Excerpt from my travel journal: May 20

A mosh pit is nothing compared to the markets of Marrakech. A violent sea of strangers, all desperate for a souvenir. It's a little frightening. Then there’s the issue of bargaining. And being American. And a woman. 

Amidst the chaos, we had our first adventure, and by adventure I mean being ambushed by men holding snakes. 

The markets are riddled with snake charmers, straight out of the streets of Agrabah. (Agrabah, if you were wondering, is the setting of the Disney classic Aladdin.) What would any normal person do when face-to-face with a snake charmer? Pose for a photo. But photos, we would learn, don’t come cheap. 

Because Kalene grew up loving the Aladdin video game, she insisted on a picture with the snake charmer. I wanted nothing to do with the situation, so I stepped to the side as Meghan agreed to snap Kalene’s souvenir. But as soon as she held her camera to her eye, a man came at me from my left. He put his arm around me and asked Jonny to take our photo. 

He seemed nice except for a rather long snake he wore around his neck, which quickly found its way around mine.

I don’t mind snakes. Not in a cage. Or even on the ground. But if they are going to be within suffocating distance, I would like some sort of warning. So, there I stood in the turmoil of Marrakech, screaming and attempting to push this snake-man off me, all the time horrified that I’d piss off the snake and be on the next flight back to the States in a brand new casket.

So, I struggled and despite the death grip the man had enforced upon me, I wriggled free. 

The end? If only.

I’d escaped, but I hadn’t paid for this involuntary keepsake. As I walked off, the once-jovial snake charmer got angry. Smiles turned to “Give me money! Give me money!” He chased me through the market. Frantic, I gave him the first coin I could find in my purse. 10 Dirham. An exorbitant price for a Moroccan tourist attraction. 

Finally, we got away. Then we stared at each other laughing the laughter only a near death experience can cause. Over all the panting, we heard Kalene.

 “Why is my shirt wet? I think the snake peed on me.”