The Worst Kind of Day Trip: My First Visit to a Hospital Abroad



By Karlie Marrazzo

On the morning of our third day in Marrakech I woke up after sleeping for almost 12 hours straight. I felt terrible. The owner of our riad knew I hadn’t been feeling well and when I asked about seeing a doctor, he gave us the address of the Clinique Internationale de Marrakech. We caught a taxi at the small post office near our riad. The clinic was only 15 minutes away, but it felt like we were in the car for three times as long.

I told the man behind the counter that I needed to see a doctor for an ear infection. He asked me for my passport, glanced at it, stuck it in his shirt pocket, and one minute later I was being escorted to an examination room. He didn’t ask me anything else or get me to sign any forms. My Canadian passport was good enough to get me in. I felt extreme guilt as I walked by the packed waiting room, full of individuals and families, waiting to see doctors or for their loved ones.


The large room was relatively clean, certainly not spotless but clean enough. There were simple diagrams of the human body on the wall with the major organs pointed out and the absurdity of them made me laugh. The nurse and the doctor, both female, entered the room a few minutes later. Even though this is called an international clinic, the doctor didn’t speak any English at all, so the nurse did double duty as a translator with her basic English.


They took turns poking around roughly in my ears, took my temperature, said something about inflammation and infection and decided to give me a cortisone shot. I’m not afraid of needles, and I saw the needle wrapped up in it’s individual sterile plastic wrap, but for some reason a wave a fear came over me as the nurse administered the shot. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t eaten for days or because it was surreal for me to be having my first experience in a hospital outside of my own country. My rational mind knew that a) I wasn’t that sick, relatively speaking and b) I was being taken care of in a reputable place, but a big fat tear still managed to escape and roll down my right cheek.


The doctor wrote me a long list of prescriptions and a letter to send to my insurance provider. I picked up my passport and paid my bill on the way out – a grand total of 449dh, or $57. By the time I had my prescriptions filled at the pharmacy next door, only an hour had passed at the most.

The exhaust-scented taxi ride back to the medina was unbearable. My head felt so heavy I felt like it would fall off. I could barely keep myself upright.  I stumbled out of the car almost before it stopped and sat on the curb, ready to vomit. The five-minute walk back to the riad took four times as long and I couldn’t keep it together. There I was, in the middle of Marrakech, on the trip of a lifetime, and I had a panic attack. Anxiety had gotten the better of me. A market had popped up in the time since we had left and there were people everywhere, yelling to each other, alongside donkeys and scooters nearly missing me. The midday sun was scorching hot. With so much activity around me, all I wanted to do was lay down in bed, any bed, and it seemed a million miles away.

For more photos from my Morocco trip, click here.


8 thoughts on “The Worst Kind of Day Trip: My First Visit to a Hospital Abroad”

  1. Dear Karlie, I hope you responded favorably to the prescribed treatment. My husband and I are going to Marrakech in July for the “Popular Art Festival”. Any thoughts on that?

    1. Hi Atena,

      I haven’t heard of that festival. What’s it all about? How long will you be in Marrakech for? I’m sure you’ll have a great time, it’s a very beautiful and dynamic city. If you have any other questions about Marrakech, I’d be happy to answer them!

  2. My wife went through food poisoning there for 3 nights at that hospital. Everyone was nice though. We feel your pain.

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