Peace Out, Morocco

After fifteen days on the road with the most boring group of people I have ever met (entirely excluding the one or two who actually had enough intellectual curiosity and lack of self-centeredness to ask me for this Blog address; you know who you are, so please don’t be offended because this is not directed at you), I am happy to say goodbye to Morocco tomorrow morning and head to Venice, where I will be stationed for four or five weeks. Surely there will be a plethora of food and experiences to share with you during that time.

Just as a quick note, as I mentioned, I was largely unhappy with the tour I took, so if you want advice related to this, please feel free to email me or send a message. That said, my issues relate to the tour company, not the tour leader, who happens to be very good. He also does private tours on request, making it cheaper than going through a company, so if you want his info, let me know.

Alright, back on point. The food in Morocco is very good, but also very repetitive. Basically, you have the option of a variety of tangines, couscous, or brochettes (i.e. kebabs). Westerners often go out in search of “authentic” restaurants where locals eat, but the truth is, from what I understand, Moroccans don’t really go out to eat. This is a fairly poor country and while the food is good, it is not as though Moroccons are interested in gastronomical experimentation, and, accordingly, they see no reason to eat out and spend more than they would spend eating the same thing at home. This is also why I am not sure why Westerners are so keen to seek out pricey restaurants here. If you want authentic, basic is better – that’s the stuff people are actually eating at home.

For my last Moroccan dinner I had couscous with vegetables, raisins, and lamb (it was supposed to be vegetarian, but whatever). This was only the second time I had couscous in Morocco and it really is good – much lighter and fluffier than I have ever had at home. Sometimes it is even cooked in the tagine.

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Before meeting with the group for dinner (THANK god, no more group dinners), I went for a walk around Jemaa el-Fna, the main square in Marrakech and one of the most frenetic and lively squares in North Africa (or so they say; I have very little basis for comparison, other than Egypt). You may remember that this is the square where there was a terrorist bombing earlier in the year at a cafe. The building is still covered and there are abstract paintings on top (photo below). The square itself is filled with snake charmers, guys with monkeys, palm readers, henna artists, and other forms of entertainment in addition to lots of street food cafes, including street escargot. Yeah, I didn’t know that existed either.

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Walking around the square is truly an exhausting experience. It is jam-packed with people, I was constantly harassed, constantly asked for money, etc. A good place to see, but my two, fairly short, visits yesterday and today were more than enough. I couldn’t get photos of much of the crazy stuff because people hunt you down for money if they see you take a a photo. Yesterday, one of the guys in my group got chased by a snake charmer demanding money, snake first, for the photo that he took.

Today on my way into the square, I bought a delicious slice of pistachio, sesame nougat topped with almonds. If the guy selling it wasn’t so rude, it would have tasted even better.

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Alright, there’s always more to say, but I will leave it at that. I covered a lot of ground in Morocco (we drove 2200 kilometers) and I am glad a saw it, but not sure how soon I will be back. There are a number of reasons that this is not the most fun place to visit, especially for a single, white female. That said, I can’t complain about having the opportunity to experience it. I do, however, vow never to take a group tour again (other than small day trips or outdoorsy trips where I have no other choice). I leave you with a photo of yesterday’s sunset. Speak to you from Venice.

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