It all begins with an innocent photo. You take it from what you consider to be a safe distance so that no one really notices you and your camera but you’re wrong and before you even know what’s going on you’re screwed, er, snaked!
“Here’s 5 dirhams for the photo” you say but the person want’s none of it inviting you to sit down with the cobras. Not before tying another snake around your neck and posing for a photo of course. Your refusal is pointless and you’re quickly pushed into the circle. Then it’s cobra time, all while still having a snake on your neck. At the same time another person walks up to you and wants to help you out by grabbing your camera, one that you paid too much for to let just anyone take away from your kung fu grip. The camera would most likely serve as a bargaining chip down the line but you let your girlfriend take it and the take over effort is dropped.
“Thank you, but I don’t want to get any closer” means absolutely nothing as the cobra lifts itself up and starts hissing at you while the dude in blue is intentionally pissing it off even more.
“OK, I’m done” says you while getting up but you can’t leave because the dude in blue is not done with you yet. He takes the head of the snake around you and says an Arabic prayer all while moving the snake head from your forehead to your ‘sensitive’ parts.
“To keep you smart” while touching your forehead, “for good luck in love” while touching your heart, “for good sex” while… well, you get the picture. The ritual ends with your kissing the snake, yeah, you read this right, effen’ kissing the snake!
At the end you hear a silent whisper of a number in German, one that meant ‘three hundred’. “Three hundred dirhams?” you repeat completely shocked and yes, that is how much the snake parade had just cost you, 30 euros/40 U.S. bucks! From three hundred, seeing that I was not about to pay a single dime, the price dropped to a hundred, but the people involved were getting rowdy and it was time to get the hell out. I took out a twenty dirham bill, one that was literally thrown back at me as if I had just insulted them with this payment, and insisted that this was all I would pay. I explained that all I wanted was a single photo of the cobra, that I did not ask for anything else, and that they didn’t mention the price at the beginning. I did my explanation while constantly moving back, finally moving far away to where no one gave chase.
Technically I didn’t need to pay them a dime. I asked to pay for the photo I initially took but they refused. The price was never mentioned ahead of the ordeal, and I did leave a 20 dirham bill for the photos we took which I felt was enough.
These were however the longest 4 minutes of my life and I would advise all you visitors out there to avoid this trickery at all possible cost!