Hands down I was able to see one of the most interesting places this past weekend- Marrakech Morocco. This was the first time I was ever in Africa, however, I felt like I was in the Middle East. It was so interesting going here because I learned a lot about Morocco in one of my classes I am taking this semester. It was fascinating to note a lot of the things that I had researched for class.
Upon my arrival, I was pleasantly surprised when I only saw that one man would be touring my group around for the weekend. I figured that because of the dangers that follow an Arab country, the program that I went through would have more than one source of security. I tried to make the most out of my experience there and didn’t let my fear get in the way of seeing such an interesting part of the world.
The first day my group walked around the center of town to see the souk and enjoy a market tour. I loved watching all the workers make the leather so that you are able to see how it is made and trust that it is real. As much as I loved the leather market in Florence, Italy, this market was even better because it showed the process of how each product is created. Our groups stopped at a few places that our tour guide, Ali brought us to help some of his friends make business. Later that day we were able to visit a few traditional restaurants that were absolutely beautiful. From the outside you are not able to see the true beauty but the second you walk inside you feel like you are in some magical place.
For sunset, we all had down time to chill on the roof of our riad, where we were staying for the weekend. The hot sun was the most beautiful thing to watch as it came down. We all enjoyed the incredible scenery of Marrakech and built up an appetite for a delicious meal that they had prepared for us at our riad. The food reminded me of Middle Eastern cuisine and because of my food restrictions, I was basically eating couscous and vegetables all weekend. I couldn’t complain though because of how accommodating they were to make me special meals that I was able to eat.
The second day I was there we woke up early to visit a traditional Berber house. I was astonished to see how welcoming and generous they were when our group arrived. The lady of the house made us the most incredible green tea I have ever had. You can tell a lot of love goes into making it. I had one of the other woman who was there draw some henna on my hand just so I could support her business. After, we went to the mountains to get a camel ride. I have done this before in Israel, but here there was a better view instead of just desert you could see a river and mountains all around.
Our next stop for the day was the Ourika valley and Atlas Mountains. Here, we did a hike that was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. Obviously our group leader said the hike would only take an hour and a half and was completely doable… three hours later we were almost to the top of a mountain and had hiked up walls of hard rock without attachment or safety precautions…something that would be impossible to find back home. I was so proud of myself for making it all the way and got to enjoy a relaxing lunch at the foot of the Atlas Mountains by a river stream.
That evening we went to the Jamma El Fna Square to have dinner and it was extremely packed with locals who were dancing and eating. I was so exhausted from a long day that I told myself I would go back to the square on Sunday to play with the monkeys and do some last minute shopping.
Day three started out with a trip to the Hammam. I could definitely say that this was an experience of a lifetime. I was a little creeped out by the whole idea before I went but than I decided that if I came all this way and did not try it, I would regret it in the end. It turns out that it was so much more of a relaxing spa experience than I ever imagined it.
Later that afternoon we did a historical walking tour of Marrakech, which included going to an old University that resembled a Mosque and also going to a famous castle. Both were very beautiful and the architecture was something that I have never seen before. The beauty of it was that it had an Islamic influence.
Later that afternoon we went for more henna and visited a place that had spices and oils. I bought a few great souvenirs for friends and family. We went to dinner at this really beautiful restaurant that looked out on the sunset and it could not have been a more enjoyable experience to end such an amazing trip.