Otherwise entitled: City of Paradoxes.

The first exciting moments of my trip were spent in Morocco. Christina and I flew into Marrakech Friday morning (after a slight delay) and were excited to realize that though the Moroccan border security had taken an entire page in our passports, it was an endorsement page– no one stamps there anyway! So all was well. We hopped in a cab and checked into our hotel, which was resort-style with several buildings, restaurants, and a huge pool. After tossing our things in the room, we decided to walk to see the Koutoubia, a tower that stands next to the mosque in the city. It was a fine walk, but ohmigod it was hot! We estimated it was somewhere in the mid to high 90s. Ick!

Above, the tower. Saturday we decided to take a cab, and ended up snagging one that took us around for the morning– to the Palisades (where we were given the opportunity to ride camels, which we declined– but aren’t the babies cute?)

After declining the ride, Christina and I hopped back in the cab for a trip to the tannery, while I continued translated (French is widely spoken in Morocco). The tannery (while smelly), was really cool! We got walked around the area, which is both a factory and living space, and shown the different steps in making leather. The second step involves soaking in pigeon poo for 15 days. Eww! Below, a picture of the tannery and of the shoes I purchased (the outside still sort of smells…).
Sorry they are pictured sideways, but I was too lazy to fix it. After the tannery we went to a spice pharmacy, where they do everything from selling cooking spices to making herbal remedies. We got a guided (and interactive!) tour there too.
Then we called it quits for the day and went to lay out by the pool. Most time I’ve spent in my swimsuit in quite a while. The next day we were off again, though at somewhat of a later start; the palaces opened later. But we ended up visiting Marjorelle Gardens first, after getting henna (see below).
Then we visited two successive palaces, the Bahia Palace (the royal family still uses part of it!) and below that El Badi palace, which unfortunately is ruins.
My most vivid memory of Morocco will remain this: that it is a country of paradoxes, where cars and camels ride side-by-side, and where the slums adjoin ritzy tourist resorts. Our last day (today) didn’t allow for any time to explore, and upon check out we found something strange… the time on my watch did not match the time on the clock. Turns out the time had changed and no one had told us! Thankfully we had allowed plenty of extra time to get to the airport so we were fine, but what a surprise!
My recommendation for viewing Morocco would be this, based on my experience: go with a group, or with a man. As two women we were limited safety-wise. And I think it’s worthwhile to take a tour– a few days here, a few days there, across Morocco. But that’s just my opinion. Overall, an interesting country, but today it was au revoir, Maroc to return to Spain, where a week of adventures awaits.

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