We began a search for a power converter almost as soon as we arrived in Morocco. We had an adapter, but not a converter. Without one we might have fried some of our electronics. So off we went on our first night in Marrakesh, to try to find a converter for our North American devices.
This was going to be a challenge because most tourists in Marrakesh are from this hemisphere so they have no need for a converter. Their devices are made for higher outlet outputs.
We asked every electronics stand we passed by in the old walled city, called the medina. Souvenirs and food, shoes and cell phone stands. Every now and then, we walked by an electronics store in the maze of alleys and streets that make up the medina. People spoke mostly Arabic, sometimes French, rarely English. Our search continued up and down the streets past nightfall. It got cold that January night.
Each electronics shopkeeper or clerk we spoke with knew what we wanted, but didn’t have a converter. Each person told us to keep going – keep asking. Don’t give up. “The next store might have it,” a man said in French. “Look for the store with the blue sign,” another man said. “Go to the shop by the big hotel down this way,” said another. One man in accented English told us: “You can find anything in Marrakesh – you just have to be patient.” Indeed.
Markets, or souks, found in the medina have everything you can imagine. Seriously. At first glance, it’s mostly stuff for tourists: purses, belts, candle holders, jewelry, scarves, pants, T-shirts, and the like. But look a bit more closely and there are sections and stands that cater to locals, and to travelers like us.
Eventually we found a small store just outside the old medina where the man behind the counter made a phone call. He spoke in Arabic for a few moments on the phone, listened to the person on the other end, said a few more words and hung up. He smiled at us. He said he had a converter at his other store. If we left a good faith deposit with him and came back the next day after 3:00 p.m., the converter would be ours for just 450 dirham. That’s about $41 USD. Deal. For anyone in Marrakesh who may be searching for something seemingly impossible — the message here is don’t give up. As the man said: you can find anything – just be patient.
The next morning, my phone was down to less than 20 percent. My laptop the same. The mid-afternoon couldn’t come soon enough. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable to think it was possible I would have no juice to get online. How did I ever live before constant internet use? Our rental in London had a lower voltage outlet, so we didn’t need a converter. We totally lucked out because we didn’t bring a converter from the U.S.
But the London rental also had no wifi, so I was unable to be online as often as I’m used to. In fact, I believe I went through a bit of withdrawal. Yet it also felt good – and oddly freeing – not to go online all the time. If I really needed a fix, I simply had to walk to the nearest cafe. It seemed the universe was prepping me back in London for the next chapter here in Morocco. The chapter where I’d have no way to power the devices that connect me to the world.
The rig up is somewhat strange – the converter is heavy, then there is the adapter, and also a surge protector. If the outlet is on the wall, something needs to be underneath the plugs to give it all support. Bottom line: it works.
The thought of being offline indefinitely was somewhat disconcerting. I rejoiced somewhat when we had the converter and my devices approached 100 percent charged. And yet, once I was back in business, I realized I hadn’t missed a single thing of great importance to my life by not being online often. Maybe I’ll stay disconnected more in the future.