My name is Sandy and myself and 3 friends travelled with Morocco Magic Travel in April 2017…following are some extracts from my diary.
“Not being schooled up on how safe it was to travel in Morocco and conscious of the fact we would be travelling in the desert alone and being totally mis-informed on how women travelling without men would be received in a Muslim country. Oh, how wrong we were in our thinking.”
“I now see the real Morocco in an entirely different light, a country that was to me mysterious but also kind of romantic as depicted in the old black and white movies, and even after this journey, it is still mysterious, but there is so much more to the country than I ever expected.”
“We drive to Rick’s Café in Casablanca which is a recreation of the famous bar in the movie…you just gotta do it don’t you”
“As we are walking the narrow lanes of the souk I see a small boy with his hands cupped around lots of green leaves and wonder what he is carrying so carefully. As we walk on, I see large boxes of leaves with hundreds of fully grown caterpillars…reminds me of childhood days.”
“After our meal, we check out the souk, OMG all those gold and jewellery stores, Lynne thinks she has died and gone to heaven, the colours of the clothing and fabrics are stunning. Watch out… here comes a man pulling his wagon of wares. Balack Balack…get out of the way.they stop for no- one.”
“From what I can observe, the only residency is within the old Medina with the housing in and along the mazes of lanes and appears to French speaking while the Arabic speaking residents appear to live in the hundreds of multi-story blocks in all stages of construction and OH&S doesn’t seem to apply here with men perched on the edge of buildings, sawing hammering and concreting etc.”
“Mind you, Lynne went up to the trader in the Souk near our Riad to buy 6 strawberries, but something went wrong in translation and she ended up with 2 x1kg bags for approx $3AUD. We are stawberried out and so is Brahim our driver.”
“The city started to crumble and become overgrown when the Romans abandoned it in1154. We spent a long time walking though beautifully maintained shady and fragrant gardens of fruit trees. and lots of wild flowers.’
“There is a colony of storks that have built their nests on top of minarets and any high structures.”
“The story goes that the Pool of the Nymphs still attracts women who believe that feeding boiled eggs to the eels brings fertility and easy childbirth.”
“Our seafood lunch in Larache was totally delicious and so inexpensive, a heap of small prawns, 3 sardines (Moroccan specialty) and 4 other fish, salad, eggplant, olives and another warm salad, all for 80 Dirham’s, about $11.00 between the four of us.”
“From there we travel along the coast towards Tangier where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, the style here has a very Mediterranean look and feel”.
“I’m loving this country. It’s so much more than I expected and so colourful, green and beautiful, not all flat and desert like I imagined”.
“ After shopping at Carrefour supermarket to get in some supplies of beer and wine we drive to the outskirts of the city (Meknes) to our accommodation, a gorgeous French style villa that has 5 guest rooms, so luxurious. Wine on the terrace and watch the sun set, so lovely”.
“We walk the Medina of Fez for hours with our guide. You need a guide here as the lanes and alleyways are so extensive, twists and turns everywhere. “.
Lunch didn’t happen till 1pm as I guide went to prayers at that time, however it was so delicious, cooked salads with Lamb Tagine and massive plates of fruit with the sweetest oranges and strawberries I have ever eaten.”.
We are taken up a couple flights of stairs and handed a sprig of mint. The mint is to sniff to help disguise the smell of leather hides being dyed in huge vats in the Tannery below us”.
“We visit the herbalists and he shows us his wares and we purchase Moroccan Argan Oil and Rose Oil”.
“We have virtually walked the length and breadth of the Medina…. our guide suggests we get a car back to Riad Sara, so all five of us pile into a beat up Citroen taxi, we hear the suspension groaning back we make it back”.
“As we leave the Middle Atlas behind, we visit the Cedar Forests and watch and film the Barbary Apes as they come to us to be fed and drink from water bottles. They are remarkable gentle and just take food from our outstretched hands”.
“ Along the road near Zaida we see 2 small children peeping out of the crops ready to beg for money. We stop and take their photos and hand over some chewy muesli bars, next thin Mum appears, then grandma and aunties so we have a group photo taken. I found some Lollies and nougat and the children are rapt. Grandma was suitably impressed and insists we come back to the house for mint tea. The home is close by so we all pile into the car… a bit squishy but we all get there. At the home Grandma instructs the women to make tea and pancakes for us all to share, so friendly and welcoming to strangers”.
