Exclusive Interview with Conor Woodman in Marrakech
Scam City host Conor Woodman talks about what it was like to deal with carpet scammers and snake charmers in Marrakech, Morocco.
Watch full online episodes of SCAM CITY HERE!
NEW episodes on T+E every Sunday night at 10PM ET/PT!
In this week’s episode of Scam City, host Conor Woodman gets scammed by carpet salesmen and chased by dancers through the streets of Marrakech, Morocco. In this exclusive Travel+Escape interview, he shares some of his favourite behind-the-scene moments.
How would you compare your experience in Marrakech with the one in Rome?
Chalk and cheese.
What is Marrakech like to visit?
Marrakech is a maze. You can find your way into the middle very easily, but finding your way out again is a lot harder.
Do you think that even an experienced traveller would get scammed in Marrakech?
I think that getting scammed in Marrakech is almost part of the experience. If you DON’T get scammed there you should ask for your money back!
What would be the first advice you would give to a friend who was considering a trip to Marrakech?
Keep smiling. The culture in Marrakech is all about tall tales and colourful stories, but don’t ever take that personally. Roll with it and enjoy it—it’s part of the show and, as long as you remember to make it fun, you’ll learn a lot about the people and the place.
From your point of view, what is the reason behind the carpet scam?
The carpet scam relies on tourists not really knowing much about Moroccan carpets. For Moroccans, the carpet is like a work of art and needs to be studied to be fully appreciated. Tourists come along and decide they want to buy a certain carpet because it matches their couch or their curtains. It’s no wonder some less scrupulous sellers take advantage.
If you could use only one word to summarize your experience in Marrakech, what would it be?
What did you dislike the most during the filming?
I really dislike having snakes all over me and the fact that I had to run away from the dancer in the square. But in retrospect, it was also funny!
Did you at any time feel insecure?
Of course! On this series? Are you kidding?!! When I went back to confront the carpet salesmen, I didn’t know how they were going to react. Our local fixers wanted nothing to do with it. But actually, the carpet scammers weren’t aggressive at all. They just swapped the carpet for another equally worthless one—leopards can’t change their spots!
The Jamaa el Fna square is pretty intense; would you say you enjoyed going there every day?
If I never hear another kazoo again in my life, I’ll die happy.
“I think that getting scammed in Marrakech is almost part of the experience. If you DON’T get scammed there you should ask for your money back!”
In retrospect, what other story should we have further investigated in Marrakech?
I’d like to have had time to look into some of the street magic that you see there. But maybe we’ll get a chance to cover that in one of the other shows. Delhi perhaps?
Would you say that this experience changed your idea of the city?
No. I know the city pretty well. I’ve been there several times. But I love it. And I’ll keep going back.
How would you rank the scammers of Marrakech on a scale of 1 to 10? With 10 being very good at what they do.
Oh, 10. Because they do it with a smile!
The reputation of Marrakech is that you will get scammed from arrival to departure. Do you agree?
Yes. It’s funny because it’s true.
“The culture in Marrakech is all about tall tales and colourful stories, but don’t ever take that personally. Roll with it and enjoy it—it’s part of the show.”
What are the scams that you love and hate the most?
I love the guys who do the three-card monte. I love the way they work together but pretend to have never seen each other before in their lives. So cheeky, but it works every time. I’m not a big fan of scams that lack sophistication, so the lower-end scams in the souk leave me cold.
Compared to your past experience in Marrakech, did filming this episode change your perception of the city?
Yes. This show can’t help but change your perspective. When else do you ever travel somewhere purely to look for trouble?!