Morocco was an amazing experience for Maral and myself. I am not going to lie, at the start we were not the happiest people. It was a huge cultural shock; the people were rather pushy and cold towards tourists. It could have also been because it was such an unfamiliar landscape and culture to ours. We were there during Ramadan, which is taken rather seriously by Moroccan’s. They are unable to eat or drink between around 3am until 8pm, which meant not a lot was open in the day and called for many hangary people (hungry and angry). It then just became a means of gaining perspective and an understanding of the motives behind their culture for us to comprehend and appreciate the beauty of Morocco. As we explored more through the niche areas and got to know people, we began to fall in love. We became obsessed with the countries rustic and authentic beauty.
Firstly we arrived in Casablanca late at night and caught a train to our hotel in the city center. In the morning we explored the local Habbous markets where we met a friendly Moroccan man, Rashin. He insisted he was our brother- personally I think he was just a brilliant sales man as we walked away with far more material things than we needed.
We then ventured to Marrakech, a city of dusty pink and eclectic doorways. We ate vegetarian cous cous and tajine, which is similar to a hot vegetable pot. It is amazing! We explored the Jemaa el fna square, this is a bustling market with many little alley ways full of stalls and pushy sales people. Personally, we did not love the square due to the hassling nature, but a lot of people really do enjoy the atmosphere. The kindest human being who we met, Ali, a friend of Maral’s dad organized us an incredible Sahara Desert tour- absolute highlight!
We left for the Sahara early, travelling through the windy roads boarded by numerous cactus bushes and rocky mountains- perfect! Everything was so clear due to the intensity of the sun. It was so spectacular. As I wrote in my diary,
“The lines run imperfectly instinct with the roads creases, as we journey through the woven mountains of the desert. We floated through pink dunes as we winded towards the sinking sun. Blotches of greenery scatter the pink, as the dusty browns, pinks, reds and orange tinges combine in a beautifully sunburnt harmony. Aztec printed pink walls grow out of the deserts base. Flat rooftops overlap with a layered alignment. An organic spectacle, where man made works harmoniously with natures beauty. A sight to cherish and be inspired by”.
On our tour we were so fortunate to have a great group of people from all over the world. We met the most beautiful (inside and out) family from Portugal, who spent a lot of time with. We met a lovely couple from Barcelona, Colombia, a great girl from New York, a friendly Egyptian and more! Every day we ate fresh Tajine and so much fruit and tea, it was amazing.
We stopped and toured a unique city, home to many movies including a scene from Game of Thrones. It was called Ouarzazate. It is here I discovered what a Kasbah was- the entrance building to these cities- and understood the inspiration for the 1980’s catchy hit, “Rock the Kasbah” by The Clash. Could not get it out of my head/ anyone else’s head for the rest of the trip. Sorry guys.
Day of the Sahara- we woke up and ate tea and olives- Morocco is certainly not short on olives or oranges (growing on every corner). We then drove to the most beautiful gardens with transparent water irrigation. We walked along and over the stream, we weaved leaves and whitnessed how the Moroccan women and men weave there rugs. There is so much intricacy and beauty in these rugs. Once we arrived at the Sahara after the lunch, the Portuguese family, Maral and myself ventured out on the camels to our campsite together. It was 55 degree Celsius ++ heats and I loved it! The sun was setting, it was absolutely surreal.
Once we arrived at the camp, the local desert boys played us music and sang along. They lit a fire and fed us a huge tajine feast. We ate so much tajine that, at this point Maral and I do not think we can eat tajine again for a while. We slept under the stars- MAGIC. We could see everything out there, especially after 1am, when the moon was more visible. We woke up and watched the sunrise over the dunes, again something I cant really describe. We rode the camels back to our driver and parted ways with the family who stayed in the desert for a few days longer. It was a 12 hour journey back to Marrakech and the last day of Ramadan. We saw three car accidents on the way back. It is not safe, these drivers do not eat or drink and drive for hours along these windy reflective roads, we were a little worried, but luckily made it back safe.
Being back in Marrakech at the end of Ramadan was a completely different vibe. People were friendly, there was a certain unique energy that made us experience morocco in a new light. It was fortunate we were there when Ramadan was over.
After a couple of days back in Marrakech we travelled 3 hours to a little sleepy, seventies, fisherman’s village called Essaouria. We got lost in the little alleyways of the big Medina. An array of yellow, blue and wooden doorways at every corner. Moroccans certainly know how to create photogenic towns. We fell in love with the relaxed nature of this little town, very inspired by Bob Marley. We were so excited to head to the beach, however to our disappointment it was gale force winds and terrible water, so we stuck to exploring to town.
After a few days in Essaouria, which was enough, we made our way back to Marrakech. Our friend Ali allowed us to stay in his incredible Riad. Note- when you go to Morocco you must stay in a Riad. We are forever thankful to Ali who helped us realise the beauty of Morocco and the Moroccan people. He helped us so much and it is this generousity and kindness we will remember and assist us in wanting to help others. What goes around comes around. Our last night in Marrakech was however a little eventful, we were walking back from dinner at around 11pm and a Moroccan boy insisted on walking us through the Souks to our riad. Generally these guides pretend to be your friend to be paid when you reach the destination, however we informed him we had no money and he still insisted. There was not much we could do. On the way back two people came flying through the alleyways on motorbikes and we heard an agonising scream, as a lady was run over. It was horrific! The lady was alive but it is something I could not get out of my head for weeks. Once we returned to our accommodation, the Moroccan insisted on being paid and coming to our riad, we were firm and told him to go away but he began to follow us so we sprinted away. We luckily reached our riad and ran inside as he waited at the top of the alleyway. This was an eventful evening and we were glad to be flying to Croatia the next Morning.
Morocco was a great experience, very humbling and eye opening. If you love texture, pattern and creative architecture I think it is worth your while to travel there.