“When its time to leave the older woman asks Brahim if he can give them a lift into the village. So he hauls 2 very large bundles of cut animal feed (that they would normally have carried on their backs) onto the roof racks, we all hop into the car and off we go again”.
“Today we travel to Merzouga and the Western Sahara, along the way we stop for many photo shoots of the Middle Atlas Mountains, the road is extremely steep and from the lookout points along the switchbacks you can see where you are going and where you have been…amazing, but a bit scary.”
“From Errachidia in the north to Rissani this are is full of date palms and is considered the date capital of Morocco. We call into Erfoud and visit with Brahims wife and his family for cakes and mint tea before we head to Merzouga”.
“There is a procedure here with mounting the camels with the one at the back having to be mounted first and then the next etc. Ok, so now seated on this beast, bum well padded with blankets, off we go, white knuckled and hanging on for dear life. After awhile we think this is easy and get adventurous and let go altogether for parts of the trek”.
Our cameleer at on stage stops and buries the lead rope in the sand, (yeah, like that’s going to hold him) he then darts around the side of the camel and attempts to catch a sand fish, but it eludes him. I was secretly happy he didn’t catch it”.
“ The dunes are amazing and although the camels walk within 2 feet of the crest, which has a knife like edge, it remains intact (and so do we(“.
“We watched the sunset on the way and marveled how the dunes colour changes from rose gold to shades of orange, pink and purple.”.
“Our dinner of soup, bread and chicken tagine was so totally delicious followed by fruit”.
“we follow the cameleers up into the dunes carrying a huge blanket and lie on our backs looking up at the stars trying to pick out scorpion and Orion etc. After laying there for ages with one of the cameleers telling us bad jokes and the other ones whispering the answers we head off to our very comfortable tents for a peaceful nights sleep”.
“We drive out to Ergchebbi Dunes along an old riverbed. Lots of rocks with fossils, wild donkeys and hobbled camels, nomad tents, and flocks of sheep or maybe goats”.
“we are fortunate enough to be taken to a Berber camp and watch a Berber lady making bread, this they do every day. We visit the main tent and interact with the family. The young nomad boy sits with me and I open an Ipad game which he and I play together”.
“During the late afternoon, the sand storm gets more severe and there is no surface that is not covered in sand, even the pool has changed colour due to the sand but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone and we all sit around drinking and swimming.”
“Shirley and Lynne have their hands decorated with Henna by Malika, Brahims wife. Absolutely brilliant job. As we are leaving the family we are each given a bag containing a gift, courtesy of Morocco Magic Travel, this turns out to be a beautiful headscarf Brahims mother has personally embroidered with traditional Berber patterns and colours. Totally tops off a magnificent day”.
“Bye Bye Sahara desert, though I am taking some of you with me in my suitcase, my clothes and my hair”.
‘Cannot believe that this is the last stay before Marrakech which is the end of the tour, it has gone son quickly”.
“Brahim takes us off-road along a white knuckle track where we come across a Berber Nomad camp, it’s a hard life living in the caves in the High Atlas above Ouarzazate. The camp is very basic. I cannot imagine living like this”.
“Ah Marrakech, we finish up at the main market are which is huge here I film vipers and black cobras, 3 or 4 different area here for vipers and cobras”.
“we are loving the freshly squeezed orange juice everyday. A swarm of bees have decided to join us for breakfast and we have to keep rescuing them from the honey pot. Another perfect day and we are off again”.
“ We travel for nearly 3 hours through the High Atlas to the Ourika Valley, absolutely stunning valleys and mountains and the rivers are running very quickly due to the melting snow.. This is our lunch stop. The best tagine ever.”
“Whiling away the time at the airport I reflect on the last 15 days. We have seen and experienced far and beyond all my expectations. This country has totally ticked all the boxes for me, I don’t believe that the regular tours could have provided the opportunities and adventures that this tour has. Brahim improvised when it was required to the extent that when things went slightly off track, he provided alternatives that may well have turned out even better than the original itinerary. Loved the country, the weather, the food and the people. Dispelled all the doubts and anxieties we were initially feeling about this country, we all felt totally safe at all times and had ne of the best adventures of my life.”.