from a distance. I'm glad to know that there is a way you can determine an area to avoid. I think I know where my fear originated, but that doesn't help me deal with them so avoidance is the method I've chosen and you definitely have my sympathy.

My family is sympathetic but they can't help laughing when I go into my 'snake dance' as they call it. I don't know when I started it, but I stand on one foot and jump up and down and scream. I guess I must think I increase my odds of not get bitten if I hold one foot up and keep one off the ground part of the time. Otherwise, I can't begin to explain it. LOL
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Jul 2nd, 2013, 11:07 AM
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Thanks to all. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one with this concern.
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Jul 4th, 2013, 12:17 AM
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I also hate snakes and was in Marrakesh in the early 80s and there were cobra snakes in various areas. Don't ask me how I got through that week, but I did.

Just learn how to look far ahead of you to see if there are any snakes or snake charmers.

On my second day out, I hired a guide to walk me through the streets so that I could get my bearings and just as we turned up to a small street to get to some area where there were ruins, there was the snake charmer with all the snakes. Well, there was only one way in and one way out, so I asked the guide to tell the snake charmer to put the snakes away as I was not walking past the narrow entrance past cobras. So, the guy put them away. But, when we came out of the ruin area, the guy was still sitting there. So, again, he put the snakes away. When I was in Tunisia, the previous summer, I never saw a snake and there were no snake charmers there, just a lot of camels which I love.

The other days, I was alone and walking around, and one day walked down a narrow alley, out of curiosity, to do some great photography and there was a little boy sitting on the ground eating his lunch. Next to him were some containers. The alley street wasn't even wide enough for the average car to get down and there was no one but the boy and me. I was curious as to what was in the containers and he took out the cobras. Yikes! I thought he was selling jewelry. I signaled him to put them back into the box and he did. But, he wanted an entertainment fee and I wasn't one to argue with him about it. LOL! I have had the framed photo of that alley hanging on my wall since the early 1980s.

If you go to any shows, just make sure to sit in the back as there could be snakes there. I was talking to a couple of British girls while in Marrakesh and they went to some kind of show and snake charmers were there. They were also terrified of snakes. I didn't attend any shows. I was traveling alone and basically went out during the day and was too exhausted in the evening to go to tourists shows, etc.

You'll have a ball in Marrakesh. I loved the place and I was a young female, out on my own, traveling independently. I just wish I could get over my reptile phobia, but I'm now in my mid 50s and still have it and know why I have it. So, I have to use coping skills when I'm in places like Africa and quite regularly in Southeast Asia where there are a lot of the little reptilian critters. LOL!

Happy Travels!
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Jul 4th, 2013, 02:56 PM
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All right, now this last post is making me very uneasy.
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Jul 4th, 2013, 03:55 PM
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Jeff, in many visits to Marrakech, I've lost count, I can say I've never encountered snakes outside the Djemaa el Fna. Proceed!
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Jul 4th, 2013, 05:51 PM
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Jeff: The post wasn't to make you feel uneasy, it was to be honest about my situation of being there a week straight and to just suggest that you look ahead of you. Since I'm one who has a severe phobia of reptiles, it's one thing that I do when I'm in places where there might be snakes, snake charmers, or snake handlers. I do the same in places where there are a lot of large lizards. Many friends have also been in Marrakesh over the decades and have had some different and some same experiences. But, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time in Morocco. It's a wonderful place.

I remember my first time in Bangkok back in the 1990s, where I also travel solo, and decided one day to buy a one-day excursion to the Floating Market, located in a different area of Thailand. I asked the woman at the tour counter if there would be snakes and was told that there would be none. Well, that was wrong information as in order to exit the market area, back to the bus, there was a line of men holding pythons and one had to walk past them in a narrow area. It was mind over matter and I walked by. However, a girl whom I had met on the bus trip, had even a stronger phobia than I have and didn't want to pass them. I told her to just look straight ahead and not to her right or left and walk past them. I walked with her and she was fine and we got back on the bus, headed back to Bangkok.

