A few years ago we decided to go travelling, somewhere, didn't really matter where as long as it was a warm destination and ideally wouldn't cost us an arm and a leg to get there. Our decision ended up being Morocco. My mate from uni who I was travelling with, had been there before, and before getting there he gave me three main suggestions.

Once arriving in Morocco, let's first find a random hotel name where we can say we'll be staying as the security will be asking that. And that was true. That was one line we had to fill in the entrance paper. Secondly, don't say you're a journalist, let's both be students as they don't like journalists wandering around here that much. Or they might put a tale on you, just in case. So students we were. Still not sure if that recommendation actually had any merit to it, but who cares. The third thing he said is that whenever someone tries to sell you anything on the street, and they do it all the time, just pretend you don't see them and keep walking. Well, besides being rude in my opinion, I found a way better way to handle the sellers and was doing well my own way.

Our route was from home to Germany and then from there to Morocco, Marrakech. Marrakech was a nice city, or actually more like two cities in one. One part, the new town, pretty much looked like any European city in my opinion while the other part, the old town, was something you can see in James Bond movies with two-three meters wide street labyrinth with kiosks and street sellers on one or both sides. And lots, lots of people of course. And it really was a labyrinth, you could walk for kilometers and wouldn't really know which way you can get out of it again. We were even offered a service to help us out of there, I guess the kids have a great way of earning some extra this way there. As we had time, we didn't really care and found our own way out.

From Marrakech we went to Agadir, nice European-like city. And no it wasn't nice because it was European-like, but it was nice in general. Of course, on every corner there was a guy wanting to sell us something. The something being marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or anything else like that, I think only magic truffles might have been missing from his sales list. We always said no. Or actually, no, now I'm lying, remember what I mentioned my mate told me as the third thing to remember in Morocco? About the people trying to sell you stuff. Well, he did it the way he said we should be doing it. So whenever someone tried to sell him anything on the street, he kept on walking, and walking, and walking, pretending not to hear a thing. And the people trying to sell him something kept on running after him and keep offering him their goods. I did it my own way, the way that is polite. If they stopped me, I asked what they are offering, after hearing it I said thanks, no, and moved on. It takes three seconds to be polite and while they were chasing after him, they never did it with me. After all, they knew I knew what they were selling and that I wasn't interested. It's as easy as that. It's not just Morocco, little politeness and little common sense goes a long way everywhere.

From Agadir we took a bus to Laayoone, the largest city of the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Upon entering there it was sort of frightening. It was 7am and all you could see were UN soldiers. But once we got of the bus, it was actually pretty nice. Except for the slum which we of course had to check out as well. Unfortunately we didn't have time to be there for more than two days, would have been nice to check out the beach there and so on, but at least we met a guy called Ismael. In my mind, in this day and age, the American Dream is dead, well, it was dead already back then, 10 years ago. But Ismael still had the American Dream. He wanted to go to America and open his own car repair shop. But for him to go there he first needed a passport. And getting that, he said will take lots of time. Now, probably around 10 years later, I wonder if he's been able to to do that. I guess I'll never know.

As Laayoune is in a disputed area - Morocco says it's part of Morocco while the people in Western Sahara want independence - on our way back there the bus was stopped at least a couple of times by police and everyone's passports were checked. While it was annoying, it was okay. However, one Dutch guy (as we found out later) seemed sort of nervous. But the police didn't notice it fortunately. Once the bus arrived back in Agadir and we exited the bus, we asked the guy to join us for a beer. We sat down and asked, what's up? Well, as it turned out, while we said that we were students upon entrance to Morocco, he had said he's an English teacher. While we were sort of were students, well, we had just recently graduated from Journalism and PR at the uni, he actually was a journalist working for Reuters and doing a story about the resistance in Western Sahara. So his laptop was filled with photos and videos, and that's why he was nervous, trying to hide the stuff in his computer, just in case they want to see it for some reason.

Later on, when me and my mate were still sitting in a terrace of a bar, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, a familiar face passed by, a guy that had previously offered to sell me all kinds of drugs couple of times already. He again passed, asked me if I wanted to buy anything, and I said, sorry, "I'm still good with my beer and my cigarette, but thanks" to which he answered "Actually I get you, so am I."