Travel recap: Two weeks in Morocco

It's hard to wrap my mind around our two week adventure through Morocco. We saw beauty everywhere - the medinas, the mountains, the desert, the ocean, and (above all) the people. We formed meaningful relationships with fellow travelers and with locals. It's like no other place I've visited, and I'm grateful for the journey.

Our itinerary: Tangier > Chefchaouen > Fes > Marrakech > Essaouira > L'Ane Vert hostel (The Green Donkey) > Casablanca. We took a daytrip from Fes to Meknes, and from Marrekech to the Ourika valley and High Atlas Mountains. This map displays driving directions, though we leveraged cars, taxis, buses, and trains.

Our itinerary: Tangier > Chefchaouen > Fes > Marrakech > Essaouira > L'Ane Vert hostel (The Green Donkey) > Casablanca. We took a daytrip from Fes to Meknes, and from Marrekech to the Ourika valley and High Atlas Mountains. This map displays driving directions, though we leveraged cars, taxis, buses, and trains.

While we loved Morocco, it's not all positive. Everything there takes more effort, and while we felt rewarded for our efforts, we grew exhausted by the end of our trip. Here are a few thoughts

• Everyone is friendly. Super friendly. Great right? Not really. I'd estimate 30% are friendly because they want your money. They want you to buy some good or service, or they're trying to scam you out of something. This means to be safe, you need to be distrustful of almost everyone. Which is awful, because most of the people are genuinely friendly! 

A cat in Chefchaouen's blue medina. 

A cat in Chefchaouen's blue medina. 

• Cats own the cities. They're everywhere. Fat cats. Skinny cats. Young kittens. Mom cats. Some are adorable, clean, and friendly. But many are rabid, flea-ridden. Injured cats. Sick cats. And yes, some dead cats :(

• Hardly any dogs in the city. They're considered unclean in Islam.

• Goat cheese. Goat milk. Goat meat. Goat leather. 

• Donkeys transport goods through medinas (old city). We thought this was funny at first, but it's sad to see how some owners treat their donkeys. They pile on huge loads, and whip them to keep them moving. We saw happier donkeys in rural areas.

A happy rural donkey in Tafedna Village, south of Essaouira. 

A happy rural donkey in Tafedna Village, south of Essaouira. 

• Moroccan hosts are top-notch. We stayed in riads (traditional home, somewhere between a hostel and a BNB). Our hosts showed us kindness, respect, and hospitality. They engaged us in long conversations, and candidly shared their thoughts about Moroccan culture and cutsoms. 

• Haggling for everything. Not just the obvious goods. Haggling for taxis (cabbies don't use their meters). We haggled for sunscreen, almonds, and bottled water. It's fun, but exhausting.

• It's cheap. Gaby and I shared a multi-plate dinner with beverages for a total of about 65 Dirham. About $6.50.

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• The food is amazing. Tagine, cous-cous, mint tea. Moroccan wine is delicious, even though most Moroccans can't legally drink it.

• Every time I see a Muslim city in Western media, there explosions, chases, knife fights, and/or shootouts. I didn't see anything like this. I never felt unsafe. Except...

A grand taxi (AKA Moroccan death trap)

A grand taxi (AKA Moroccan death trap)

• Taxi drivers drive like mad men. They constantly pass cars on two-lane high ways, even through swervy mountain roads with low visibility. I rode constantly on the verge of peeing myself.

• Homosexuality is technically illegal, but I saw a lot of guy friends holding hands, and touching each other. Guys express their platonic friendship more physically.

• It's hard for me to get over the difference in male/female wardrobe. We saw a couple where the wife dressed in a black hijab and niqab (fully covered except the eyes), while the husband wore shorts and a Lebron James basketball jersey. I respect the differences in religion and customs, but this hardly seems fair in 90+ degree weather.

• Moroccan flags all over. A portrait of the king hangs in every building. He's on the currency next to his dad. He's a relatively popular guy, but I'd take our screwy system over a kingdom any day of the week. Talking to Moroccans about this makes me value our freedoms and civil liberties.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading these long brain dumps! I enjoy writing about the trip, and will probably do one more once I'm home :)