Sounds From The Streets

Anyone who knows me can attest that I am a city girl. I love the excitement and energy of a big city because it feels like the place is bustling and alive. There’s something about the buzz of so many people doing so many different things that I’m really drawn to. After living in LA and constantly hearing the sounds of helicopters, sirens, music, lawnmowers, traffic, and so on, it’s taken me a while to get used to such a calm atmosphere in Morocco. Agadir is right in the middle of laid back and busy and maybe that’s why I like it. It’s not the “boonies” but it’s not Casablanca, either. There’s just enough going on here to balance out the tranquility of the natural landscape. However, there are a few sounds that I hear on a regular basis and I want to bring you into my world for a few minutes.

There’s a whole crew of people that work within the streets of the neighborhoods. They buy, sell, and bargain their way through alleys and rows of houses and apartments. Each person is different, but over time I’ve come to recognize them by their voices alone. You see, they don’t bother with renting storefronts or setting up shop in the souk. Oh no, my friend, oh no. Instead, they walk, ride, push, or pedal their way around shouting at the top of their lungs whatever goods they have available. Sometimes it’s fish, sometimes it’s bleach, and sometimes they’re just asking for money.

Over the past few weeks I’ve taken recordings of the cast of characters so you can listen and see what I experience on a daily basis. Ready? Here we go…

  1. The Beer guy.

    No, not that kind of beer. It’s more like “bier.” That would be the Darija word for “sell.” This guy is one of the most aggressive of the bunch. He pushes a cart around full of random junk in hopes that people will want whatever he has that particular day. It’s kind of like the world’s oldest form of eBay.  He calls out, “Beeeeeeeeer, beerp beerp beerp!” and that’s how everyone knows he’s coming. If you have something that’s broken or you just don’t want it, you bring it down to the street for him to buy. He’ll fix it if it’s broken and sell it later in the week, or just buy it from you and sell it later down the road. You can hear the guy from a mile away and if you flag him down from your window, he’ll stop. Then you’re able to peruse his cart full of goods and wares, and buy or sell as you please. He comes around a few times every day and he’s impossible to ignore.

  1. The Fish guy.

    There are a few fish dudes in my hood and they’re all unique. I can tell who it is by how they shout out in Darija, “HUUUUUUUUUD!! HUUUUUUUUUUD!!” 
    Basically, they go down to the beach or marina and pick up the catch of the day in the morning. Typically you can find sardines, sol, and a few other kinds of flat fish. They put in on the back of their motorbike or bicycle and it’s usually rotting in the hot sun. Sounds delicious, right? Well these gentleman don’t seem to bother with health inspections, so eat at your own risk. The perk for some people is that the fish come literally to your door. I guess an ecoli or salmonella infection is a small price to pay for convenience.

  1. The Gnaoua guys.

    A very traditional cultural music here is gnaoua (pronounced guh-NOW-uh) and you can hear it everywhere from restaurants to the souk to your front door, and there’s even a huuuuuuge music festival dedicated to it every year in Essaouira. Most times, the guys will get dressed up in classical regalia and parade around the streets rang-bang-boomin’ around in exchange for money from the unwilling listeners. Despite not being invited by anyone, they walk up and down the streets and expect you to open your windows and drop money down to them. If you don’t, they’ll keep playing. And playing. And playing. At some point, you’ll be annoyed enough that you’ll actually be paying them to stop and go away. Works every time.

  1. The Bleach Boys.

    They’re not takin’ you to Aruba or Jamaica, but they are trying to keep your house smelling lemony fresh. You can see a whole cart full of bleach, aka, “Juh-VEEEEEEEEEEL” and you can pick whatever scent you want. This guy also has a big selection of powdered dish soap, perfumed Lysol-ish stuff that doesn’t disinfect (just smells good), and he sells it all in recycled water bottles. I wonder if they have a scent called Kokomo Coconut…

  1. The Rolling DJ

    These disc jockeys can be seen in various locations around the city, but they’re definitely not wearing giant mouse heads or fist-pumping. Nope, they’re selling cds of the Quran. Someone had an idea to rig a car cd-player up to a generator on a rolling cart, and it caught on like wildfire. The young guys just stroll along with the Quran recitation blasting from a big subwoofer. In this video, you can see a “HUUUUUUUD!” guy makin’ a sale in the alley and then BONUS #1 you get to hear and see the kid with the Quran cart. BONUS #2 is that you also get to see 2 dudes pushin’ a pallet fulla bananas down the middle of the road. Totes typical.

  1. The Pied Piper of Agadir

    I have to admit, the guys with the flutes might be my faves. They roam around like the Gnaoua guys except it’s usually a one-man show with a flute. The first time I heard it, I expected to see children running at his feet and all the rats of the city running along with them…

7.  The Douche Guy

I'm not actually sure that this guy is a douche, but he mentions it several times in his unknown speech. I honestly have watched this video over and over again and all I can make out is, "Shower, kitchen, doesn't work"---and not in that order. There's something about a pressure cooker in there too, but I can't be 100% sure. This guy took things to a whole-nutha-level with his mini microphone (which I heard someone call a "meekro" and cracked up). I don't know what he's selling, buying, or workin' with but I don't care even slightly. All I know is that he's doin' his thing tryin' to make a quick dirham on the street like everyone else in the crew.

And that my friends, is a look into the alley of wonders.


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Jenle said...

Excellent writings as always! :) Thanks so much for sharing!! ~J.

Jasmine said...

You are absolutely hilarious. You're such a great storyteller. You make me want to write more and more. I'm from Essaouira, but have been living in the states most of my life. The traveling gnawa portion was hilarious cause my fiancé whose from Rabat is gnawa to the CORE. nothing is played but gnawa and chaabi. I try to run away from the sound, but I can't. Maybe I should throw some dirhams at my fiancé so he can let me play my salsa music....

Jasmine said...

According to my fiancé, he says they are asking anyone for any old faucets or a pressure cooker. They buy it off the people for cheap, and they take the pieces annd sell the pieces to the repair shops .

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