We’ve changed gears completely. After many months in Asia, we’ve wound up in Morocco.
I left Mumbai on March 14th, and took a series of flights that took me from Mumbai to Riyadh, to London, and finally to Fez. I had 10 hours in London to get from Heathrow to Stansted airport, so I just took the underground and poked my head out in a few places so I can say I’ve actually been there.
We got to Fez and stayed at an absolutely beautiful riad (house converted into a small hotel) right in the medina (the old city). Fez is an amazing place, but we knew we were coming back later, so we managed to tear ourselves away and head for Essaouira on the coast to celebrate my birthday. So more on Fez to come!
It had been a few months since I had last seen a beach, so I was ready to feel the salt and sand in my beard again. We spent our days there eating fresh seafood and walking along the beach. On my birthday, we decided to go to a hammam (local baths) and get a good scrubdown. We found a good one and paid to have a massage and a proper cleaning from someone who isn’t afraid to cause me a great deal of pain in the interest of getting clean. So I went into the mens’ area and asked where I was supposed to go to get the massage and cleaning. The guy I asked told me that he was the one who would do it. So he started cleaning months worth of dead skin off me only to be stopped about 5 minutes later by the owner who came in and yelled at the guy in Arabic for a few minutes, and then turned to me and said, “That man is not masseur!” I still don’t know who he was, but he clearly was not someone who worked there. The proper masseur came in and gave me the whole treatment, which left me as clean and limber as I’ve ever been. In hindsight, I think the guy who got yelled at was just helping me out. It’s common for people to ask others to scrub their backs, so he probably just thought I was asking for a hand.
After a few relaxing days in Essaouira, Alanna and I were off to Marakesh to meet up with our friends Aisha and Nyman. We met Aisha at the amazing riad we had booked, and spent the night getting caught up with the happenings in our lives.
Marrakesh is a busy, crazy, tasty city. There’s tons of everythying going on all the time. We were supposed to spend one day there with the three of us until Nyman got here on the 23rd, but received an email from him saying he had missed his flight from Paris to Marrakesh because his guesthouse had misplaced his passport. Luckily Easyjet flies everyday, so the next day we met up no problem, and our little Humberside reunion was complete.
We had all wanted to do a trip to the Sahara, so we booked a three day trip from Marrakesh to the desert, which ended up being a lot of fun. It was a lot of driving, but it was driving through the Atlas mountains, which made the three days of driving tolerable. We spent the first night in a hotel, and on the evening of our second night got to Merzouga, and hopped on some camels to get to the camp in the desert where we were spending the night. Riding a camel through the Sahara is an awesome experience, but after two hours my backside was ready to never see a camel again. We spent the evening eating and chatting with other people in the camp, and Nyman and I decided to drag our blankets out and sleep under the stars right on the sand. After a few restless hours of sleep, it was time to wake up and catch the sunrise. Unfortunately the clouds had better ideas and decided to shower us with rain instead of the rays of a sunrise over the Sahara. Despite this, we still climbed up a big sand dune to get a view of the whole area. The good thing about going up a sand dune, is that coming down is simply a matter of jumping, tucking, and rolling, and you’re back down on no time! Although Nyman and I realized that this method also means you end up with sand in every imaginable part of your body and clothes. Totally worth it.
Luckily for us, there weren’t enough camels for everyone, so we got to get a ride in a landrover through the dunes out of the desert, which was very cool. From there, it was an 11-hour van ride back to Marrakesh. We made it back and enjoyed some hot showers. I began the process of ridding myself of the sand that was still in my hair, and beard.
We’re back in Marrakesh for a day now, and tomorrow we’re renting a car and doing a 5-day road trip to the south to see some beaches, and whatever else we feel like seeing along the way!
I have just about three weeks until I’m back home now, so I hate to call this the final leg of my trip, but it really is. What better way to spend it than with a good group of friends and a road trip to Southern Morocco!
ps. I’m on a French keybord, so forgive any typos.