Saturday, March 17, 2018

World tour: Morocco

Since leaving Hungary two months ago, we've been in Morocco.  I tried to visit North Africa sixteen years ago during a trip to France and Spain, but was thwarted at the last minute by some trouble with a train conductor.  That near miss made me all the more excited for Morocco on this trip.

We started in Marrakesh near the base of the Atlas Mountains.  I knew there were mountains in Morocco, but I had no idea they were so large.  The tallest mountain in the range is 13,670 feet above sea level and Marrakesh is at 1,500 feet so the mountains have a larger prominence than those along the Front Range or the Wasatch Front.  The Atlas were beautiful and covered with snow.  We didn't bring enough clothes to stay warm in the mountains in February, but I would love to come back to Morocco and hike all over the Atlas someday.

The average wage in Morocco is quite low, so we found it affordable and convenient to hire a private van to drive us between cities instead of using the trains.  The highway system in Morocco is modern and well maintained.  Their rest stops are some of the best I've seen.  Each one had a selection of food vendors, at least one good playground and a small mosque where travelers could pray.  If we visit Morocco again, we'll definitely rent a car.

Anyway, Casablanca was next in line.  Our apartment there was just a couple blocks away from the tallest mosque in the world.

The mosque was really pretty.  It reminded me how much I like Arab architecture with its clean lines and subdued, natural colors.  The mosque was surrounded by quiet gardens:

Between the gardens were covered walkways.  Each one had ceilings with hand carved and hand painted decorations:

Other than the mosque, Casablanca, like most Moroccan cities, is not a destination for sightseers.  Unlike Europe, there isn't much of historical or architectural interest.  We were quite happy with that.  We just enjoyed walking through the city and living our life alongside everyone else.

After Casablanca, we went all the way north to Tangier.  Our apartment was on a hill overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar.  It was cool to see Spain on the other side and to watch all the container ships crossing between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.  It rained almost the entire time we were there, but we managed one day at a nearby beach once the sun came out:

Our last stop was Fes.  Our apartment was inside the medina right next to the souq.  We went into the souq each day to buy groceries for that day.  There are hundreds of vendors, each with a small shop specializing in one or two items.  You buy bread at one place, eggs at another, fruit at yet another, etc.  It's sort of like a farmer's market the size of an entire city.  By the end, Kinsey was a pro and knew which shops had the best food of different kinds.  The fruit vendor that she preferred recognized our children as they walked through the souq and would give them free strawberries as they passed by.

Overall, I liked Morocco.  If we visit again someday, I'd try to spend most of our time in the rural areas.  The cities are a fun experience once, but the beautiful mountains and open spaces called my name.  I would also love to cross the Atlas and spend some time on the Saharan side of the country.  There's so much beautiful world and so little time.

Next stop: New York and Las Vegas

1 comment:

Mary Hendricks said...

I've heard beautiful things about Morocco. When I was in Sicily I met a friendly Moroccan man who took me on a tour around some old sites.

If you're going to be in Las Vegas, why don't you come down to LA. You could say in my log cabin, which is kinda small, but I'd love to house you.

Let me know the dates, and perhaps Rick and i could even drive there. I have a few local trips planned in March, April, and may. So let me know!!