My computer has been acting a little funky but I finally have time to tell you about my 5 day trip in Morocco. It was amazing! I met monkeys, camels and new friends however I will never eat Tajin again!
I went with a tour group called Citylife Madrid. They organize budget trips geared towards Erasmus students from Madrid. I went with them to Carnival. We took a bus from Madrid to Tarifa (~7 hours) then a ferry to Tangier (45 mins) then another bus (4 hours) to Casablanca then Marrakesh (3 hours). I was exhausted, motion sick and wished I just caved and bought a flight. Two girls actually left the trip after that because they were so sick of the bus ride. However I’m glad I suffered through the hours of motion sickness to experience this amazing country.
Now most of the transportation was by bus. I was in the big 40+ person bus but most of the buses were 12-15 people. There were a lot of complaints about that creating vastly different experiences between the groups. The large bus was always late because we had more people that needed to pee and do things.
We so long it was physically painful. I felt so ill. But we made it to Casablanca and saw a beautiful Mosque on the beach called Hassan II Mosque. We grabbed lunch. I just had some fries because I was starving but ill all at the same time.
Then we drove to Marrakesh. We didn’t get there until the evening. The hotel was lovely and near a large mosque and the main market. A group of us wandered around the streets and ended up eating at a lovely restaurant (though I wish we had street food instead). I had my first Tajin!
In the morning we had a lovely tour of Marrakesh. We went into palace that was restored, we passed by the large mosque and through the market during the day. Then we went to a beauty shop where they showed us all of these amazing products. I got pure Argon oil for my skin, rose oil for my under eyes and spices. (Moroccan spices aren’t spicy but they have an earthy flavor.) This was the place where people spent the most money. There were so many amazing treats for everyone for insanely low prices compared to Spain. We had lunch at a lovely restaurant in the middle of nowhere then off to another place. We also quickly stopped at a supermarket to buy booze.
This was the worst bus ride because we went over mountains and it snowed. It snowed pretty hard and the roads were narrow. I was pretty terrified and also nauseous. But we survived.
Ben Haddou is a famous ancient palace/ kingdom. If you’ve watched movies such as The Gladiator, The Scorpion King, Laurance of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile and The Mummy then you’ve seen it. It’s a UNESCO heritage site. It was once an ancient city where Muslims and Jews coexisted in harmony. It’s most notable for its well-preserved ancient architecture. We watched the sunset here where it was so windy I thought I was going to fly off the mountain! But it was such a beautiful and surreal place. Maybe I’m nostalgic for home but the architecture is reminiscent of ancient pueblos in the Southwest.
When the evening rolled around we had a beautiful dinner then drank. Some people brought drums and people were dancing, playing the drums and singing. It was so much fun!
We were all excited about Day 4 because it time for our CAMEL RIDE!!! So we took the bus early in the morning. We stopped at a gorge. We had 5 minutes to take a photo and get back on the bus. Then we went to a scarf shop. I bought two scarves thinking they were Moroccan but they weren’t. They were the same Pakistani scarves I can buy at the Rastro in Madrid.
Late in the afternoon we got to the camels. We each got our own. My camel’s name was Amal. Spend some time petting them before getting on. Just a little, “Hi, I’m about to be on your back for two hours.” For some reason everyone was afraid to pet the camels but my camel was a cuddler. We even hugged.
We rode for a beautiful hour and stopped. We watched the sunset over the dunes and sand boarded down the dune. It was so fun! I hadn’t been boarding in years. Then the next hour the sun went down and it was a little terrifying and freezing cold. WE finally got to the camp. They had a fire and a little dinner show with dancing and drumming. We had dinner and then partied again! I bruised my hand drumming. I even got compliments on my bongo skills.
I managed to wake up at 6AM for the sunrise over the dunes. IT was beautiful! It was definitely one of my favorite travel moments. Then we got back on our camel to go back. We arrived at a resort where we all joyously used a real toilet again instead of a compost or a tree. Then we got back on the bus to go to Fez.
