Sunday, April 01, 2012
Bruce and I just returned from a trip to Morocco and Portugal with 9 friends. I forgot to let you know we were going in the rush to get everything finished up. I’ll tell you a little about Morocco today and then Lisbon next time.
After 24 hours in transit we arrive at our riad (b and b) in Marrakech about midnight. From the airport it was a 20 minutes drive through narrower and narrower streets and then a ten minute walk through the really narrow streets.
The next morning we woke early to the sounds of Muslims being called to prayer (5:00 a.m.). Breakfast was on the porch. Our day was a guided tour through parts of the old city. Just walking around was an adventure as we competed for space on the streets with other walkers, bikes, motorcycles, cars and donkey drawn carts. It is all fascinating and so unlike what we have at home. The souk is like a rabbit warren of streets and alleys.
Our guide showed us a tannery, rug stores, metal shops, etc. But the best part came in the evening at the main square. There each day a small city of about 125 temporary restaurants is set up. Locals and tourists combine to frequent the restaurants which accommodate about 25-50 people each. The food is all made on site quickly. Bruce ordered a bunch for us and we ate until we were stuffed. Then it was time to wander the square with its venders and entertainers. I tried to avoid the snake charmers.
After another day in town, we headed for the country. The first day was fine. After that our three 4x4’s and head guide were into country they had never been before. That second day we tried to cross a pass that was clogged by snow for 100 feet and no way around. It was back down a one-way, rocky road and then the long way to our hotel. We got there about midnight. The next two nights we spent at a tent camp on the edge of the desert but the guide and drivers didn’t know how to get there so it was another late arrival.
Our day in the tent camp revolved around a camel ride. Again directions seemed to be a problem but at least it was daylight and not over a mountain pass. We only had to go back a short distance to meet up with the camels. Here I am on my trusty camel. Our final day in the Sahara was another day of getting lost. We drove about 30 miles past our camp and then had trouble finding it on the way back. That night we stayed in huts built of one foot thick mud. They had beds, one electric light bulb and a door held on with wire hinges.
The food was surprisingly good but very repetitive. For one or two meals each day we ate their national food – tangine. Cooked in a clay pot with a cone shaped top, this is basically a pot roast with meat (beef, chicken or lamb), vegetables, potatoes, olives, prunes, and nuts mounded inside and cooked until very tender. The most outstanding food was the fresh oranges which were in season. They were served peeled and sliced with cinnamon. Tree ripened fruit is much better than what we get.
Our homecoming surprise was open water and no snow. Bruce does not ever remember ice out this early. Jason brought the dock over yesterday on March 31st. It is good to be home.