Morocco: Day 7

Wow. How is our trip already almost over? The first few days seemed to go somewhat slowly, but now I just want time to slow down! Especially now that we’re heading to the coast. After a breakfast of bread (seriously need to go on a carb detox when we get back…) we left Hotel la Tour de Toile, and it wasn’t long before we pulled off to the side of the road to see goats in Argan trees.

A quick overview of Argan: The goats eat the outer fruit, then people collect the inner nut which is cracked open even further. The shells are used for fires, and then the inner nut is either roasted or left as is, and pressed into an oil. The unroasted oil is used in beauty products, and the roasted is for cooking. Boom.

The shepherd requested 10 Dirham for taking photos of their goats, and we continued on to our first coastal stop, Agadir.  We stopped at a lookout point with SUCH amazing views of the ocean; only slightly tainted by the men trying to get you to ride their sad looking camels or shoving a bleating baby goat into your arms. We were all thankful for yesterday’s opportunity to hold a baby goat/get our baby animal fix, because the Agadir Kid was adorable😍

We drove through little beach town after little beach town on our way to Essaouira, each full of surfers, surf shops, and small restaurants such as “West Coat fastfood.” The more beach towns we drove through, the more I began to understand why families on House Hunters International do what they do. I want a Moroccan beach apartment now!

By the time we stopped for lunch, the majority of us had quite full bladders. Unfortunately the only toilet they had was Turkish style…and we aren’t that adventurous. And I reeeally wanted to avoid getting pee on my Birks. Ibrahim said we would be stopping in 40 minutes at an Argan Oil shop (per our request,) so we felt comfortable waiting. But then…we all fell asleep and/or Ibrahim said the shop was closed (but I’m pretty sure we just accidentally passed it due to post lunch 4×4 naps.) So, almost 2 hours later, we finally stopped at an Argan oil cooperative with VERY full bladders, passing straight by the woman trying to tell us about the oil to get to the toilets (where thankfully one of the 4 stalls had a western style toilet.) It was rather amusing. We did listen to the schpeal afterwards though, and spent a small fortune buying gifts for people back home.

Everyone agreed that this small cooperative was a much more pleasant experience than the cooperative we were kind of just…dropped into on our first full day in Marrakech. They also fed us bread with Argan oil, Argan oil mixed with honey, and Argan oil mixed with some sort of peanut butter type substance. All delicious.

Not long after we left the Argan cooperative, we arrived in Essaouira, with just enough time to catch the sunset over the beach before doing a bit of shopping and finding somewhere to eat dinner. Essaouira is a bit of a Hippie town; complete with Bob Marley paraphernalia, “happy cookies” being sold on the street, and multiple people rolling joints on the beach. In contrast, the majority of women were still in headscarves, and both of our dinner locations still didn’t sell alcohol.

We were all happy to find somewhere with beer/cocktails at the end of the night before walking along the beach back to our hotel! (We still only stayed out until about 10:30…a group of grandmas!)

Morocco: Day 6

This morning started off with a 5 mile trek out of Tailouine, through olive groves, the Anti Atlas Mountains, and small villages, and across a river that had not totallyyyy dried up. As we were walking through one village, a man invited us into the building they use to produce olive oil (like I said yesterday, very friendly and welcoming) and even let us try some; freshly pressed out of the storage hole in the ground. It definitely didn’t look like the most sanitary operation, but over 24 hours later and we’re all still alive and kickin’ 😜


A few hours later we met back up with our 4x4s and started a fairly long drive to Taroudant. There were a lot of un-paved detours on our route, due to heavy rains almost 2 months ago taking out a lot of roads and bridges. I guess that’s a risk you take living in the valley? Also as I’m typing this out, I’m thinking we came across more of the road closures on day 5, but that’s okay. That’s what I get for not keeping up with blog posts I suppose.

We found a spot for lunch after arriving in Taroudant (people call it the Mini Marrakech) – most everyone ordered a “Sheeseburger” (oh, frenglish) – I had a cheese panini. As delicious and fresh as the couscous and Tagines are, it was nice to add a small bit of variety 🙂

After walking through Taroudant’s median, we settled in to people watch at a cafe. I like to count things, so I began counting the number of people that went into the restroom across the street (1 Dirham for a bit of privacy – more if you needed TP.) It only ended up being 4 for the 10 minutes I was watching, in case you were curious.

We popped into a pharmacy before heading out to our hotel for the night – cold medicine for someone in our group ended up being 26 Dirham. $2.60 for a week of DayQuil and NyQuil equivalent. Almost makes me wish I got sick on this trip! But not really. We also saw people crowded around a snake charmer, so watched that for long enough to have to pay a bit of money. So it goes.

