Pros : Morocco
is the place dreams are made of
Not much english speaking!
September 28th, 2004
A new country with a bunch of new things to learn. First is the
keyboards. You can read all of the keys, but none of the important
stuff, like letters or punctuation marks, are in the correct places.
It adds a whole new understanding of the term, "hunt and peck".
Water is about the same price, 5 Dirhams, so the change in the conversion
rate is not too dramatic for my little brain. The toughest by far
is that this is the first Country that we have visited, that doesn't
use English. Everything is either Arabic or French. Microsoft Windows,
Internet Explorer, and all the menu's are in French. I'm getting
pretty good at guessing what the French street signs mean too. I'm
usually only wrong most of the time. So far it hasn't meant getting
on the wrong train or getting lost. It's interesting to hear French
being spoken so much after a month of hearing Arabic. The food in
Morocco is much better and everything is cleaner than it was in
Egypt. It's more like Turkey, thank goodness. JoAnn may survive
after all. We are really not geared for long stretches in third
We seem to be developing a rhythm regarding how we travel. We move
and explore, then move again until we find somewhere we like to
stay. JoAnn doesn't get bored and I seem to really like the exploration
part. After being on the road for a month (doesn't time fly) we
are starting to feel those changes that some friends told us we
would experience. Number one is the whole food thing. These backpacker
type hotels we stay in always provide a breakfast. Tea, lots of
bread type things and sometimes cheese, etc. Lunch, between 12 and
3, is usually at a stall type booth. Very cheap but stuff I like.
We don't seem to be real hungry for dinners, so rarely do we go
to a normal restaurant. Our hotels are never any place that we would
have considered in the States. We don't really spend much time in
them so it doesn't matter much. I will address some of other changes
in future posts.
We left Cairo early one morning, flew to Casablanca in about six
hours, took the shuttle train into the city and wandered around
until our train took off for Marrakesh. We arrived in Marrakesh
before dark and found a hotel with enough time left over for us
to wander the Souq until JoAnn could find another carpet to buy.
Big day, but it was a very amazing transformation.
We loved Turkey but Morocco is the place dreams are made of. Other
than our inability to communicate, this place rocks! Marrakesh is
exactly what I had read stories about. The mystery, the different
peoples, and the level of excitement and energy are present everywhere.
I'm sure that it has probably changed a lot over the years, but
I was mesmerized. We went into the main square of the Medina (old
city)after dark the next day when everything is jumping. The square
is probably about 20 acres of cobbled open area that all of the
alley ways of the souq depart from. Much like the spokes of a wheel
with the most crooked spokes that you could imagine. A souq is a
market area in the Middle East, made up of hundreds of small shops.
These range in size from a small piece of cloth laying on the ground
with figs for sale, to a door leading to a labyrinth of rooms filled
with antiques. The food stalls, medicine men, dentists, preachers,
magicians, story tellers, hena artists, snake charmers, musicians,
and everyone else, doing everything else, set up for the nights
entertainment in the square. That night, while we were wandering
around, there must have been 10 to 20 thousand people in the souq.
JoAnn doesn't like to be packed in so tight, but she had tons of
fun. Ron and Bette-remember New Orleans on New Years Eve? That was
small potatoes as far as numbers go, in comparison. After we left
the Souq we went across town to a very upscale Casbah type restaurant
for a "real" Moroccan dinner, in a building giving you
the impression you were in an ancient Casbah. The food was very
good and there was a belly dancer that was great entertainment.
JoAnn danced with her a little bit but couldn't seem to duplicate
the moves with her knee still not 100 percent. A few lessons, and
then, watch out!
We took a large Taxi to Essauira the next day, about a three hour
trip. These big Mercedes are almost like bus travel, without riding
at the bus schedule. Not very expensive. Sometimes I think we are
on a quest to ride every type of transportation available. Essouria
is a very, very cool place. It's a very old, small, 35,000, coastal
city that has all of Marrakesh's charm and a less intense press
of people. The thing that really gets your attention is how happy
the people seem. They like to joke with me and I think they understand
my warped sense of humor almost as much as American do. I think
that I have become accustomed to the Muslem call to prayers during
the day, and will probably miss it when it's gone. All of this little
stuff becomes so much of the experience. We had sea food today for
lunch, on the pier, and it was soooooooo good. I had shrimp, lobster,
crab, and some of JoAnn's fish. No dinner for Dondo! I told JoAnn
that today I felt as if I have finally become extremely comfortable
in these countries as we travel. It's almost like walking in San
Francisco rather than in Casablanca. One thing that we have a hard
time with is the fact that hardly anyone sells beer or wine. You
have to go to a nice indoor restaurant to have a cold one. It's
a Muslim thing. I guess that religion is out for us.
It looks like we are leaving for the Atlas mountains in the morning,
by bus. We are anxious to see the Mountains and realize that time
is short to get to Spain. We hope to fly out of Spain to London
on the seventh. It's been so nice hearing from everyone and we enjoy
your emails. The only thing getting tiresome is the constant clothes
washing. JoAnn bought some Moroccon clothes today to break up the
monotony of wearing the same stuff. As for me, wearing the same
old thing works just fine.