We rode camels. We finally did it. We’ve been living in Morocco for years, but this was the first time we’ve mounted these gnarly hump-backed beasts. My brother’s family was in town and so we loaded up all the kids and did the tourist thing. Local Moroccans tell us that riding camels is just for tourists, but come on, who doesn’t want to ride a camel?
There’s something exotic about it. It reminds you of the movies where ancient caravans traveled through the desert on camels and everyone wore turbans. Of course, camel riding isn’t a reflection of authentic Morocco any more than belly dancers are, but when you travel to a foreign country with a vastly different culture it’s natural to be reminded of the stereotypes that we’ve developed from movies. And the local guides are happy to indulge our false assumptions about their culture if it gives them a job.
Some people may think this is ruining the “real” Morocco, but I compare it to Disney World in America. The Mickey Mouse theme park is American culture on steroids, but it’s unlike anywhere else in “real” America. Mickey and Minnie are life-sized rodents, which makes no sense, but Americans have adopted them as cultural icons and we enjoy the fun of it. It’s the same with camels in Morocco. Average Moroccans don’t ride camels, but this has become an icon of Arab culture, and it’s developed as a symbolic experience of this exotic country.
What do you think? Are exotic tourist destinations becoming too commercialized? Leave a comment and share your views.