No pictures available for April 1st. I got the chills and shooting pains, Becky sent for the doctor and I had 102 temperature. I was out of it and Becky said a very handsome Moroccan doctor took my temperature and prescribed some drugs. He had to translate to her using his Arabic to French to English translation app. Anyway, I slept most of the day and nurse angel Becky was really caring and wonderful to me. So we left early this morning for the 5 hour drive to Casablanca. What a trip this has been!
31 March 2017
Today we explored the port of Essaouira, saw the fishermen selling their freshly caught fish, and boat builders that need a year to complete a boat. We visited artisans' workshops and strolled through
winding, narrow alleyways of the city's Medina. I loved the blue painted doors!
29 March 2017
Yesterday we had our final day together as a group before we parted ways to Casablanca and Becky, me and 6 others continued on the post extension trip to Essaouira on the coast. We explored the gorgeous gardens of Jardin de Majorelle
Designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle and then owned by Yves Saint Laurent. We saw the Marrakech museum with lots of Berber art works. We had a lamb lunch that we ate with our fingers with the locals that was cooked underneath the restaurant. What, though, fascinated me most was walking through the very colorful and narrow old fortified city called the Medina, which is a World UNESCO heritage site. Absolutely fascinating! We all enjoyed dinner at the Red Restaurant and it was a lovely way to end the day. Before dinner the staff at our hotel threw a party for us with dancing.
28 March 2017
It was just a beautiful day to explore Marrekesh, the King's palace plus the opulent Bahia Palace where the Sultan lived with his four wives and 24 concubines. Gorgeous buildings resembling The Alhambra in Spain. We rode around in a traditional horse-drawn calèche. Afterwards we explored the Medina, the colorful walled city where the tiny lanes and shops are located. I absolutely love Marrekesh!
27 March 2017
We left the desert town of Quartazate, known for it's southern Moroccan earthen architecture, and where scenes from Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, Ben Hur and many others were set here. We traveled through the stunning High Atlas Mountains, en route to Marrekesh. Beautiful drive with windy roads, terraced fields and prickly pears. We arrived early afternoon at our hotel and explored the narrow lanes filled with shops, snake charmers, acrobats performing and it was just how I imagined Marrekesh to be. Our pals, Ellen and Fran, posed for a photo before dinner.
26 March 2017
Today we visited the community of Aït Benhaddou, meeting the locals working in the fields. The hour hike around these fields almost killed me, very exhausting but I had a lot of helping hands and during the entire trip where steps were involved. We visited the Imik Smik Women's organization for Rural Development and made cous cous and cookies. They hosted us for a delicious meal. Their organization is really empowering women and it was wonderful to see. Before we left they painted the inside of our hands with henna.
24 March 2017
Yesterday we left our tents and open desert
behind and set off for the oasis town of
Quarzazate, a city built by the French as a garrison outpost in the Sahara. Fascinating landscape that was the caravan route and the adobe fortress like towns were like out of Lawrence of Arabia. We took a tour inside a walled city, Ksar of El Khorbar and visited a Berber museum. Only recently was Berber taught in schools. The women wear bright headscarfs while the Arab women wear black ones. A very fun dinner with music at Chez Dimitri where actors dined from the films made here. The waiter asked me to dance and everyone clapped. Very uplifting after my difficulties getting up steep hills and rough terrain.
After a long and windy and sandy night we experienced the camels and music from the Gnawa musicians, a graveyard and Tuareg nomads. We also visited a Kindergarten. Tonight Youseff will talk about Islam.
23 March 2017
Day 8 We left the Chegui Kasbah on 4x4 vehicles and drove to the village of Rissani
where we visited a family home and learned about their Berber way of life. Afterwards we headed into the desert to our private tented campsite at a beautiful sea of sand dunes near Merzouga experiencing the remote environment of the Sahara. No roads, no people and total silence. Our tents are so cool with toilets and shower.
We stopped at a nomad tent and the lovely grandmother served us tea and showed us how to weave camel and goat hair. Then we gathered for a Moroccan cooking lesson, fantastic! After a delicious meal the wind started and we experienced a sand storm that kept us up closing the tent doors. All part of the Sahara experience!
22 March 2017
Yesterday Ellen, Becky and I explored on our own the tiny lanes of Fez, a remarkable and unforgettable medieval city. Today we had an 8 hour drive south to the Sahara desert, stopping along the way visiting the Berber/Bedouin nomadic villages. We passed the Middle Atlas mountain range, winding through beautiful pine groves and giant cedar forests. We crossed a 6000 foot mountain pass heading further south. We stopped at a ski resort town, Ifrane, and had lunch at Midelt. Everywhere we stop the architecture is beautiful, with tiles and arches and 1000 Arabian night's atmosphere as well as the place we are staying tonight, Erfound. It is the gateway to the vast Sahara Desert.
21 March 2017
Yesterday we explored Fez's Medina, the world's most well-preserved medieval city
with more than 9000 narrow cobblestone streets. We started at the mellah, the Jewish quarter and saw the elegant gates of the Royal Palace. Then we entered the souks (markets), a maze of tiny lanes and the largest car free areas in the world, every inch filled with bazaars, cafés, shops, donkeys and people with the intensity of life bursting at every corner. Lunch was in an exotic local restaurant and yummy. We visited a tannery where I bought a leather jacket and the guide wanted me to be his third bride, visit me every Friday laden with gifts (sounds good to me)! At night we had dinner with a local family and they told us their stories and shared lots of wedding pictures! She changed to 4 different wedding dresses during the ceremony!
20 March 2017
On the 19th we left the coast and set off for Fez, driving past almond trees in blossom, orange poppies, vineyards and rolling beautiful countryside. We stopped along the side of the road and a very hospitable couple welcomed us into their home. After arriving in Fez, we checked into our riad, a Moroccan home that was filled with tiles and decorative arches and mosaic Arabian touches where we had a delicious dinner
after a panoramic view of Fez.
19 March 2017
I left Munich for Paris on March 17, continuing on to Casablanca. There I was met by the OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) representative and we set off for Rabat, the capitol of Morocco and a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Casablanca. We and the three others joining the tour were driven to a boat on the Rabat harbor where Becky, my dear friend from Idaho, was waiting for me. Together we are 14 people on the tour. Honestly, I was exhausted when I arrived and the woman sitting next to me from Hong Kong said "white wine" and I got so excited because I needed a drink. Then she said it is coffee house...turns out she said "wIfi" and coffee house was the password. So much for a much needed drink. The real tour started on March 18 with an orientation by Youseff, our tour guide who happens to be the most enthusiastic and charming Moroccan young man imaginable. We saw the sights of Rabat and had a most amazing dinner at a restaurant hidden away in the back alleys
that was like out of a Movie.