you´re probably in Morocco! Seriously, Morocco was great, but COLD! I couldn´t believe it. And I can´t believe that it has been so long since I have been able to sit down at a computer, with a normal keyboard, and type a bit about what has been going on.
So obviously, we finally left the Madrid airport, no thanks to Iberia, another cancelled flight and over 250 more dollars spent. I am still arguing that part, so let´s hope that money comes back to me eventually. But point being, we made it to Morocco and started our adventures in Marrakech. Of course, I have so much to say and to describe, and of course, this internet cafe isn´t letting me upload any pictures. Oh well...I´ll post some when I can.
So Marrakech is a huge city and we stayed mostly in the center of the old Medina, full of winding mazes of souks, or stores, filled with anything you can imagine, full of great colors and smells. You can walk through the souks and get lost among the myriad of little shops. During the day we had a bit of sun, and if you held still in the sunshine you actually could feel warm for a few minutes, which was great. At night, once the sun went down, everything turned very cold, very fast, and of course we were staying in places where heat was virtually unheard of. One of the many redeeming things in Morocco is the food though. It is absolutely amazing. I think that when I come home I will have a definite list of foods that I want to learn how to cook from the places I have traveled to. I bought some spices one day...imagining my future cooking endeavors.
After a few days of sightseeing there, we headed to the southeast of Morocco, on the most crowded bus I have EVER been on. An 11 hour bus ride, almost all men and our three little tourist selves, and people so packed in that some people actually stood the entire ride. We discovered that we were in Morocco for the time of a special feast, when everyone is trying to return home to see their families and buses are full to the brim. We made it to Er Rachidia at 4:30am where we were immediately identified as tourists and talked into a taxi to Merzouga (the desert) instead of waiting in the freezing cold for a 7:30am bus. While waiting for the taxi, we bargained a hotel deal and a desert safari down from about $80 each to about $45. Gotta love the low season. :)
Our luxury acomodations in the middle of the desert!
So about 7:00am we arrived in Merzouga and slept for a few hours, then drank copious amounts of mint tea, which is delicious and full of sugar in Morocco, and then hopped on our camels and rode out into the sahara dunes for about 2 hours. We got to see the sunset and then feel, once again, the intense cold that followed. Luckily we were there with a small group, but all good people, so we had a fun time. It was the three of us, two Czech guys and then the 4 local guides. In the morning we were awoken early enough to watch the sunrise, then hop back on the camels and head back to our hotel (with hot water!)
Sunrise in the Sahara Desert
The following day we headed to Fes and wandered around the shops and the Medina.
This is just a glimpse of how incredibly crowded it can get. Locals are more than happy to help you get un-lost in the medina, for a price. Many offer to be your guide from the get-go, and will barely take no for an answer. They all say they aren´t doing it for money, but to practice their english, which is not true at all. We had fun though and saw a lot of cool things. I have to say, I enjoyed Marrakech better than Fes. It is much easier to manage and I think more interesting. So we spent one day in Fes and the following day was the actual feast-celebration that we had been hearing so much about. We passed people all day long carrying or carting their sheep (for slaughter) back to their homes. Some took the sheep in carts, some over their shoulders, and we even saw one guy with a sheep on his lap as he rode his scooter through town. Amazing that of all the sheep I saw, I think only one of them actually realized what was in store for it the following day.
We got two offers to go to spend the feast day with a Moroccan family, and were warned that everything in Fes would be closed that day anyway. So we ended up going to another local town about 20 minutes from Fes and spending the day with one of the guys we had met at the hotel in Merzouga. Rachid and his family were probably the nicest family on earth. They welcomed us into their home and fed us and fed us and fed us. Lucky for us, we arrived after the actual slaughter of the sheep too! We walked around town, got caught in a torrential downpour and were soaked through for the rest of the day. Remember, no heat in Morocco. We still aren´t really sure how in the heck those people stay warm. :)
Hassan, Rahima, a friend, me, Rachid(our host), and Alyson
Two train rides a ferry and a busride later, we arrived in Sevilla, Spain. Wow. What a difference! We had beautiful weather yesterday and today it is raining. Sevilla is beautiful, and has tons of streets lined with orange trees. It is really quite amazing. We will be here until Sunday morning, when we go back to Madrid and then fly to Paris. It is really nice to be somewhere kind of cold though, because it really makes it feel like Christmas finally. There are decorations everywhere and I have to say that I am pretty happy to be here. Also, it is really hard not to want to shop because every store is having Christmas sales and the stuff here is so cute! But alas, traveling with a backpack is keeping me a bit focused, although I admit to buying two pairs of shoes yesterday which I just couldn´t pass up! Between them and my rolling pin I think I have lost my mind! :)