Alex needs your help

You may have heard that Alex is going to Marrakesh.  But is he ready to deal with the touts?

The fundamental problem: for most of the day you don’t want a (Moroccan) guide at all.  But having a guide, if nothing else, keeps away trouble.  If you walk around without a guide, you are pestered incessantly by all the other would-be guides.  It is like choosing which giant leech should be attached to your head, knowing that the space will not remain empty.

The guides don’t cost much up front ("I am your friend.  I love United States.  I show you for free.  Very good friend.  No charge nothing."), but at the end of the day they ask you for money.  I don’t just mean ask, I mean beg, plead, cajole, and finally, if need be, demand.  Avoiding this spectacle — humiliating to both parties — is itself worth at least twenty dollars.  In the meantime the guides bring you around to merchants of their choosing, and receive kickbacks on anything you buy.  So don’t expect the guide to do your bidding or to bring you where you want to go.

In Marrakesh you cannot do without a guide altogether.  You will get lost in the souks and never come back to your blogging life.  And you might wish to visit two or three quality stores, rather than the twenty your guide has in mind.  A guide can, in principle, bring you to the good ones.  But little do you know just how interesting he thinks the carpet factory will be [hey, you can’t see child labor like this just anywhere…].

So how should Alex structure an optimal compensation package for his guide?  How can he avoid being ferried to stores he does not wish to visit?  Can the end-of-day performance art be dampened if not avoided?  When should he pay the guide, how much, with what instructions, and contingent on what?  Must he use the same guide for more than one day?

Comments are open; whether Alex knows it or not, he needs your help.  Badly.


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