Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Look, stairs"

Oh air conditioning, how I've missed you! I went to Morocco this weekend, and I was very excited to come back to my little dorm room and sit underneath the AC. Morocco is very warm. Amen.

Despite the Death Valley-esque heat, it was a good weekend. We arrived in Marrakesh on Friday afternoon, and someone from the hostal was waiting to pick us up and take us to the hostal. I quickly realized wearing jeans was a very bad idea, as I was sweating to death. Kimmie and I had brought conservative clothes (and by conservative I mean pants and t-shirts) because Morocco is a conservative country, but the jeans were like a very sweaty death. One of our friends let us borrow some linen pants and a long skirt she had, so I swapped my jeans for the skirt as soon as we got to the hostal. That made it a little bit better.

Vinnie had a friend who happened to be in Morocco at the same time as us, so we met up with him and his friend and headed to the Souks (the markets in Marrakesh). It was quite the adventure. We didn't really stop and shop at all, just looked around. The market is like a maze with shops everywhere. Spices are a big deal there, so there were a lot of spice shops. They also have a lot of leather products and fabrics. Lanterns are also kind of a big deal in Morocco, and they were everywhere. Their lanterns are really cool though, very colorful.That's the lantern in the lounge area at our hostal. They're really cool. Anyway, I bought a dress there because I was really not wanting to wear pants and we only brought one skirt. My first ever haggling experience! I thought I did pretty well. I probably could've gotten it for a cheaper price, but I did all right.

Anyway, the shops were kind of the big thing in Marrakesh. There is the Djamma El Fna square (I think that's how it is spelled). That's kind of where the souks begin. At night, everyone comes out because it isn't quite so hot. The square is really cool then. People come out and play music, and there are a million and two people trying to sell you shit. The key is to not make eye contact. If you make eye contact, they will chase you down the street trying to get you to come into their shop.

The food in Marrakesh was amazing! It was mostly halal food, kebabs and the like. They did have this one dish called a pastilla. It was so ridiculously tasty. It was like a meat pie with a sweet crust and powdered sugar on top. Oh my gosh. It was amazing. I must learn how to cook that when I get home. They also have the best orange juice I've ever had in my life. They literally squeeze the oranges in front of you and then hand you a glass of the juice. It's delicious.

The streets of Marrakesh are dangerous! Seriously, scooters of death everywhere. They don't really have roads, per se. But Moroccans think they have roads. The "roads" are really narrow, and they have shops and people packed into them. Still, people on bikes, bikes with motors attached to them, scooters, motorcycles, cars, even donkey-pulled carts think they can make their way through. We all got very adept at listening for motors or hooves so we would know to get the hell out of the way. We had a few close calls.

On Sunday, Kimmie, Vinnie, and I took a bus out to Essaouira. It's a beach town about three hours from Marrakesh. The bus ride was interesting.Yes, those are goats in a tree. No, it's not photoshopped. When the bus pulled off the road, and I looked out the window I did a total double take. "What the hell" was literally the first thing out of my mouth. The goats eat the fruit of the Argan trees, and then the locals pick up the seeds which are apparently found in the droppings of said goats. The seeds are ground into oils which are used for a variety of purposes one of which is Moroccan peanut butter. Which is amazing, by the way.

I had to google it when I got home: the goats actually climb up into the trees. Apparently food is scarce in the region (who knew?) so the goats, I don't know, evolved into tree-climbers or something. So they climb the Argan trees and chill up there. Weirdest thing I've ever seen, and that's saying something.

Anyway, Essaouira was cool. It wasn't quite so hot because of the breeze from the ocean. We had some Moroccan pizza, which was delicious. Honestly, I'm not sure I've had anything on this trip I didn't think was delicious.... Hm. Yeah, nothing's coming to mind. Anyway, we sort of just wondered around the town for a couple of hours. We went up to some cool fort they had and paid 10 dirhams to get in (that's like 2 dollars). It was cool; it had a great view of the city and a cool little place set up for pictures.While we were up there, I needed to use the bathroom. This is what I found.I decided to wait.

Anyway, there was actually a music festival going on there that weekend, but the concert didn't start until six and we left at five. Bad timing I guess. Oh well.

We didn't ever get to ride camels, which made me kind of sad. We just ran out of time. I WILL ride a camel some day though. I may have to go back to Morocco someday, which I would totally do, by the way. I loved it. It was an adventure for sure. Only, next time I go, I think I might shell out a few extra bucks for a hotel with AC.

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