We started the walk out of the port and we were immediately bombarded by cab drivers on the street trying to get us into their cab and just shouting and complete raucous. Also, dead fish all over the ground, trash everywhere and a hideous smell. Not impressed with the outskirts of the Casablanca port, but it gets much better farther into the city
. We ended up walking a mile or so before deciding that we really didn’t know where the train station was and took a cab. The dirham (Moroccan currency) is about 8 dirhams=1$. None of us had any dirhams for the cab driver, but he gladly took 2 dollar bills. We got on the train to Fez and it ended up taking 5 hours. It was the slowest moving train with so many stops. We got really lucky and ended up sitting next to a nice man who told us a lot about Fez. He said we needed to get a travel guide that we would find at the train station and we needed to make sure he had a badge and worked for the govt. As soon as we got off the train Mohammed the travel guide was there waiting for us. He immediately told us he had a great Riad (Moroccan hotel) that we could stay in. Mohammed, or Don Fez as we would soon call him, helped us check into the Riad which was GORGEOUS ! so nice ! Seeing all the beautiful Moroccan interior design makes you want to have an entire Moroccan themed house.
So Don Fez (he got the name because he kept calling us his daughters and sons and said he was like the Don Corleone of Fez ...he then did a hilarious Don Corleone impression....so we decided he would go by Don Fez the rest of the trip). He definitely lived up to it. As we walked throughout the alleys of the medina he literally knew every person and kissed them on the cheek and talked to everybody.
The medina is made up of markets, mosques, and literally 11,000 alleyways. It would be impossible to travel through this city without a travel guide. All the little alleys were dark and sketchy. Thank goodness we had a travel guide else we would’ve probably just stayed in our Riad. It is Ramadan right now so they can’t eat until sundown. As soon as it was 6:45 everyone was eating in the streets. Don Fez was literally just grabbing food from people and he would walk by someone and take a sip of their coke. It was the oddest thing. Like… imagine you are walking downtown and you see someone with a Subway sub and you just grab it and rip off a hunk and keep walking and then you see someone with a DP and grab it and take a sip. It was hilarious. Some of the little shops would just have huge lambs hanging and they would chop it up right there in front of you. then there was one with just a bunch of live chickens and I saw the guy put one on the scale for someone....apparently they chop the head off right there and hand it over to you! ewwwwwwwww Luckily we walked fast enough by it that I missed the murdering.
He then proceeded to take us to SO many shops. He would take us into a store and the owner would give us an entire tour and show us exactly how everything was made and then try to sell things. First we went to the rug store which had BEAUTIFUL rugs that would go for a lot in the US and were about 2000$ or less here but tooo expensive for us college kids. They had the most massive rugs with such intricate designs. They rolled out about 30 different rugs in front of us and served us mint tea. One of the guys tried selling me a 4X6 rug for $750. He would not take no for an answer and just kept asking me what I could offer him. We finally got out of there. Another place he took us to were the tanneries where they make leather
. That was obscene. We walked all the way to the rooftop of this tannery where you get a view of this massive courtyard where all the dead animal skins are and they are throwing them in these dies and it smelt SOOOO bad. There were so many different skins of animals hanging everywhere. Pat...I do not recommend Morocco for you. Then they take you into the store where they have thousands of bags, purses, belts, jackets… leather everything. I spent a pretty penny there. They barter with you, but sadly I don’t know if I did the best job. I still got a good deal compared to the price of a Coach leather bag…that’s how I’m justifying it. He also took us to a spices store which had a lot of saffron and many different spices, lotions, and oils. The store owner literally had us try every single lotion and oil in the store and then sniff these different spices which are suppose to cure everything that could ever go wrong with you. Marcie and Matt--I wanted to get spices to send to you wonderful chefs, but
we aren’t allowed to bring it on the ship because it might get critters? I don’t know exactly, but it’s probably for the better if living things can develop. I know this is so long and it seriously doesn’t describe at all the experiences we had in these shops and all the funny things that happened.
Don Fez then took us to an expensive restaurant that he claimed was one of the only ones opened because of Ramadan, which may be true, but at the same time he took us to so many little tourist traps. After Don Fez dragged us to all his friends’ stores we finally went back to the Riad to sleep. When we woke up they made us a huge breakfast with delicious pastries. I felt bad because they have to make us breakfast, but can’t eat from 4:30am-6:45pm. Don Fez had a hard time not smoking during this period as well, which led him to smoke an entire pack while he was with us the night before during sundown
. Don Fez met us at breakfast and took us all around the city again and this time to the place where they make amazing ceramic pieces. They give you the whole tour of how they make them, paint them, put them together. They had huge tables that were 3000$ which I’m sure would go for 8000$ in the US. Too bad I A. don’t have money and B. don’t have a home because there was so much stuff !
It was funny walking the streets...they just shout OBAMA! ! They seem to like him. They also really like Americans because they look at us and just see dollar signs. Don Fez drove us in a van all around the city today and he was A LOT of help, but he gets paid to give tours by the government. We heard you tip them about 200 dirham as a group. When he dropped us back at the train station he said we all owed him 200 dirham. We got ripped off, but we had such a good time and he was so helpful. I mean where anywhere else could you have a personal tour guide for your entire time in a city and pay 25 dollars. Sadly, upon our return to Casablanca everyone in my group got sick except 1 person and we were confined to our rooms and didn’t get to go to the city of Marrakesh. The Moroccan food turned against us. Once we all got over that we ventured around Casablanca and enjoyed the scenery there. Now we are back on the ship for a week before getting to Ghana.
Hope all is well in America!! More news from Africa soon!!
The last couple days have been SO crazy I don't even know where to begin and honestly there aren’t a lot of words I have to describe Morocco. The whole time my friends and I kept saying...how in the world are we ever going to explain this to anyone ! ! ! It’s so different than anywhere I have ever been. All the countries in Europe are so westernized and now I am in Africa where everything is in Arabic, no one speaks English, people ride donkeys, 98% Muslim. I feel like I’m in the movie Aladin. I will attempt to begin.