Morocco Dreams

Trip Start Sep 01, 2004
1
8
41
Trip End Apr 25, 2005


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Flag of Morocco  ,
Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Greetings,

A new country with a bunch of new things to learn. First is the keyboards. You can read all of the keys, but none of the important stuff, like letters or punctuation marks, are in the correct places. It adds a whole new understanding of the term, "hunt and peck".

Water is about the same price, 5 Dirhams, so the change in the conversion rate is not too dramatic for my little brain. The toughest by far is that this is the first Country that we have visited, that doesn't use English. Everything is either Arabic or French. Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer, and all the menu's are in French. I'm getting pretty good at guessing what the French street signs mean too. I'm usually only wrong most of the time. So far it hasn't meant getting on the wrong train or getting lost. It's interesting to hear French being spoken so much after a month of hearing Arabic. The food in Morocco is much better and everything is cleaner than it was in Egypt. It's more like Turkey, thank goodness. JoAnn may survive after all. :^) We are really not geared for long stretches in third world countries.

We seem to be developing a rhythm regarding how we travel. We move and explore, then move again until we find somewhere we like to stay. JoAnn doesn't get bored and I seem to really like the exploration part. After being on the road for a month (doesn't time fly) we are starting to feel those changes that some friends told us we would experience. Number one is the whole food thing. These backpacker type hotels we stay in always provide a breakfast. Tea, lots of bread type things and sometimes cheese, etc. Lunch, between 12 and 3, is usually at a stall type booth. Very cheap but stuff I like. We don't seem to be real hungry for dinners, so rarely do we go to a normal restaurant. Our hotels are never any place that we would have considered in the States. We don't really spend much time in them so it doesn't matter much. I will address some of other changes in future posts.

We left Cairo early one morning, flew to Casablanca in about six hours, took the shuttle train into the city and wandered around until our train took off for Marrakesh. We arrived in Marrakesh before dark and found a hotel with enough time left over for us to wander the Souq until JoAnn could find another carpet to buy. Big day, but it was a very amazing transformation.

We loved Turkey but Morocco is the place dreams are made of. Other than our inability to communicate, this place rocks! Marrakesh is exactly what I had read stories about. The mystery, the different peoples, and the level of excitement and energy are present everywhere. I'm sure that it has probably changed a lot over the years, but I was mesmerized. We went into the main square of the Medina (old city)after dark the next day when everything is jumping. The square is probably about 20 acres of cobbled open area that all of the alley ways of the souq depart from. Much like the spokes of a wheel with the most crooked spokes that you could imagine. A souq is a market area in the Middle East, made up of hundreds of small shops. These range in size from a small piece of cloth laying on the ground with figs for sale, to a door leading to a labyrinth of rooms filled with antiques. The food stalls, medicine men, dentists, preachers, magicians, story tellers, hena artists, snake charmers, musicians, and everyone else, doing everything else, set up for the nights entertainment in the square. That night, while we were wandering around, there must have been 10 to 20 thousand people in the souq. JoAnn doesn't like to be packed in so tight, but she had tons of fun. Ron and Bette-remember New Orleans on New Years Eve? That was small potatoes as far as numbers go, in comparison. After we left the Souq we went across town to a very upscale Casbah type restaurant for a "real" Moroccan dinner, in a building giving you the impression you were in an ancient Casbah. The food was very good and there was a belly dancer that was great entertainment. JoAnn danced with her a little bit but couldn't seem to duplicate the moves with her knee still not 100 percent. A few lessons, and then, watch out!

We took a large Taxi to Essauira the next day, about a three hour trip. These big Mercedes are almost like bus travel, without riding at the bus schedule. Not very expensive. Sometimes I think we are on a quest to ride every type of transportation available. Essouria is a very, very cool place. It's a very old, small, 35,000, coastal city that has all of Marrakesh's charm and a less intense press of people. The thing that really gets your attention is how happy the people seem. They like to joke with me and I think they understand my warped sense of humor almost as much as American do. I think that I have become accustomed to the Muslem call to prayers during the day, and will probably miss it when it's gone. All of this little stuff becomes so much of the experience. We had sea food today for lunch, on the pier, and it was soooooooo good. I had shrimp, lobster, crab, and some of JoAnn's fish. No dinner for Dondo! I told JoAnn that today I felt as if I have finally become extremely comfortable in these countries as we travel. It's almost like walking in San Francisco rather than in Casablanca. One thing that we have a hard time with is the fact that hardly anyone sells beer or wine. You have to go to a nice indoor restaurant to have a cold one. It's a Muslim thing. I guess that religion is out for us.

It looks like we are leaving for the Atlas mountains in the morning, by bus. We are anxious to see the Mountains and realize that time is short to get to Spain. We hope to fly out of Spain to London on the seventh. It's been so nice hearing from everyone and we enjoy your emails. The only thing getting tiresome is the constant clothes washing. JoAnn bought some Moroccon clothes today to break up the monotony of wearing the same stuff. As for me, wearing the same old thing works just fine. Write if you have questions or comments. Sometimes we feel a world away. Not sad, just distant. Take Care.

Love,
Don and Joann
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