Tuesday, May 7, 2013

This Time for Africa! (Morocco)

Sorry it has been so long since my last post, this last month was insane! I’ll pick up with the weekend trip to Morocco with the program. We all got up early and got on the bus headed to the tip of Spain. We spent a rainy hour waiting for our ferry that would take us into Morocco. Once the ferry arrived and I got on I knew it was going to be a rough trip. The waters were so choppy from the weather the boat was lurching up and down. I was able to distract myself from the onslaught of motion sickness by the gorgeous view from the top of the ferry. The wind was crisp, the waves were crashing, and the beautiful outline of Africa was visible in the distance. Upon our arrival in Tangiers, Morocco we were met by a bus and our own Moroccan tour guide. She narrated while we took a short loop around the port city of Tangiers, then we hopped off to do a little exploring on foot. The center of the city is a web of streets and interesting architecture. We also stopped into a museum in the center to see archaeological remains. At this point we were starving so we went to a lively restaurant for lunch where we were serenaded by local music and entertained by a belly dancer! The food was just as good as the entertainment and all had a very sweet flavor. I still have dreams about that couscous. After we were so full we could hardly move we visited a Moroccan pharmacy. The pharmacist explained to us all of the natural herbs they sell that can cure everything from dried lips to sinus problems. It was so interesting to learn how Moroccans deal with elements in a natural way. The remainder of the afternoon was spent doing some shopping and heading back to the hotel. We were in our hotel by six every night for safety reasons, but luckily our hotel had an amazing view of the coast and a delicious dinner menu. We all dined together at the hotel and enjoyed more delicious Moroccan couscous and soup.
The next morning we took a two hour bus ride to the mountain town Chefchaouen. The town was completely white washed with blue trim to keep away the mosquitoes and help with the heat of the summer. The affect was very striking and unique. We spent the day walking around and learning about how the blankets and scarves sold are made. We were also given some free time in the afternoon to shop in the central market and I bought a handmade leather backpack as well as a handmade quilt for my bed.
The next morning we had a few hours before we needed to leave so we took a bus ride to the coast! On the way we had to stop and ride a few camels. The ride was short but riding a camel in Morocco was definitely on my bucket list. We also walked down into the Hercules Cave, a part man made part natural made cave. The intriguing part of the cave is there is a natural cutout in the rock shaped like Africa that water comes rushing in through. We spent the afternoon in Marrakesh  a fortified city with lively streets lined with shop owners and artisans. This was by far my favorite trip, mostly because the culture change was so severe. We traveled into a completely different way of life and rhythm of living. The poverty level was visible but it serves as a reminder of how blessed we are. Also, that richness of culture does not depend on wealth. I can’t wait to come back one day!
Walking the streets of Tangiers...

Our amazing Moroccan tour guide in Chefchaouen

Lunch :)

Learning how the blankets are made