This trip was my first on my own. I went with a tour group that puts together people and books everything. It is so nice to have someone take the stress out of planning. I couldn’t have picked a nicer location. MOROCCO!
I began my trip with a 5 hour drive to the airport. It was easy traffic and I made good time. I wasn’t nervous or stressed. I parked and checked in and boarded so easily that you wonder where all this good luck came from. My flight gave me time to catch up on some movies because I was too excited to sleep. I had a layover in Paris and was disappointed that there wasn’t more things in their international terminal. I attempted to nap while I waited for my next flight. It came quickly enough and I was on my way to Casablanca! Customs went easy and my bag was waiting when I got through. Always a good thing! Once through security, however, I could not find my driver. For about 15 minutes I was in near panic as I tried to figure how to get to my hotel. He finally showed up and got me on my way to Casablanca.
The hotel was quaint and I was rooming by myself. Lucky me! I hadn’t paid the extra fee for single rooms and had expected to room with someone. We met our group and leader and got our orders for the next day. There is not much to see in Casablanca because it is really an industrial city and not touristy. However, the Hassan II Mosque was humbling. It is magnificent and the perfect way to start the trip. The building is detailed beyond imagination and it is very humbling to walk, barefooted, in this holy place. The entire building is immense, as you can see from the tiny person in this picture.
We soon moved out of Casablanca towards Rabat and Meknes. As you drive you see livestock just picketed on the side of the road eating. There were many people in the fields tending their crops. And green, green things everywhere! When I think of Morocco I think of hot, sandy landscape. How wrong I was! Morocco is anything but dry and barren. Flying into Morocco you see green and the typical square patches of crop fields.
The lush wheat or barley fields could be seen all over the landscape. I was informed that each field was owned by a family and they, generally, worked them by hand, hoping to produce enough to survive the winter. I had the impression this is how things had been done for hundreds of years. I remember a field off by itself on a hillside. The wind was playing and tickling the grasses. And they danced and shimmered in such a magical way. Alive and happy to reach toward the sun. It was surreal.
Rabat, Morocco’s current capital city, used to be an old Roman settlement. You can see Rome’s influence in the many pillars and mosaics. The Kasbah (literally “walled city”) is a step back in time. Behind these walls lives an older civilization with traditions many hundreds of years old. You wander around blind alleyways and through a maze only a local knows how to navigate. The blue reminds you of the ocean or sky and the white shows their Arab heritage. It was a lovely walk through this Kasbah. The people were friendly and kind. No judgment or resentment. I was secretly excited to wear my head scarf. However, it wasn’t needed. I never received angry looks for being uncovered. The hospitality of these people is beyond words.
The Medina in Meknes was also a window into a different era. There were piles of spices, olives in many flavors, and fresh meat hanging in vender stalls. It made you feel like the old world was still alive. Many times with a warning of “Balak” to move out of the way, people with large hand carts, mules, or horse moved through the narrow alleys taking wares to and from stalls. The press of people and the shouting of sellers could be very overwhelming. I was approached many times to look at a vender’s good but never hassled to buy. But I did buy.
After so much traveling in one day and taking in all the sights I was very glad for my bed. The beds in Morocco are firm, very firm. Something to keep in mind if you like a soft bed. I slept very well regardless.
Please stay tuned for more of my awesome Moroccan adventure.