Our hotel for the night was basically in the middle of nowhere, but really enjoyable. It’s run by a brother and a sister – he does most of the “front of house” stuff, and she makes all of the food. We were able to go into the kitchen to watch our dinner being made, in between rounds of Uno and BS 😛 One of my biggest regrets of the trip was forgetting to bring a deck of cards, but luckily Hotel la Tour de Toile had us covered! They also gave us the opportunity to have some wine delivered, and while 2 bottles of wine split between 5 people still went quite quickly, it made our late night rounds of Heads Up a bit more entertaining – especially when our guide tried to play – so I’ll just leave you with that Heads Up video.

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Day 3

 

Posting from a restaurant with super weak wifi before heading into the Sahara, so photos will be added at a later date! (Update: Photos added!)

Today we left Marrakech for a drive through the Atlas Mountains on our way to the Sahara. 7 hours of driving in a 4×4 with a few stops along the way.

Stop 1: Side of the road cafe with an awesome view and a couple of cute dogs. I am of the mindset to always use the restroom when available, only to find out that you had to pay for toilet paper. I’m cheap and didn’t have to go badly, so instead of going back to the car to get a baby wipe, I pet dogs instead. Mildly regretted this decision later, but life goes on.

Stop 2: We did some off-roading to get to Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, a Unesco World Heritage site. Also where many movies have been filmed. We crossed the Draa River and walked up to the top; me in socks and Birkenstock sandals, maybe not the best choice. (Though my footwear selection did allow for a a pun I was quite pleased with myself for coming up with; I socked the Kasbah. Lolllll.) We also picked up the 6th member of our group here!

Stop 3: After passing two film studios where things like The Mummy, Game of Thrones, and most recently Grand Tour were filmed, we stopped for lunch in Ouazazarte, complete with fresh bread, stray cats, and begging children (with mothers 10 steps away encouraging them to continue.) After lunch we stopped at one other place in town for snacks, water, and wine to bring into the desert. We got a bottle of red and a bottle of white for 120 Dirham, or $12 USD. We also may or may not have all gotten Berber jackets from the small market across the street at well. It’s colder than we all were expecting, so an extra layer is more than welcome – even if it does make us look like stupid tourists.

Stop 4: Eventually we arrived at Chez Yacob, our Kasbah hotel for the night! While our guide and the Australian in our group went back in to town (she was going on at least 4 days in the same dress and chambray button down,) we drank mint tea and watched the sun set while figuring out what pictures to post to social media (unexpected wifi is pretty exciting.)

We went downstairs for dinner, where unfortunately it wasn’t at all warmer, and then…the Berber band started playing.

Our group is fairly introverted as a whole; meals are about 40% conversation, 60% silence, so a bottle of wine split between 5 people was not nearly enough to get us up and dancing as was the apparent expectation. But sure enough, one by one we all ended up on the dance floor, along with a French couple, some guides, and a local Berber man that just REALLY likes to dance. The table of Russians (?) left just as the music was starting, lucky them😝

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As goofy as we felt, and as relieved as we were when the music ended, we had all warmed up (!!) and probably will never have that experience again. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?
xx Claire (Bia)

Ps. Our guide introduced us by our Moroccan names to another guide after dinner. The other guide said “no no no, no she’s no Labia….Iman! You are Iman!” I much prefer Iman.

Pps. The showers at Chez Yacob were a ceramic lined corner of the bathroom with a faucet at about hip-height on the wall and a shower head hanging from said faucet. After accidentally spraying down the majority of the bathroom while showering before bed, Joe ended up being my shower head holder, and I did the same for him this morning. Ah, marriage.

Yay, Monday!

I’m preeeetty much convinced that it’s hard to have a bad Monday when the sun is shining and the temperature is above 55F. As usual, our weekend was packed full of greatness. One of these days we’ll learn that sometimes taking a break from our go, go, go lifestyle is acceptable. Maybe.

