I finally was able to add photos to all 9 of my Morocco updates – woo! I didn’t post a ‘Day 10’ because all that happened was breakfast, finishing packing, hanging out for way too long at the airport (and trying to figure out how to spend the rest of our Dirhams) and then taking a taxi to our Airbnb (which was stocked with snacks and 3 large beers. Hooray!) Oh, I also bought a giant bottle of Amarula, which required me to check my bag from Frankfurt to Detroit. And then I got either the flu or food poisoning halfway through our 9 hour flight back to Detroit. That was awful. But I survived, and am looking forward to heading to Disney in a few days. It never stops!
So anyways, for ease of reading, I’m compiling links to each day’s review. Enjoy!
Our entire group would have loved to stay in Essaouira for the rest of our trip (all 28 hours of it,) but unfortunately a driver would be waiting to take us back to Marrakech at 11am. Before we left, I knew I wanted to wander through Essaouira’s port and see the beach once more before starting the journey back to grey Michigan. It was totally a coincidence that we walked through the Medina once more too, as we all figured out the maximum we could spend on souvenirs while 1) having enough money left for lunch and dinner, and 2) not needing to take more money out of the ATM.
Unfortunately, 11am came rather quickly, and we were on our way back to Hotel Akabar in Marrakech. (Well, it was actually closer to 11:30 because Joe and I decided to walk back from the Medina instead of taking a taxi. Oops.)
First thing we did upon returning to Marrakech? Ordered burgers from the restaurant across the street. 5/6 of us. All of the Tagine and Cous Cous we had been eating over the last 8 days was so yummy – don’t get me wrong, but we were excited for something a bit more Westernized. After a late lunch, we spent some time relaxing in our room (orange this time instead of green,) while Jenna went to the airport to pick up the luggage she’d been surviving without for 8.5 days.
Once Jenna returned, we went down into the square for the last time, each with a few ‘musts’ to check off before dinner. One of the ‘musts’? Henna in the square! As hokey and touristy as it seemed, we figured we might as well; it couldn’t be that expensive, right?
As soon as we got to the square, we saw a group of older women basically chomping at the bit to get to work on our hands. We figured there was no harm in asking about pricing – but as soon as we approached them we were barraged with requests to take a seat and discuss, rather than giving us a straightforward price. That should have been the first and only hint we needed to walk away and find another group of henna artists. But no, I decided to fulfill their request of sitting down to discuss a design, price, and henna color. Unfortunately instead of trying to discuss the details, the woman took my hand and went to work; with runny, black henna. I didn’t set a price or choose a design, and she was using black henna instead of brown as I requested. Not only were they charging more for the black henna (“it lasts longer!”) but black henna can be really bad for your skin. Cherry on top? She told me my henna would be 350 Dirhams ($35.) I’m pretty sure I straight up laughed in her face. Darn inconsiderate Americans, am I right?
While I haggled on and off with the woman that did my henna, two of the other girls in our group were able to talk the women down to 100 Dirhams for a specific design and brown henna. They paid ahead of time – smart. As they were finishing up, I got 50 Dirhams out of my bag and told the henna woman that she was either taking 50 or I was walking away. I didn’t say she could start, I didn’t get to choose a design, and I sure as heck didn’t want black henna – so I thought it was more than a fair price. They…didn’t agree. Names were called, there was some shouting, but just as I was about to walk away, they reluctantly accepted my 50 Dirhams. (And we avoided that side of the square for the rest of the night.)
After stopping at a cafe for some mint tea and doing a bit of last-minute shopping (made much more perilous thanks to the ultra-staining capabilities of the wet henna on my hand/arm,) we had our last group dinner where they served PEPSI! My first and only Pepsi of the trip, and my goodness it tasted delish. We did decide to go with Moroccan food for our last meal – Moroccan soup, with lamb cous cous to share. 10/10 would recommend. And would it really be a Moroccan meal if we didn’t end with mint tea? (Hint: the answer is no.)
Eventually it was time to say goodbye to our guide, get some dessert, and retire to our respective rooms to finish packing up. Goodbyes are weird, but I’m pretty sure Ibrahim used up the ‘goodbye weirdness’ quota for the rest of us – plus I think social media makes things a little less “it was nice hanging out with you for 10 days straight, peace out!”
