I've just spent two weeks in Morocco and haven't written a thing about it, so here we go, I haven't had any specific experiences that require a story of their own, and so here are some blog capsules of what I've been doing recently.
Morocco is a bit confused. It's on the African continent, the majority is Muslim, everyone speaks French but all the papers and magazines are in Arabian. I may have to write a letter, especially to the guy that didn't tell me about the French part- another language for me to mangle.
However, all of the above makes Morocco a unique place. I mentioned last year how much countries would bleed into each other, Laos and Iceland being two exceptions. However with Morocco being at the crossroads of so many cultures, they've all mixed together to make something unique all together. Morocco felt exactly like I expected it too and quite different at the same time (and I admit that statement sounds fairly ******ery).
I visited Casablanca, Marrakech, Fes and Tangier. The first and last only because they were my entry and exit points. All the cities seem to have a similar structure, with a Medina - the walled old city with lots of twisty alleyways, probably what you picture when you think of Arabia. Usually there the new city - Ville Nouveau, which has a strong French influence, with tree lined boulevards and lots of cafes, a lot less hassle too. My favourite by far was Marrakech, although its pretty touristy, the main square is awesome during the evening with heaps of food stalls with the chef/waiters all imploring you (in a light hearted way) and all around the square there are snake charmers, fortune tellers, acrobats all vying for your Dirham. Very cool.
I stayed in a hostel that no one seems to know about in Marrakech. I had the place to myself 3 times out of 5 nights. It has massive, airy rooms, an en suite that was scrubbed clean daily - fresh towels too and included breakfast to die for - mint tea, coffee, orange juice, bread, jam, cheese and pancakes. Probably one of the best hostels I've ever stayed in.
I went out to the edge of the Sahara desert as part of a 3 day tour and rode on a camel out into the dunes for a night in a tent. Sunrise and sunset were incredible, the tent, not so much - too much sand and too windy. I have to admit I pre judged camels by all the negative press I've heard about them. They don't smell that bad, don't constantly fart and burp and I never saw one spit. They do make that sound like how Wookies talk a fair bit though.
Had one of the worst hassle experiences in Fes. We arrived in late afternoon after an 8 hour share taxi rise from the dunes. Now in Morocco a share taxi is quite a fitting name, but cause you share the taxi with others. Not only that, you share personal space, body odour, any air-borne diseases you may be carrying. You see, cause a share taxi magically has 4 seats in the back and 2 in the front (not including the driver), they're quite ingenious these Moroccans (see also South-East Asians). So after 8 hours of this, we roll out of the car into Fes and are instantly surrounded by touts from any numbers of hotels all wanting us to stay with them. As none of us were in the mood, we did as Lonely Planet (the bible) says and sat in a cafe for ½ an hour or so. Most of the guys get the hint and drift away, content to find some other tourists to harass, except for one guy. He just wanted to help for friendship, for thank you at the end, to practice his English. Until we went to a place where he could get no commission... and the worm turned. He pushed his vitriol on the smallest, femalest member of our group who was last inside the hotel, most of his comments I mentioned in the last post, racists against Moroccans, Japanese wearing a mask (who's racist now) and cold-hearted. The p****then had the gall to come up to us later and apologise and ask us to stay at his hotel the next night. I got minorly agro at that and I'm glad to say he left us alone. p****
The food can be quite good, but it can be pretty average as well. Tagines are one of the most popular dishes. A meat of some sort is roasted with vegetables and a spice mix in a clay pot over coals. When it's good you get succulent meat falling off the bone surrounded with a cavalcade of moist veggies in a perfectly spiced sauce. When it's bad you get an unidentifiable hunk of meat, welded to the pot surrounded by a few sad carrots and potatoes. Price has no bearing on what you get. Unsurprisingly cous cous and mint tea are popular, both of which are excellent. Fresh orange juice is also brilliant, and exceedingly cheap. Being an Islamic culture, beer is hard to come by, expensive and of poor quality.
So did I like Morocco? Very much so, I'm glad you asked. It's one of those places that are hyped up as something different that actually delivers. I'd even go as far to go top 5 at the moment.
I've now crossed over into Spain and am making my way North. I've got more blogs planned; just finding the time and motivation to write them at the moment is the thing. I think upcoming train trips might be the thing that pushed them along. Hope you're all well and not being washed away by all the rain. Bye for now