I wish the woman at the tour counter had just been honest as being one with such a phobia, I like to know up front if I might come across reptiles. If she had been honest, I would have still gone on the excursion, I just would have been more mentally prepared. Who knows, you may never see a snake the whole trip which will be great.

I hope you do a trip report. Have a great trip.

Happy Travels!
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Jul 4th, 2013, 06:29 PM
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Jeff, you had three people telling you you'd have no problem, and one Lounge Lizard who found her way to the real forums making it all about her very subjective experience. Trust us, you'll have no difficulties paying even modest attention.
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Jul 4th, 2013, 07:21 PM
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Interesting how often there seems to be an inverse relationship between the number of words and the usefulness of them.
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Jul 4th, 2013, 07:55 PM
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Okay. Thank you. I appreciate the assurances.

The trip being described was 30 years ago.
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Jul 4th, 2013, 07:59 PM
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Oops. I hit SUBMIT before I was finished.

Things could have changed in the past 30 years.
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Jul 5th, 2013, 09:57 PM
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"Fra_Diavolo on Jul 4, 13 at 7:29pm
Jeff, you had three people telling you you'd have no problem, and one Lounge Lizard who found her way to the real forums making it all about her very subjective experience. Trust us, you'll have no difficulties paying even modest attention.

First of all, I'm not a Lounge Lizard. And I don't know what the comment is about as to making my way to the "real" forums. I've been a Fodorite for many years and have been a regular on both the Asia and Europe forums, along with others including contributing to the Africa forum along with others. So, where that comment was coming from, I have no idea.

Now, as for my experience, yes, it was years ago. But, as I stated friends have been there over the decades, like more recently, and have had various experiences. I had lunch with one of them today and mentioned the topic of discussion to her.

If a thread is going to be started asking about such things, then I find different experiences will be posted. I posted mine as others posted theirs and I have wished the poster a great trip.

Happy Travels!
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Jul 6th, 2013, 04:45 PM
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Okay, so I've got several nights in Marrakech, too and now my question of absolute paranoia... First, then, I'm to understand that all of the snakes there are in some sort of container or in someone's hands...is that correct? In other words, they aren't running around loose?

My second concern is that we are in a tent in the dessert two nights (not by choice, I tried to get a hotel and there were none close). So, I think you can see where I'm going with this. I've worried ever since I knew we were camping that there would be snakes sneaking around. LOL Then, there's the concern about the community toilets or whatever and traveling there after dark. Okay, so maybe I'm freaking out here too. Has anyone spent a night in the tent and is that a big concern?
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Jul 6th, 2013, 04:59 PM
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If all our reassurances still aren't enough and you'll be worried instead of relaxing and enjoying yourself then maybe Morocco isn't the place for you, in particular the desert camping. I don't know what else to say.
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Jul 18th, 2013, 10:28 AM
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Hello Everyone,

Wow I am so very glad this topic of snakes came up. I have had this phobia since I was a little girl too.

I was in Africa 2 years ago September and did not encounter one of them, thank God.

I too am going to Morrocco in late November, and will do whatever I can to avoid them. If I encounter them, I will probably scream at the top of my lungs, and scare them.

Thanks for all of the advice.
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Sep 4th, 2013, 10:03 AM
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One of friend has a big fear of snake too. she survived easily in djemma fna square. Expact one night.
We were walking in this really crowded square when suddenly a guy just came in front of us with a snake in his hand. It was just in front of her face. she started to shout and runned away. she panicked. I think that you guys, who are terrorized by snake, would understand. she was actually shacking and we had to calm her down.
While we were there that guy came back. when she saw him she started to shout somethings really bad in italian at him. (we italians have a big temperament). Anyway he just wanted to show us it was not a real snake. just a fake one.

so i don't think there's nothing to be scared about. there are snakes, but you know where they are and you can easily avoid them.

I would be more scared to take pics at them. One pic cost to my friend 150 dhm, around 13 euro. be carefull!
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