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Medina at Midnight

We hurried across the tarmac - our faces illuminated by the flashing reds of our Ryanair flight and the big white marquee that read “Marrakech”. The passengers - mostly Spaniards - formed a line at customs while desperately searching for pens. I had come to Morocco to see about a girl.

Of the six or so men vying to drive me to my riad that late summer night, one seemed particularly disarming. “Here is a man who will give me a fair price,” I thought. Article after article had advised me to establish a rate before getting in the taxi. And so I did. As the airport disappeared in the rearview mirror, he confirmed the price with me. This time, it was several dollars higher. Thus began the conversation that would occupy us for the rest of the journey, “You must pay me more and here’s why,” he explained in broken English. I held my ground and was then left with no ally at the medina's entrance.

A medina, if you haven’t seen one yet, is an impossible labyrinth of narrow alleys - sometimes only as wide as your outstretched arms - where you’ll find colorful spices, knock-off sunglasses, and a “very good price for you”.

It was midnight. It was Ramadan. And I had no idea how I was going to find my riad. Within moments, a smiling, jilaba-clad Moroccan approached. “My friend!” he said. I’d never met him before. “Let me help you.” I declined his help many times over but darn if those Moroccans aren’t persuasive. He followed as I widened my gate, acting as though I knew exactly where I was going and praying that I’d miraculously stumble upon the right place. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was hopelessly lost.

“Ok,” I said, “but I don’t have any money to give you.” He scoffed, “This is not for money; I want to help!”. I followed behind him, through the crowds of men, many of whom had just broken fast. He led me to a dark alley. I clutched my backpack, made fists with both my hands and reminded myself why I had subjected myself to such precariousness. I had come to Morocco to see about a girl.

To my delight, the man led me directly to my riad. "What a gentlem-" and then proceeded to shake me down. He wanted 40 bucks for having walked me one New York City block. I balked. He got louder… and closer. The riad door still hadn't been opened. He got louder still and elected a bystander as judge on the matter. I was outnumbered two to one, and then, just in the knick of time, the door opened. I handed him a ten and quickly shut the door behind me.

The following evening, she arrived on the back of a moto. She had just come down from Casablanca. She was beautiful. And funny. And independent. She loved Jesus and traveling more than me. We married the following year.

Jordan is a film maker, writer, educator and non-profit devotee with six years of experience working with the underserved. He is always looking to collaborate with people and organizations whose story he can help to shape and share with the rest of the world. In addition to spending over five years living and working in Spain, Jordan worked on big initiatives with companies like Project Red and Bridges Baltimore. He loves his wife, cured meats and travel, in that order. You can check out his work here and follow him on instagram @notsoquietlives.

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