Besides all the fantastic pictures of my travels, and the great experiences, there are also some not so memorable moments, that I usually keep from my close friends and family. Like that time I got food poisoning in Morocco. Yes, this is the kind of travelling story that will never leave me.
Morocco is famous for its markets, exotic landscapes and great culture. But over the years, it has made its way to the list of most travel agencies and tourists from all over the world get to experience Morocco.
Full disclosure, I travelled to Morocco with an organized group, and they arrange everything, except for the meals.
That’s why they also developed the touristy side, such as food markets, street shows with animals. And all kinds of other services invented to please the customers.
How did I get food poisoning in Morocco?
I was in Morocco in 2015, about half a year after deciding to not include animal products in my diet. It was the year I also volunteered in Turkey for two months, and it was hard explaining how I won’t eat cheese.
But there I was in Marrakesh, at the beginning of November. I had survived the Sahara desert experience, one of them sot famous things to do in Morocco. It took 3 days to go to the Sahara, sleep there in the middle of nowhere and get back to Marakesh and it felt like I was part of that car.
Anyway, after getting back to Marrakesh, it was already late, and the central food market of the old town was full of life. If you know Marrakesh, then you have to know Jemaa el-Fnaa, the famous night food market, which is also the entrance to the souk.
The place is eye-catching, especially in the evening. It’s crowded with all kinds of performers, snake charmers, fortune tellers, henna painters, and of course, the many open-air stalls that offer freshly cooked food.
Although we were warned to eat in some restaurants near the market, that evening, some people from the group convinced me to eat something from the open-air market.
It was hard to pick a place to eat, because more places offered meat products mainly, or fish because apparently, that’s what the tourists want.
In the end, we settled for one quiet food stall, and I had some vegetable soup and some vegetables. It was nothing too eye-pleasing, nor the taste made a big impression on me, but I guess that most people like eating in crowded places.
After dinner, I got back to the hotel.
It was a little more than one hour later that I start feeling feverish. All I could think was that I must have caught a cold in the desert and I took a paracetamol.
Two hours later, I couldn’t sleep, as I felt nauseous and had chills. Then I developed a habit into visiting the toilet every hour or so.
The next morning, we were supposed to go on a day trip to Essaouira, a fishing village, to see the Atlantic ocean. I was feeling sick, but I decided to go anyway. On the way there, the sickness developed. I couldn’t move and all I wanted to do was to fall asleep.
We finally got there, and the guise told us we had the entire day to walk around. I was feeling like I was ready to die and ask if I can sleep in the bus, but the answer was no. What to do for 6 hours in a city by the Atlantic, on another continent, where people don’t speak my language and when I was feeling like I was about to die?
I found a nice cafe and drank tea for 5 hours. I could barely keep my eyes opened. It was the longest afternoon ever. I was even afraid to eat or drink anything because I didn’t know how my body was going to react. And to make you understand my situation, I have a sensitive digestive system on a regular basis, so I wasn’t taking any chances.
That afternoon, as I was struggling to keep my eyes open, to watch some kids playing by the shore of the Atlantic Ocean was one of the hardest things I’ve been through.
I was feeling an excruciating pain like my entire body was about to collapse.
But I made it. I didn’t die. I got back to the meeting point, and everyone was ao excited about the beautiful city they just visited and the great things they had for lunch. What a joy to hear.
The best moment of that horrible day was the moment we got back to the hotel and I got into bed. I felt like I could sleep for weeks. Which was the right feeling, because that pain stuck in my body for weeks, although I was functional after just a few days.
The next day was another day trip, but this one I decided to skip and spent the entire day in bed. Probably the best decision I ever took. All I needed was water, bread and sleep.
And it worked.
Was it food poisoning in Morocco?
I assume it was something from the water. I caught some sort of bacteria and destroyed my intestinal flora and took me over a month to fully recover.
The thing with that street market is that they don’t have running water. They have some huge barrels of water and they wash their plates and tableware in the same water, over and over again. Probably use the same water for cooking.
And the food sits for hours on end on the counter, before someone buys it. Between the stall, many locals drive scooters to get around and disperse smoke and other nasty substances from their engines. And the flies. There are flies everywhere that sit on everything.
I hope this is a good enough story to convince you that you shouldn’t be eating street food, in general, but especially in such conditions.
This was the only time I got sick while travelling and I travelled to so many places since then.
The conclusion is that no matter where you are, don’t do stupid things such as eating from dirty places. If you wouldn’t do it at home, then don’t do it in a foreign country!