Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
Trip End Apr 15, 2008

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Sunday, December 9, 2007

Our visit to Marrakech was the most exotic stop yet. Between the snake charmers, monkeys, singers, dancers and drum circles in the Place Jamaa El Fna, and the fearless locals dodging disaster on bicycles and mopeds...we were in awe of this place. The smell of incense fills the air and the amplified calls to prayer take you to another world.

We stayed in a beautiful Riad (traditional Moroccan B&B with open-air courtyard connecting the rooms) in the oldest part of town, the Medina. The streets are more like narrow alleyways, which sell everything: leather shoes and purses, scarves and clothes, blankets, rugs, lamps and electronics - no handicraft is excluded. We were instantly enveloped in the shopping frenzy and bought gifts for ourselves and others, always bargaining fiercely for the best price. Bargaining is a staple of the culture here, so much so that they people have made an art of it. Shopping here is literally like being absorbed into a series of Jedi mind tricks. One moment you are walking down the street minding your own business and the next thing you know, you are bargaining intensely for a rug, you didn't even know you wanted. It's a hard thing to explain but it happens over and over again. It's weird but kind of fun actually.

We met several locals who, for a small tip, lead us through the lesser traveled streets of the Medina for a look beyond the storefronts. A student named Mustafah took us to the ovens downstairs from the souks (stores) where the local women bake their bread and roast nuts. We stopped by a shop where men dyed scarves and blankets with natural vegetable dyes (cool pics) and, later, met an herbalist named Dr. Zhivago who gave us a lecture about the healing properties of plants and herbs. And finally, the carpet dealers, selling beautiful hand-made rugs made by Berber women in the mountains. These were true works of art that we could not possibly afford on this trip.

At night, the main square, Jaama El Fna, transforms into an open-air dining bazaar. Food stalls line up their picnic tables and serve up delicious seafood, couscous and salads. There is no better (or cheaper) place to eat in all of Marrakech and we enjoyed spicy suppers every night. It was some of the best food we have eaten in all these months.

Morocco is an awesome place, if not a bit intense, the people are genuine and their culture is intriguing. Come here if you ever have the opportunity, you will be blown away.
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danseomen on

I bet you that the food there was awesome!

ruthiem on

I really want to go there now. I also want to see the henna after you cleaned it up. So glad that you two can document this while you go.

emellcee on

Happy New Year
NOW I'm jealous -- really, truly. This looks utterly wonderful.
Happy New Year to u both,

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