  1. Saturday was the Dark Horse Smoke-Off, and even though team Meat Yo Maker didn’t win, we had an awesome day…in part due to the consumption of more growlers than we could keep track of; but hey what do you expect for a day-long event at a brewery?! 😉 Everything I was wearing has a very smokey smell now, but I kinda like it!
  2. We went putt-putting Sunday. I lost. Lining up shots takes too much effort! Or something. I don’t really know why I’m not good at it; yesterday I was blaming my hair for blowing in my face, so I’ll stick to that story! Hah.
  3. Joe and I are both trying out different Teatoxes – Fruiteatox for me, Slendertox Tea for him. We’re on day 3 and nothing drastic has happened yet…though I am missing my daily/morning Diet Pepsi somethin’ fierce. I brought my Bambi mug to work today; people might be judging me a little bit.
  4. Le Tote had a sale going on – 50% off your first month, so I figured I’d try it out. You get unlimited boxes of clothes every month (get one, wear the stuff, send it back, get another) and can wear the clothes for as long or as short as you want. The stuff they sent me for my first round of clothes was pretty cute – but unfortunately it came right as the weather was hitting 70+ degrees. The likelihood of me wearing a somewhat chunky sweater in the blazing sun, no matter how cute it is, is very slim. That said – it’s definitely something I’m going to continue for at least a little longer. It keeps me from continuing to add more and more to my closet, but provides some (rotating) new-ness to my wardrobe that I definitely can appreciate. If it’s something you’ve been considering, just go for it! Especially if you have lots of events coming up. If you use this link you get $25 towards…something. I’m not sure if it’s a purchase of clothes, or your monthly cost – if you find out, let me know!! 🙂
  5. Phew. That was long. Last but not least, Topdeck updated their app over the weekend, providing support for their Middle East/Northern Africa trips! Of course I updated and checked out the app ASAP…sadly no one else seems to have done the same. No responses in my group chat quite yet. Check out that countdown though – woohoo!

Happy Monday, y’all!

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Monday…yawn.

Has Daylight Savings Time made anyone else feel like they’ve been run into by a freight train? I woke up an hour past my alarm today – and luckily still made it into work “on time”…where I promptly dropped my phone on the concrete and spilled half of my cup of coffee (I don’t even like coffee, but needed that caffeine boost.) Yep, it’s definitely a Monday. Thaaaank goodness for concealer.

  1. It’s Pi Day! 3.14159….or 3.1416 rounded up 😉 Joe and I recently discovered a restaurant called Grand Traverse Pie Company and so far have loved everything we’ve tried on the menu (it’s kind of like an amped up Panera, that also serves pie.) Anyway – free slice of pie at GT Pie Co today with any purchase; maybe we’ll end up there for lunch! Though I’d really like a $3.14 slice from Sister Pie back in Detroit…mmm Salted Maple…
  2. My parents are out traveling the world right now (they just saw the Taj Mahal – so jealous) so Joe and I took their place at a Tiara Yachts event in Holland this weekend! We got to go on a factory tour (even though we’ve both done that before, it was still very cool to see boats in being built,) see some fancy new boats (one of which had a washer and dryer which I just think is excessive,) and eat yummy snacks – and got two Tiara Tervis cups! …which in reality will probably end up on the boat this summer, but we’ll pretend we’re fancy until then 😉
  3. After coming across this Topdeck blog post about what to pack for a trip to Morocco, I’ve started semi-shopping/mentally preparing to pack for our Morocco trip – sure we’re still 290 days out, but I’m finding good deals on maxi dresses, so I might as well get the most use of them as I can, right? (aka wearing them all summer.) I managed to pack in a weekender bag and a small backpack for our honeymoon, so I’m going to TRY to do the same for this trip; despite needing to pack for nights in the desert, a (winter) night in Frankfurt, and 4 extra days in comparison to the Nicaragua trip. At this point, I don’t think it’s gonna happen; a compartmentalized Vera duffle bag might be necessary.. (also let’s take a second to talk about the spelling of duffle bag/duffel bag. Which is it?! The world (and auto-correct) may never know.)
  4. Slowly but surely Barb is coming around to the idea of snuggling. After the Tiara event yesterday I passed out on the couch, and lo and behold, Barb came up and laid on the couch with me! It was very exciting. That is all.
  5. The Bachelor finale is tonight! WOoOoOo! I actually lost my bracket a couple of weeks ago (I think I accidentally left it at my parents’ house) – but I had Jennifer as the winner, and I thinkkkk Olivia as the runner up? With Caila in 3rd. So I was just very very wrong. That’s okay. Maybe I’ll do better for the Bachelorette? I’m not sure how I feel about Caila being the Bachelorette, but of course I’ll be watching anyways.
  6. Bonus addition for this week! After climbing and Bent 9 on Saturday, we came home to a little box waiting at our door, with no idea what it was (usually with packages one of us will be like “oh yeah! I did order something that was supposed to arrive soon!”) – so I opened it and was so pleasantly surprised! One of my best friends sent a cute little package from Greetabl – isn’t it adorable? There was also a Cabernet lollipop inside, which was super delish. I loooove surprises <3

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ps. I’m going to start another “part” to my blog; Papyrus in the wild. Why do so many people use such a bad font?! It’s a mystery. I’ll be photographing and posting pictures on a….weekly? monthly? basis – basically whenever I have a small ish selection to post. That is all.

Future Travel Plans + a New Weekly Post

Moroccan Proverb
Photo from AIESEC.

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!)

