DJ Radwan- or the art of turning a 'faux guide' into a 'friend'

Faux guides are the sometimes friendly, sometimes nasty men and young boys who volunteer to show you around. There is no getting around them, and the battle you might win with the first or the second of these makeshift companions, only weakens you for the third further down the road. You are their job, and they will take advantage of any hesitation on your part to charge.

Usually, when I step out, I arm myself with the following indispensable tools for faux guide battle: dark sunglasses and good shoes. I have found that avoiding eye contact and walking at a very fast pace can help you get by the more lackadaisical ones. But I must say that this doesn't always work, and rare are the days when I don't get at least one or two prolonged faux guide offers. I even get them from the boys who live up the street; though they usually get quite embarrassed when I remind them that I am their neighbor.

Tired of fighting the faux guide battle, I have adopted the ultimate secret weapon: pitting one enemy against the other. One of the distinctive characteristics of every faux guide is possessiveness: once you are theirs, they are not about to share you with any other of their kind. Patrolling down the streets by your side, they vociferously reject any other potential rival; and there is plenty of time to sit down, look confused, tie your shoe,or window shop. So really, the best you can do for yourself is grab the first faux guide that comes your way, and keep him for the rest of your outing.

Now of course, if you are a little patient and ready to fight a few battles, you may want to hold out until you find the right faux guide. I don't mean that some are more agreeable or have more information than others, but rather that some make better walking companions than others. Part of the faux guide challenge is conversation- they will most likely want to talk to you, recite their two liners on every mosque or medersa or you walk by (never interrupt them when they get started on one of these recitals, or they will lose their thread of thought, and start right from the beginning… over and over again until they get it right!) and mine you for endless information on your home and your impressions of Morocco. If, like myself, you enjoy walking in silence this can be a real problem. So far the only solution I have found is to pick a child as my companion: they usually don't talk much, they walk at your pace and they are charmingly protective…

But once in a while, you stumble upon faux guides like DJ Radwan- and the conversation makes it all worthwhile. Radwan is in his late 20s, early 30s perhaps. He wears a two piece jumpsuit, with the regular "cool", "USA" and other American-sounding words strewn across the back of his shirt. His bright blue eyes shine below his cap, and he carries his Walkman like a crown.

Radwan is a DJ- such is his vocation. Radwan is also famous, very famous in the Rabat/Sale region. Definitely in the Sale region. He has Djed for parties that he can't even start to describe; even the king knows who he is. But the King is not trustworthy- Radwan is still waiting for that Moroccan radio station to contact him. And the King had promised it would! But Radwan is patient; the king only was the Prince at the time he met him, and a lot has happened since. Radwan will be famous someday, just wait and see.

In the meantime, he owns a small 'snack' in Sale. A rather quaint establishment: black and white tiles, a few Hollywood, Coke and Miami neon signs, a menu in German ( I guess that was the only one with pictures of the sandwiches he sells….) . That's where I got caught : just as I walked past his 'snack', on my first visit to Sale. I was obviously walking in the wrong direction (that is away from the main tourist attractions) and was easy prey. I'm glad he found me though; we had a good visit and a good chat (though come to think of it, he did most of the talking). He even autographed my travel book- and he will be famous someday, just wait and see…