Well, we left Marrakech about a week ago.Â Two night trains, a day train, a bus, a ferry,Â two taxis and 36 hours later, we -finally!- made it to Barcelona, where we meant to be over a month ago.Â But before I get to that, I just wanted to leave some parting thoughts on Morocco, now that Ive had a chance to reflect on the whole experience a little bit.
Morocco, Morocco, where do I begin?Â As Lonely Planet put it, "it will confound and confront you at every turn with an unexpected density of life."Â Or as Adil said, as we were looking out over the sprawling medina of Fes, "there are lots of good crazy people down there."Â Its the first place where I actually felt like I had left my culture behind... isnt that what traveling is all about?Â Morocco was culture shock at its finest, and it has stolen my heart (no to mention quite a few dirham, and some of my pride).
Nowhere else have I found people so welcoming, so eager to draw you into their culture and make you feel at home.Â In the case of faux guides, touts, and carpet sellers, its no doubt because they have the chance to make a buck.Â But for many, they are genuinely curious about you, and really enjoy eating with you, introducing their families, teaching you Arabic, and showing their homes.Â (Paradoxically, youll often find both the hospitable and the cynical attitudes in the very same person).
The country is also a place of layers, which you can uncover if you are vigilant and patient.Â For example, beneath the ostensibly Arab-Islamic culture of headscarves and mosques on every corner is a population which is 70% indigenous Berbers, and who have been holding on to their traditions and language since before the Romans arrived, never mind the Arabs.Â And although the country appears to be (and, I suppose, is) full of rip-off salesmen, scam artists, aggressive salesmen, panhandlers and pushy would-be assistants of all types, this is only the surface of a nation that is suffering from a 20% unemployment rate and a 40% literacy rate.Â Its maddening to be triple-charged by a shady taxi driver,Â but heartbreaking to see his kids on the street begging for change.Â How are you supposed to feel in a situation like that?Â I dont know, but one thing I do know is that Morocco plays by different rules entirely.
Theres a line building up for the hostels internet, so I better save Barcelona for the next entry.... hasta luego!Â