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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!

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Monday, Monday, Monday.

There were shootings Saturday and Sunday night here in Kzoo...far too many sirens for one weekend. I can’t say I’m a fan, though I can’t imagine anyone would be. Hooray for a list of happy things; it is muuuch needed. I also have no fun pictures for this post, so instead I’ll attach my new phone backgrounds (lock screen and actual background) because I found them last night and they’re great.

  1. Joe is home safe and sound! That’s definitely a biggie. Lots happened while I was home alone this weekend – I don’t even think I’ve fully wrapped my mind around everything that’s happened, but I’m glad I have someone to snuggle up with again! Also, while I’m at it – thanks again to everyone that checked in to make sure I was alright – it means a lot!!
  2. We’re going back to GP this weekend, and my sister will be there too! Hooray for everyone being together…even if my sister will be a bit out of it due to post-wisdom teeth wooziness.
  3. I bought a pack of 6 white chocolate Reese’s Easter eggs at Target yesterday, and have miraculously only eaten one. I think that calls for a celebration. Hooray for self control!
  4. As you may know, I have a collection of kids books, and over the weekend I pre-ordered 3 new BabyLit board books: All Aboard: National Parks, a wildlife primer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a faries primer, and Les Miserables, a French primerI’m sure there are better things I could be spending my ‘free money’ on, but where’s the fun in that?
  5. I’m not sure if this is a happy thing or a sad thing, but there are only 9 seats left on the flight Joe and I have been looking at for our hypothetical Morocco trip. We either have to bite the bullet and just book the trip, or….well yeah, we need to bite the bullet. I need to get my butt to Morocco one way or another. I am curious how I’ll handle two nights in the Sahara Desert though, just thinking back on my Morgan’s Rock anxiety attack experience. Ear plugs. I just need to remember to bring ear plugs. Scarab beetles can’t scare meeee (that is a lie. Maybe by December I’ll feel more confident hahahha.)

Aren’t they cute? I found them on Bando‘s website. Their stuff is all so adorable.

Anyway, it’s Monday and all is well, even if I did struggle getting into my pants this morning. Womp womp 😛

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Bucket List – Travel

So between my 7th grade geography teacher’s most recent trip report (Ethiopia) and some serious daydreaming about a potential, very hypothetical end of year Morocco trip through Topdeck my travel bug all sorts of agitated (in the very best way.) Joe and I talked travel for a lot of our drive back to Kzoo last night, and I found myself saying “but I want to do ____ because it’s on my bucket list” more than once – so I decided to actually write out what is on said bucket list! My list does include a few things from my pre-marriage life (with my family) – and I know Joe’s list has a few more European destinations/items on it BUT I think this is a good jumping-off point for figuring out future travel plans 😉

  1. Float in the Dead Sea (Jordan/Israel)
  2. Kiss the Blarney Stone (Ireland)
  3. Spend the night in a yurt (Mongolia)
  4. Take a trip alone (Netherlands)
  5. Boat down the Bosphorus (Turkey)
  6. See a Blue Footed Booby (Galapagos)
  7. Pet a Hairy Coo (Highland Cow. The furry ones.) (UK)
  8. Floating Market (Thailand)
  9. Visit Machu Picchu (Peru)
  10. Visit Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
  11. Go whale watching (New England)
  12. Swim with pigs (Bahamas)
  13. See the Easter Island heads (Easter Island)
  14. Zip line through the jungle/rain forest (Costa Rica/Nicaragua)
  15. Visit the Sahara Desert (Morocco)
  16. See the Grand Canyon (Arizona, USA)
  17. See a race in Monte Carlo (Monaco)
  18. Go on a Safari (South Africa)
  19. See the Northern Lights (Iceland)
  20. Visit St. Basil’s Cathedral (Russia)
  21. Drink beer in Germany (Germany)
  22. Visit Madagascar (Madagascar)
  23. Visit the Himalayas (Nepal)

I’m sure there are so many things I’ve done with my family that are worthy of being on this list that have been left off, but I didn’t want to make my list too long (things like fish markets, Turkish baths, giant Buddhas, cruising down the Seine, and everything in Rome, perhaps.) To give you an idea, I started with a list of 10, but there are just SO MANY things I want to see and do. PLUS of course I can’t go too too long without a Disney-fix. Remember how I said my spirit animal is a hummingbird? I don’t do ‘nothing’ well.

And people wonder why Joe and I are waiting a while to have kids…pshhhhh. (Actually off-hand I can’t think of anyone wondering that, but that’s okay.)

Is there anything major I’m forgetting? Any suggestions to add to the list and make it an even 25? Let me know! 🙂

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PS: Oy, now I’m daydreaming about the Hammam in Istanbul….