-okay I’ve been starting at this for way too long trying to figure out a way to end it, but I’m just going to type this instead!-
Short update today, because it’s after midnight (HAPPY NEW YEAR!) and we have an early start tomorrow.
Perhaps most amusingly, our guide gave us all Moroccan nicknames. Everyone got pretty ones meaning things like queen and born on an important day, and then he gets to me. “La-bee-ah.” Labiabwith a slightly different pronunciation. Yup. He says it means something along the lines of “woman who visits small villages and makes carpets” and I’m not about to Google anything even close to Moroccan labia so…I’m going by either Claire or Bia. Hopefully it’s at least spelled differently.
This morning we took a tour of some historically important locations in Marrkesh: the Koutoubia Mosque, Saadian Tombs, and Bahia Palace, ending in Djemaa El-fna, where a man in the square promptly attempted conning Joe into almost holding a monkey in a diaper. For money, of course. There were also snake charmers. Definitely an interesting place, but you have to look like you’re on a mission and know what you’re doing or else you’ll be hassled (I use that term loosely) by people trying to make a buck off the tourists (well, a dirham I suppose.)
Oh! And would it really be a guided tour in a foreign country without a stop in a shop or two where the guide clearly gets commission for any purchases made?! We were lucky enough to be stuck listening to a schpeal about argan oil – all products made by women who essentially were negatively effected by divorce (there’s a word I can’t think of that they used. You get the idea.) Then we were basically closed into a souvenir shop where we all felt super awkward and made it clear we had no plans of purchasing anything. Ah, travel.
After wandering the souks for a new wardrobe for the Australian in our group (her luggage got lost,) we had a prix-fixe New Year’s Eve dinner with SO much delicious food. It was too cold to actually be on the rooftop, but took a quick look out there afterwards – lots of people in the square, presumably getting ready to celebrate?
We made our way back to our hotel and went across the street, hoping that the posh, European looking café would have a bottle of wine we could share before heading to bed. Despite what the online menu said, we had no such luck and drank virgin mojitos and coladas before heading back to our hotel’s bar to split a 110 Dirham ($11) bottle of wine!
Tonight’s Moroccan television pre-bed movies? The end of Anastasia and Zombieland. Works for me!
Wifi will be spotty (or perhaps non-existent) for the next 4 or so days, but I’ll post another update when I can 🙂
Happy New Year!
xx Claire (Bia)
(Also it is now 1am. Oops. Luckily I have 7 hours to sleep in the car tomorrow.)
Welp, we did it! We are officially going to Morocco over New Years, and I couldn’t be more excited. Is it too early to start a countdown? 308 days to go, in case you were wondering. I’m sure trip prep will infiltrate my blog every so often leading up to our departure, but I’m most looking forward to writing about the trip upon our return! (Well, no. I’m most excited about going to Morocco, but I’m also looking forward to having a trip to write about!)
It’s practically a blizzard outside, and although I have a bit of freelance work to do tonight, all I really want to do is figure out every single possible detail I can (and watch Pretty Little Liars. It sucked me in.) I swear, if I wasn’t a graphic designer, I would absolutely be a travel agent/trip planner. Getting all the details figured out is like a high…who needs drugs when you’ve got TripAdvisor?! Topdeck has the majority of the trip taken care of, but it’s never too early to start thinking about 1) what I’m packing in, 2) how I’ll manage the daytime (warm) vs. nighttime (cold) desert situation, or 3) what we’ll be doing on our 15 hour layover in Frankfurt!
Anyway – after finalizing travel plans (learning about a trip from my dad when I was younger, or now finalizing details on my own,) I always find myself looking up quotes about travel. I’m not sure why I do it; maybe just to confirm that my passion for traveling the world is requited, that I’m following in the “wanderlusty” footsteps of so many others? I don’t know, but I have noticed that there are a handful of quotes that always resonate with me, that I ‘pick out’ time and time again…so I figured I might as well share them with the rest of the world, one week at a time!
Cue: Wanderlust Wednesdays!
Similar to the Moroccan proverb at the top of this post, I plan on posting a quote over some of my photography (the photo of Morocco is not mine) and maybe include a little blurb of travel related…something. Whether it’s about our upcoming trip, a past trip, or maybe even a funny story from my 7th Grade Geography teacher, Rufus. I’ll try to keep it interesting 😉
Travel is a huge part of my life, so I figure it’s about time I bring a bit more of that into my blog!