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Country #6: Morocco

April 8, 2011

Main square in Marrakech at night

Morocco was a bit of a culture shock coming from South America, especially after spending 24 hours in Spain.  When we got off the boat in Tangiers we were surrounded by men (no women) and signs in Arabic.  We quickly adjusted to that and learned our first bit of Arabic: “la shukrun” which means “no, thank you” which we used quite a bit – actually we used it all the time. 

Tangiers was fine but we really didn’t see that much of it and spent most of our time at the train station.  From there, we journeyed to Fez which was great and the best place we visited in the country.  It really did not have that many tourists and was a completely different feel from other cities.  Us being shown around by a local really added to our experience and brought us closer to the city.  Marrakech was good and we really enjoyed getting to see all the sights, but it also has a fair share of westerners and was more urban.  It had much more of a fake feeling to it (except when in the main square at night).

In front of the kings palace in Fez

Food: I really liked the food in Morocco – Steven liked it too but not as much as I did.  We obviously tried a lot of different things during our cooking class that were all good and gave us a much larger perspective.  I think our favorite was a home cooked meal with beef tagine that our friend in Fez made for us.  Plus, it was interesting to see them eat and interact with their children at home.  A couple of times, we also had snails from a food stall in Marrakech that were really good!  As well as eating in another food stall similar to the ones you will see on any travel show about the city.  Tea is a must (much like any Muslim country) when visiting or having conversation and we consumed a lot of it, all of which was good.

Lodging:  Our lodging in Morocco was great!  I was worried we were going to have squat toilets and that they wouldn’t be very nice but I was very wrong.  We were planning to go to a certain area when we got into Fez but met a man who suggested a different spot and we decided to go with his suggestion.  The place ended up being great – we had a nice room with a large balcony and our own bathroom with hot water!  All for $25 a night.  Plus, we were not in an area that was filled tourists, which was nice.

Looking at the Fez medina

In Marrakech, I really wanted to stay in a riad, which is a traditional Moroccan home that has a courtyard in the center, but most were way out of our budget.  We found one that was in the budget section of Lonely Planet and decided we would head there to see if they had any rooms available.  Upon arrival we found out they were full but suggested a place across the way from them.  This riad turned out to be great and is where we ended up staying.  The owners and staff were very friendly, our room was very nice, and we talked them down to about half of the normal rate.  Plus it came with a great breakfast and free wifi!  

Jen’s favorite: The cooking class!  I will spare you the details since you can read more about it here.

Steven’s favorite:  Exploring the medinas, especially in Fez, was pretty crazy and fun.  Yes, we would get hassled to buy things but it was such an experience to see the different culture and how they go about their daily lives.  Plus, I was really proud of us when we did not get lost.  Everything we read said we would and we figured it was inevitable.  For whatever reason though, I guess we have a good sense of direction and made it exactly where we wanted to go every time.  You can read more about it in the Fez post.

Crossing the Straight of Gibraltar

Drinking snail juice

Snail stalls in the main square

Locals making a purchase

Moroccan buy by food stalls

Snails! Yum!!

Marrakech at night

Morocco really was a big culture shock for us coming from South America and there will be many more places that are even more shocking.  The change in language was a pretty big barrier but luckily we picked up some phrases quickly, and I would still suggest anyone with an adventurous spirit to visit.  Unfortunately, we did not have time to make it to the Sahara and see such things as goats that climb trees (no lie).  Of course this means we are going to have to go back one day!

Jen

On the street in Fez

Painting pottery in Fez

Shoes being sold in Fez

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One Comment leave one →
  1. John Roeder permalink
    April 14, 2011 16:23

    Love the blog – our entire admissions team has now checked it out as Courtney saw the link in your out of office.

    Safe Travels – look forward to seeing you all in Nashville soon.

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