Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Whole New World

So after waking up at 3am, taking a 3 hour bus, 2 hour ferry and 7 hour bus again, we finally made it to MOROCCO. Our first stop in Africa was in Fes, Morocco where the first time on this trip, and maybe even my life, I had severe culture shock. It's just plain uncomfortable to be a woman in that city. The men don't just ogle you like they do in Spain, they stare at you with eyes that drive right through you. Almost all the women wear headscarves and the men have identical outfits of black leather jackets and jeans. 

After we got to the hotel we wanted to explore as usual so we took a walk around, looking for some type of cafe where we could sit and have some Moroccan tea. We soon realized every cafe was completely filled with these creepy, wide-eyed staring men. So we quickly U-turned around and went back to the hotel where we sat in the comfy couches of the lobby and enjoyed some tasty mint tea with fresh whole mint leaves! 
Then we had a dinner buffet at the hotel (which was so nice because we were honestly too creeped out to wander into the wilderness again). The food reminded me of when my Dad and I go out for Indian buffet but this food was comparably subpar. I filled my plate with a little taste of everything- fish, lentils, some yellowish veg soup, stringed beets, cucumber salad, grilled eggplant, carrot salad and actual WHEAT rolls. 

Day 2: The Medina
Today we went to the Medina and I really felt like I was finally in Morocco. It was a labyrinth of small, narrow streets with donkeys being the main mode of transportation/shipping. The Medina in Fes is the largest urban area without cars in the world, made up of over 9600 streets. We were led by our Berber guides (which we were told time and time again to ALWAYS stay with or else we would get lost and probably never leave the medina/morocco again because it is such a huge maze) to the typical stores. 
[One of the guides was known as Uncle Joe and he spoke Arabic, Berber, Spanish, English and French fluently. He had recently visited the US and just so happened to stay in Ray's hometown of Alexandria, VA. He enjoys Bluegrass and long walks on the Sahara]. 

Dates for days

Our first stop was the leather dying section but it was too expensive for me (meaning the Berbs wouldn't haggle to my satisfaction). Next was the spice store where I loaded up on some garam masala, some picante spices and the infamous Moroccan oil for your hair. We also stopped at a carpet store where the smallest carpets still cost around 800 euros. Granted, they were handmade and absolutely gorgeous but as a college student with a constant increasing debt, a constant decreasing income and a rented apartment, I think an 800 euro rug is semi-unnecessary. It just seemed like a strange place for the Berbers to take us but in retrospect I'm glad we saw it. Now I'll know exactly where to tell the hubby we can go for rug shopping- 12 Berber St, Medina, Fes, Morocco. In truth I will never be able to find wherever we were again. 

We had lunch at a typical Moroccan restaurant within the medina. We started off with a huge assortment of tapas (served with the usual bread of the country- it's almost like a fluffier pita). The second course was a huge plate of couscous, chicken, carrots, zucchini and the same weird potato-like yellow vegetable we had had earlier in a soup. For dessert there was oranges, bananas and strawberries (which became a game to eat because we didn't want any of the fruits touching the strawbs - we're not supposed to eat the fruits without peels if we want to keep our stomachs ...regular). There were also some delicious coconut cookies and mint tea with dessert. 

Day 3: Off to the Sahara

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