this post is originally from May 26, 2011
Wow!!! My time in Morocco has come to an end. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown and how much ground we’ve covered. It was amazing to travel by car throughout the country because we were able to see so much of the country and experience the real Morocco.
Another of our stops was a few days ago where we stayed high in the Atlas Mountains. We had to have asses/donkeys carry our bags up the mountains while we hiked using those poles. Of course, just as we began our hike a storm appeared, and by the time we reached the top we were all soaked! There wasn’t much of a reprieve because instead of a hotel we were staying in a Homestay house. It was a traditional Berber home with stone walls and no heat. The views were absolutely unreal and although it was not the most comfortable of nights, this is something that I know is a once in a life time opportunity and I will never forget!
Since the last post I have also taken a cooking class. As those who know me know, I am not the best cook , so don’t get yourself too excited! We cooked a tagine – this is a dish that is cooked in these ceramic pots with funnel like lids that boil the food inside. Not rocket science but I will not be carrying a tagine pot home, so no replicating this dish once I return home!
One of our last stops was Essouera, which was a beautiful coastal town. We were finally able to find pizza (the food I have been craving most) and the shopping was fun. It is a shame because I so wanted to lay on the beach and go swimming but it just wouldn’t be cool to be in a bikini here in Morocco. That is definitely one thing that I look forward to in Spain…being able to wear whatever I want in the heat. Being fairly covered can be difficult when it is over 30 degrees!!! I guess this is what you call ‘first world problems’!
The last few days have been in the bustling city of Marrakech. It is a big city…definitely a bit more dirty and a place where i am happy to leave. Tomorrow we are off to Saville, Spain which is exciting.
this post is originally from May 21, 2011
Since the last email, we have covered a lot of ground…
On one of the days we had a ten hour drive. It started out with heavy rains, which wreaked some havoc on the roads. Some were being literally washed out! At one point we came across a bridge that was completely submerged by the river. The river was moving really fast and all the cars were stopped on either side…there was nowhere to go. After sitting at a standstill for quite some time one van decided to plow through. We held our breath because it seriously looked like the van was going to be swept away. Alas, it made it across the bridge. Seeing this, our driver inched forward…as we crept forward one of the Aussie’s were screaming from the back that we couldn’t cross because this is how people died in the Queensland floods. Clearly our driver didn’t listen to her as he just drove on through. We made it safely and I think everyone was thanking their lucky stars. Another near road accident was when we driving through a heard of sheep. This one poor sheep almost became a kebab that night!
After all that stress and commotion we found ourselves in the middle of the desert. At around 6 pm we packed ourselves up and mounted our trusty camels. My camel seemed a bit clumsy right from the very beginning. I am not sure if any of you have been on the back of camel, but it’s a long way down to the ground. Camel’s are tall. Very tall! My camel kept tripping so I knew that I had to hold on tight! The Sahara Desert is exactly what you see on your Windows screen saver – gorgeous!! There are massive sand dunes which makes it steep and difficult to cross. At one point my clumsy camel named Gunther almost made me a Sahara statistic. You see I was carrying a 1L water bottle in my cheap fabric bag and my bag was tied on to the handle of the saddle. We were walking walking along and I was just thinking how amazing it was that I was riding on the back of a camel in the Sahara Desert when my stupid bag strap broke, which dropped the water bottle, and at that point caused poor Gunther to trip over it! In an instant the next thing I knew I was being thrown over the camel’s shoulder.
I envisioned me getting stepped on by Gunther and I really didn’t feel like a Moroccan hospital stay so instead I hung on to his neck with my super strong thighs. I wrapped my arms and thighs around Gunther’s neck and was hanging there like a puppet. I guess all that gymnastics training did come in handy as I can perform camel circus tricks now! I didn’t walk away completely unscathed – I cut my hand up pretty bad. But don’t worry, I am traveling with the right friend on this trip. Heather is a physiotherapist, and she has come stock piled with all sorts of medical supplies.
