Morocco – Trip Report!

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!

Day 1   Day 2   Day 3   Day 4   Day 5   Day 6   Day 7   Day 8   Day 9

 

 

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.

Morocco: Day 1

Running on very little sleep and not a ton of food (I chose sleep over lunch on our Frankfurt to Marrakech flight) we finally landed in Marrakech around 1:30pm! We boarded the FRA>RAK flight from the tarmac, after a bus ride through at least half a mile of airport land. We just kept going and going and going. Anyway. I think I’ve only ever boarded a plane from the tarmac once before, so that was kind of fun. We also de-planed directly onto the tarmac in Marrakech, and walked into probably the most beautiful airport I’ve ever seen! So much woodwork and patterning. 😍

Passport control and customs were a breeze (though I wish my passport stamp was darker…) but then…our Topdeck driver was nowhere to be found. Eventually Joe found him, but he was just holding what seemed like a xeroxed copy of the Topdeck logo. Now, I will fully admit that I have an overactive imagination when it comes to things going wrong, but between this trip and our honeymoon (where the same thoughts ran through my head during airport pickup,) as we walked to his (unmarked) car, I had fully convinced myself that our driver wasn’t legit and was going to sell us into the local sex trade. And of course had already started working out escape plans. Do you know how easy it would be to print off a copy of the Topdeck logo and impersonate a driver!? Like I said. Overactive imagination. And maybe a little bit of anxiety. In any case, we DID make it to our hotel! All potential crises averted. 

Oh – on our drive I noticed that almost everyone was in puffy jackets. It was almost 70 degrees out, and I was sweating in my jean jacket. I guess when it gets up to 120 degrees or more in the summer, 70 seems a little chilly. 

Anyway.  Our room was ready upon our arrival, and despite a few dark hairs in each of our beds (eh, what’re you gonna do ¯\_(ツ)_/¯A little icky, but no biggie) we promptly rested our eyes for a while! In separate twin beds. Might have missed putting a “we’re married” memo somewhere, but it’s all good. 

Fast forward: we met up with our guide for the next 10 days – Ibrahim if I’m remembering correctly – along with two of the 4 other people on our trip! Joe is the only male. Ibrahim lives in the Atlas Mountains. 

The 4 of us and Ibrahim walked to the newer section of Marrakech for dinner, where we people watched and stray kitties came up to our table begging for food. It took a lot of self control to not give the kitties lots of snuggles. I promptly informed the table that I have 3 old phones set up in our house to allow me to check in on Barb. Resident weirdo, checking in! 😜


Joe and I ended up paying the equivalent of $9 (90 Dirham) for a very filling dinner of pita, meat (beef) tagine, chicken tagine, a bottle of water, a bottle of coke (sorry, dad!) and some after dinner tea. Can’t beat that!

Now I’m laying in bed watching The Dark Knight Rises – its in English – with lots of vehicle noise, drumming, and the occasional clip-clopping of horses pulling a carriage. Doesn’t get better than that! (Well, one one bed instead of two would be nice, and I’m not quite as sleepy as I’d like to be, but you get the idea.) 

Tomorrow is  New Year’s Eve! We have an early start on Jan 1, so I’m not sure we’ll do anything too crazy, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it is celebrated in Morocco! Ibrahim said the Berbers won’t be celebrating the new year for 13 more days – not sure why that is. Maybe we’ll find out!

Goodnight! (Somehow it is already 11pm. Oops.)

Ps. Sorry for any weird formatting. Doing this from my phone 🙂

xx Claire