But first, business
|Hanging out with Rachid and his friend, Aga|
|Delicious tagines (and a lesson on how to cook them)|
|Dressing up in a djellaba for Friday mosque|
|Couscous (a tradition on Friday after mosque)|
|Getting lost in the Medinas|
|Exploring old Kasbahs|
|Visiting a Hammam/bathhouse (can you guess which side is men and which is women?)|
|Sharing some meals with Rachid's family (Dad, me, Brother Said and Mom)|
|And, of course, drinking lots and lots of sweet minty Moroccan tea (they call it "Berber whiskey")|
Step Two: Explore Morocco
I (Anna) arrived at the airport with no less than 60 lbs of gear - 20 or so of it was actually mine. It wasn't a total burden though, I got to walk through the Paris airport carrying a motorcycle helmet and a techy-looking duffel bag. People either looked very confused or very impressed - either way it made me feel cool. The pilot on my flight from Paris to Casa even informed me, politely, that all I would need for the flight was a seatbelt - the helmet wasn't necessary, before exploding in laughter. The only thing that kept me from exiting customs in Casablanca wearing the helmet (to help Shawn find me, of course) was the larger urge to finish my 24 hours of traveling and give that man a hug (helmets get in the way of that).
|Us and all of |
|Shawn even dressed up! (Thanks Mom, from Shawn!)|
|The Renault SYMBOL that carried us|
|A traveler's washing machine...|
|After many failed attempts at this picture (in one, Shawn is still running toward the wall), we gave up and just stood really close to the camera...|
|Taliouine is in the background.|
|A view of the hills surrounding Taliouine.|
We continued on, staying in various cheap hotels that felt like dungeons and had gross bathrooms. We ended up pushing pretty hard to reach a town called Merzouga, which is on the edge of the Sahara, where we stayed at the best place in Morocco, Hotel Kasbah Panorama. It's situated on a hill, which gives a beautiful view of the dunes. We were there during the lull before the holidays (New Year's), so we were treated really well by the family who owned it. Hands down, the best food we've had here, no one tried to get us to buy useless crap, and it was peaceful. One of the owners, Ismael, showed us around a bit and talked with us about Berber culture a lot - education, history, etc.
|This is Jovanna. She is cute. Her partner, Jovannie, followed us into the desert (brave cat!).|
|Ismael, whose family owns the hotel, took us to the souk (market) in Rissani and showed us where you can buy spices. There were so many types and they smelled so good, so I bought |
|Then we went into the desert on camels - ours were named Bob Marley (left) and Jimi Hendrix (right)! This is the first time we learned that if you don't lead a camel, it goes where it wants...|
|This is me, fighting to keep my seat atop Bob Marley's back. (Look at how red that sand is!)|
|Saharan dunes, plus Youssef, our guide, who spent some of the walk talking on his cell phone.|
|Hiking the dunes for a sunset view.|
|Small Anna on a big Saharan dune at sunset.|
|Shawn playing on the dunes at sunrise. So early. So cold.|
|The nomadic Berber camp we slept in, while fennec foxes walked silently around our tents all night, taunting me (my biggest hope was to see one of these critters - no foxes, but lots of burrows and tracks).|
|The well - only 1 meter deep and - BOOM - cold, clear, fresh water.|
The next morning, one of the guides approached Shawn and said, "Last night, the camels, they go....I do not know where", in a most dejected way. So there we were, on a camel trek into the Sahara, with no camels! I overheard the Portuguese couple asking him, in Spanish, "Escaparon? (they escaped?)" The guide replied..."Ehh......." In truth, I suppose it's hard for an animal to escape if you don't first tie them to something.
Never fear though, we're in Morocco - he maintained his dejected attitude, and offered to sell us some (fake? real?) fossils while we waited for the 4 x 4 to come rescue us. As they say, ain't no man sadder than a nomad without his camel - but $15 for a rock is still expensive.
Turns out that our camels had gone wandering in search of "greener pastures" - they had been found down by the river, where there are more plants. And so, we learned that Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix had, quite naturally, left the early-to-bed tourists in search of some grass...
|He said, "8 x 8 in, now 4 x 4 out! Haha!"|
|Hands down, the best tagine we had (at Kasbah Panorama, in Merzouga) - a mixture of chopped beef and vegetables, with eggs cracked on top. It is apparently a traditional Berber dish.|
|The quintessential Sahara/camel/sunset shot.|
|Thanks for taking a break from your travels to be a tourist on vacay with me :)|