When you think of Morocco, what picture does your mind paint? Riding a camel through the sand dunes of the Sahara? Hunting for unique trinkets in the Medina of Marrakech? Eating exotic delicious food while beautiful music washes over you? All of the above or none? I am truly curious, what do you really picture?
Before packing my bags for a two-week trip through Morocco, the constant picture in my mind was getting my fill of authentic and amazing Moroccan food non-stop while lazing on a lounge with a glass of cocktail in hand.
The reality was very different. First thing to note, getting the basic alcoholic beverage in restaurants is a rare commodity and 90 per cent of the grocery stores do not sell them, even in their more urban cities. Alcohol is not a part of their culture, so my expectations of trying out some exotic Moroccan cocktails was immediately shut down. Also, do not expect to see belly dancers lurking everywhere or people smoking shisha in every restaurant, not many establishments offer it in the regions I visited. The food culture, on another end, was a mix bag. You really have to dig to find the gems, and a large number of the restaurants in Marrakech serve really terrible food. I was hoping for an experience akin to my time in Spain’s San Sebastian with amazing foods served in almost every corner.
From Lagos, I flew into Casablanca and rented a car for a six-hour drive up north to Chefchaouen, the Blue Pearl of Morocco. With great luck, I was able to start my night in Morocco with amazing food at Lala Mesouda. Eating there remains a highlight of my overall time in Morocco and very few places were able to meet the high bar they set all throughout the trip. Another gem was Ksar Essaoussan in Marrakech. Beyond its food, simply trying to find the restaurant in the maze of the medina was an experience in its own self.
Unlike my usual solo travels, this was a mix of traveling solo, with a friend, and with a tour group. This was also my first time experiencing travel with a Nigerian tour company, local and international, and I was really nervous about how that would turn out. After exploring Chefchaouen and its surrounding mountains with a friend, I drove back south to experience a guided tour of Marrakech, the Dades Valley, and the Sahara of Morocco’s desert with Abay Tour and a group of over 20 Nigerians. The entire experience was mixed with hilarity, good times, amazingly fun people, while soaking in the culture of Morocco.
For those who have dreamt of riding a camel through the desert, let me just say that my nether region still cringes at the mere thought of the experience. The novelty quickly wore off 10 minutes into the bumpy ride and I started contemplating simply trekking to our tents in hot sinking sands for two hours instead. Thinking back on it, I am glad I did it and can now comfortably say that I would never do it again.
If you have never ridden a camel before, do it at least once and ask for a truck ride for your return trip. I rode on the rooftop of the truck while moving at a high speed up and down the dunes, you could have heard me screaming my heart out in exhilaration miles away and it was epic. Do a combination of both and thank me later. You may also ride in the truck if neither of what I did take your fancy.
Once my guided tour experience was over, I packed up my bags and went further south to experience the coastal life of Morocco in Taghazout, an extremely small town that is also known as the Surfer’s Paradise of Morocco. Yes, I attempted to learn how to surf there and I still fail woefully at it despite past attempts in Australia. I wish I had more time there because my time there was the most rewarding. I rented an apartment from the surfing school, Mint Surf, and the view from my balcony made me start counting the paltry coins in my bank account wishing I could afford an ‘escape from the world’ apartment. From Taghazout, I decided to visit Essaouira, a more urban windy coastal city known for its wind surfing sports and amazing seafood. I had just a day to spend here and I spent it getting lost in the medina, randomly making new friends and lazing away on the beach while watching people wind surf as the sun set.
There are few places in the world that resonate so much with me, and both Essaouira and Taghazout did. The ease in visiting Essaouira’s medina and not dealing with the overwhelming hassles from traders or getting much fairer prices also made it a better travel option for me over Marrakech. Visit https://www.youtube.com/ZeeGoes to see videos on my Moroccan experience.
No Comments yet