We made our way to the heart of the desert where a Bedouin camp awaited us. By this time it was getting really windy and sand had basically entered every orifice. Question…have you ever tried pissing in the desert? It truly is a feat! Sleeping through the night was also quite the experience! The wind picked up and eventually this lead to rain, and then an extreme downpour. The Sahara rarely sees rain, but we obviously got to experience this rarity! The tents we were sleeping in can withstand the wind but apparently rain is not something it can fight: As I slept one drip turned into two…which then became a constant pour and soon my bedding was drenched! After moving to a relatively dry part of the tent I finally fell fast asleep.
Yesterday we drove from the Sahara Desert to the Todgha Gorge. The Todgha Gorge is a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains. Both the Todgha and neighboring Dades Rivers have carved out canyons. The last 600 metress of the gorge are the most spectacular. The canyon narrows to sheer flat rock walls that stand up to 160 metres tall on either side! The hotel that we stayed in was situated right in between the gorge! It was incredible!
Morocco is absolutely stunning. By driving I am able to see the countryside and it truly is remarkable how quickly the topography changes from lush green, to desert, to mountain ranges…unbelievable!
this post is originally from May 15, 2011
Like I said in the last post we started out the trip in the famous city of Casablanca. Situated in a beautiful spot overlooking the ocean it wasn’t difficult to get adjusted to our new environment. I totally should have brushed up on my French because Casablanca is almost completely french speaking. There isn’t a lot to do as it is mainly the economic hub of Morocco, but it was a great place to get adjusted to the time. We ventured into the town and went to the Hassan Mosque which is the 3rd largest mosque in the world. It is built over the ocean and the ceiling actually retracts! It is so large that it can house the Notre Dame. It was pretty unbelievable. But just steps away we found ourselves lost in the Old Medina which is basically a residential area for the locals. We stood out even more than we usually do and had to find our way past chickens (both live and dead ones) to get to the main road. We made our way to Ricks Cafe which is where the movie Casablanca was filmed, but as I am no old school movie buff, I haven´t watched Casablanca before.
The weather is HOT and beautiful. We walked the main strip a few times over the past few days and I guess we made quite an impression on some of the waiters. They knew exactly what we had done the day before and also knew where we are staying. HMMMMM??? A tad creepy!!
Our hotel door didn’t lock either so Heather has this alarm that she boobie trapped the door with. At 8 am on the morning there the maid came waltzing in only to have this screeching alarm go off! I think we scared the shit out of her…and I might have also peed the bed a little too(kidding)! Oh, and get this…at one point during our walks on the streets this made called out to us ‘lesbiaannnnnnnn’!!!!! Really????
Last night we met up with our G Adventures tour group and they all seem great. This morning we were off together as we headed to Rabat. This is the parliamentary capital. We saw mausoleums and interesting architecture…but somehow only got as far as a gelato shop because protests were going on.
We then drove another couple of hours to the city of Meknes. Here in the main square they have snake charmers, medicine men and many other sights that were all new to me. We made our way through a market which was full of winding streets in an old Medina … and yes we surprisingly enough did get lost! I made my first purchase. A pair of hand made leather sandals. I love shopping…my shopping addiction will be well fed in this country I am thinking!
Things seem very safe here and it looks like they caught the 3 men who set off the bomb in Marrakech. The country so far has been extremely clean and beautiful and I cant wait to see what is next.
this post is originally from May 14, 2011
This adventure takes me to two very different countries. My friend Heather and I will join a G Adventures Tour for the Morocco leg of the trip and when we go to Spain we are meeting up with my friend Kris. In Spain we will navigate the country on our own. We arrived here in Casablanca two days ago and it is simply beautiful! The city is fairly clean…especially where we are staying. Our hotel is right near the beach and you can see the beach right from our balcony! The area that we are staying looks more like Miami than Morocco, with the expensive Mercedes and BMW’s driving by. However if you venture a little further away you definitely see the poverty. Today we walked in the Old Medina where we certainly stood out among the dead chickens. I think we were the only tourists that had been around in a while, because the stares we got made me feel a tad uncomfortable! Morocco is a Muslim country and we definitely have to be aware of how we dress in public. We have to cover our shoulders and legs which makes the heat a bit hard to take when you can’t take any clothes off. We are told that we don’t have to cover our heads, but many lady do wear the hijab and burka.
I look forward to see what lies ahead on this adventure and I hope that I can bring this piece of the world to you as well…
The G Adventures Tour I took which has changed a little since but is quite similar is – The Highlights of Morocco