Then they didn’t even give us proper warning, but we went to feed moneys! I was so glad I brought bananas. And our group was super lucky because I’m like the animal whisperer. I approached a monkey with a banana and two others showed up plus some dogs. Some people didn’t even see monkey because they only gave us 15 minutes.
Tips about feeding monkey though: do not toss it in their mouths, they are not sea lions please give them dignity. Hand it to them gently and crouch to their level. Avoid sudden movements and speak in a soft tone. Fruit is better than crackers but they’ll take what they can. Have someone else take your photo with the monkey because one girl tried to take a selfie and they scratched her face. If I were to do it all again I would have brought food for the monkeys and the stray dogs. But alas, we didn’t have enough notice to properly prepare myself.
We didn’t get to Fez until late in the evening. Everyone showered and met up. We tried to walk around the area to find a bar. They were overpriced or it was just older men and prostitutes. I was exhausted and went to bed early.
In the morning we had a tour of Fez’s medina. Many of us were disappointed because we were basically shuffled from one store to another. We suspect the trip was so cheap because these stores give the tour company a commission. I didn’t buy anything in Fez and I was basically just trying to take photos of what I could in the market. We saw so little that I kind of wish we didn’t go at all.
Then we went to a mall to eat and buy booze.
After that we were on our way to Chefchaouen. We arrived in the night and went into to town for a nice dinner. We even bought some hashish from a Moroccan man. Now I usually say, don’t buy drugs but in this case someone else did it and it was fine. Moroccans smoke weed more than they drink and the attitude is very relaxed. Then we had our last party. The hotel was all to us. It was big and beautiful with a great rooftop and a large lounge. We stayed up until 5AM talking and dancing.
In the morning everyone including the bus driver was running late. I was annoyed because I wanted to see Chefchaouen. I had heard all these amazing things and we only had until 3PM. I found a girl, Natalia and we just went on our own. We got a little lost, wandered into the countryside but finally made it to the medina in time to buy pastries and jewelry. The make it to the bus. This was my favorite day in the trip because I got to walk around and get lost for a bit.
Aroudn 3 PM, we drove from Chefchaouen to Tangier and I was on the big bus. About 12 kids mobbed our bus. At first it looked like they were trying to get into our luggage so everyone was freaking out. Then it looked like they were climbing under the bus. A group of people gathered to watch our bus driver pull children out from under the bus. The police showed up, handcuffed the children and one actually smacked a kid upside the head. We started driving again and the kids did it again! A cop on a motorcycle almost ran the children over! We made it to the ferry fine. The children apparently wanted to sneak on to the ferry to get to Spain for a better life.
We made the long drive back Madrid arriving home at 6 AM.
This is my first country in Africa and hopefully not the last. I was impressed by how many different kinds of landscape was in Morocco. I thought it would be just desert and beaches but there were mountains, fields, forests and more. The culture was so colorful and radiant in Morocco and they had so much love and pride in their country. I was quite sad to see so many children in the streets and chasing after the bus. It makes me feel very grateful that I don’t have to dream about moving to a new country I just have to go.
It was a great trip and I glad I did it. I think the CityLife tour could have done a few things like either have all small buses or all large buses so there isn’t a different in experience. I think we could have skipped Casablanca and Fez to give more time in Marrakesh and Chefchaouen. And I wish they had been more organized. They should have told us what we were doing in the morning so we could prepare what we needed and tell us what time to wake up on the bus instead of depending on a whatsapp group. The whatsapp group was an epic failure because the Wifi never worked anywhere. I’m glad I did the trip because I met great people and had a great time. We are even having a reunion tonight, however I would recommend using a different company if you can and try taking a flight instead of a bus.
I will do a post about travel tips for Morocco later in the week as well as a Morocco gallery.
So stay tuned!!!