Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Morocco- November 1-6th

We spent 5 days in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Day 1: The first day was definitely the most adventurous day for Jamie and me. After taking only a few minutes to settle in and change we grabbed a cab and headed into the mountains around Marrakesh. This was completely unbelievable. There is no way I could write how different the cultural expectations were and how immediately visible they were. We were lucky to have our friend Jamal from Marrakesh to show us around because I do not speak French or Arabic- the 2 main languages in Morocco. Anyway, while on the way into the mountains we stopped to have a camel ride. Camels are not comfortable or attractive but, alas, I rode a camel. After camels we continued driving and drove through tons of small villages on the way which, in no way, resembles the big metropolitan atmosphere of Marrakesh. All women were dressed in full scarves, donkeys were everywhere carrying carts, small boys stood on the road trying to sell local fruit, and open stores to keep them cool from the heat. Don’t get me wrong, there are clear areas of Marrakesh where poverty is obvious and where markets are fashioned in the same manner; however, these smaller villages were extreme.

After arriving in the mountains we started the climb up. Small stores and shops lined the mountains and trails to grab tea or souvenirs. The climb wasn’t too bad but the weather in Morocco was about 25 degrees Celsius every day. Finally we arrived a clearing where the stream met a waterfall. Looking down over the mountain was incredible. The sound of the waterfall behind you and the markets below is something I will never forget. It was also incredible to across the horizon and see the villages which are built into the side of mountains. Remind me to use donkeys when I build my house (just kidding). To rest we grabbed Moroccan tea, which is delicious, ate bread and talked to Jamal. He filled us in on some normal Moroccan traditions and holidays. Again, when he explained the method of courtship and how men greet each other in the street in local villages, I was speechless. To think that a majority of women in Morocco live at home until marriage is crazy to me. I was also interested in his descriptions of peace and violence. For example, Jamal explained that in the village where he’s from, when you pass another man in the street you say the Arabic word for “peace” to signify to the stranger that you mean no harm.

Anyway, after walking back down to the taxi we drove back into the city center of Marrakesh. Jamal brought us into the world famous Marrakesh markets. There were literally hundreds of small shops and places to grab food. It was immediately obvious we were going to be targeted because of our obvious Western appearance and shop owners continuously asked us to come into their stores. We were lucky to have a local with us to shew them away. We ate an authentic Moroccan meal (I can’t remember what and I’m not sure I want to) and headed to bed. It had been a really long day and we were both exhausted.

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