Thursday, April 23, 2009

Morocco, Marruecos, Maroc, المغرب... any way you say it, this country rocks

Wow, seeing as my adventure in Morocco was a direct continuation of my adventures in España, and certainly far before traveling to Budapest, this post has been a long time coming... but, idol days spent picnicking under the Eiffel Tower or on the steps of the Sacré-Coeur and perusing the streets of the Marais or shopping on Rue de Rivoli takes its toll. Also, having adjusted to the no-work attitude of the Parisians has made me lazy and fabulous. I remember little specific details, but the enticing pictures of my week-long tour of this fab Arab world country must be given justice.

The view from our amazing hostel in Marrakech

Jewish cemetery in Marrakech

Streets of Morocco

Jen and Molly (and me!) in Marrakech

Morocco included the cities of Tanger, port city where our boat landed; Marrakech, the quaint, but somewhat touristy, village that looks exactly like you expect Morocco to look like with bazaars abound; Rabat, capitol of the country and surprisingly modern; and Casablanca, avoid until you need to fly out of the country (although complete with one of the most amazing buildings in all the world, Mosque Hassan II).

Karen, Anna, Amine (our Moroccan friend), and myself in Rabat

Karen and I continued our travels into this arid climate and mingled with the locals. In Marrakesh we met Jen and Molly... what luck! We just happened to be in the same city in Morocco at the same time! Such a small world! We bought hookahs, jewelry, and ate the most delicious foods for pennies on the dollar. Moroccan currency is called the "dirham"... plural "dirAAham"... and a safe estimation of the exchange rate is 1 USD = 10 dirAAham. Full (and I mean FULL) meals of chicken couscous or lamb tagine, with bread, soup, mint tea, Moroccan salad, olives, and drinks comes out to be about 40 dirAAham, a STEAL!!!

Coca-Cola... the universal Equalizer

Even McDonald's is getting in on the action

In addition to the food, the souks (bazaars) of Marrakech and Rabat, among others, are filled with everything you could ever want, at miniscule prices and fractions of their real cost. Ray-bans, you say? They have them, at a tenth of the price... Wall-E? just 80 cents! Hookahs? Around 15 euro...? Sounds great! The legitimacy of some of these items is questionable... but hey, if it looks like the real thing and works like the real thing, why not!?

Souks in Morocco, you can buy ANYTHING here!

View of the ocean from a cafe in Rabat

Perhaps my favorite picture of all time- Anna, Karen and I at a destroyed mosque in Rabat

After 3 days in Marrakech, Karen and I left Jen and Molly (who had their own plans to head to the beaches of Essouira on the coast) and moved on to Rabat. There we met up with Anna (that little world traveler) who was on her AIESEC internship teaching English. Having a well established network, she introduced us to Amine, who was an amazing host and let us stay in his (legit) palace of a home for the few nights we were there. We then got to meet all of the AIESECers from Rabat and Casa at an AIESEC conference, and that night we went to an Moroccan club in Rabat! Let me just say, Muslims during the day and veeery different from Muslims at night! :) But then, I am referring to the young crowd, and all young people love to rebel, go drink and smoke cigarettes and dance the night away... which is just what we did.

After our couple glorious days in Rabat, and after a long, eventful, and incredible two weeks together, Karen and I had to part ways. She was leaving Morocco one day earlier than I was, and so we said our goodbyes and she headed to the airport. Anna and I continued our rampage into Casablanca for the day to do some sightseeing (specifically checking out the amazingly gigantic Hassan II) and where late that night I would meet up with Priya, Summer, Mike, and Molly (who were on their own Spain/Morocco adventure) in a hostel where we would rest up for our journey back to Paris in the morning. With much sadness it was that I left Morocco, but after two weeks of traveling out of a backpack I was exhausted, dirty, and ready to get back to glorious Paris.

Mosquée Hassan II in Casablanca

I really need to note, Moroccans are the NICEST people you will ever meet. While I say this at the ripe old age of 21 and being traveled in only Europe, one sparing country (and be it one of the most liberal of all of them) in the Arab world, and the Americas, I still think it deserves mention. Besides the every-so-often semi-frequent annoying man in the souks who wanted to sell us their wares ("STUDENT PRIIIICE!!!") I stand by my statement. Every person we legitimately met and spent time with was welcoming, gracious, generous, and kind. And to think, they were once under French influence ;) JK France, je t'aime!

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