Africa was the final frontier, so to speak. I’d visited six out of a possible seven continents before reaching terra firma in Africa and after finding some relatively cheap flights from Switzerland; I completed my grand slam of continents.
Morocco was my entry point into Africa and it couldn’t have been more of a culture shock. Please take into account that I’d been out of South America for about three months and I wasn’t used to bustling streets, beggars and people harassing you to buy various items that you wouldn’t need in three lifetimes, let alone one. I’d gotten used to the tranquility of Iceland and Switzerland and the noise in Morocco really got to me. After spending only a few hours walking the streets of Marrakech once I had arrived, I needed to retreat to the comforts of the hostel for some R&R. It sounds pathetic, but in my defence, I had to take a taxi, train, bus, plane and another bus to get from Zurich to my hostel in Marrakech, and I was pretty tired. Haha.
I spent a total of 11 days in Morocco and in that time I travelled from Marrakech to Casablanca with a stop in the small student town of Settat. I have a friend who is half-Belgian and half-Moroccan and his cousin lived in Settat, so I stayed with him for a couple of days before moving onto Casablanca, where I was afforded his family’s holiday home. Having an apartment, and kitchen, to myself was absolute bliss! I ate a lot, watched movies and read The Kite Runner. Perfect.
The highlight of Morocco for me was definitely my trip into the Sahara Desert. I have a real disliking for organised tours and advise friends to always book things themselves because it’s cheaper and you have greater freedom, but unfortunately it’s pretty hard to do this when heading into the Sahara. It worked out well, though, because there was severe flooding (what the hell, right?!) and many roads were closed, which meant towns were inaccessible and my plans would have been in disarray. The Sahara was everything you’d picture it to be, with rolling golden sand dunes in every direction and camels used as the main mode of transportation. It was a real treat.
The Five Senses of Morocco
Morocco looks like rain. This is probably the last thing I would have thought Morocco would have looked like, but I visited at a time when the country experienced some of the worst flooding in its history. Rivers rose by over five metres in some parts.
Morocco smells like manure. It doesn’t sound great, but with the amount of horses, donkeys and camels, their droppings were bound to cause a smell!
Morocco feels like the Middle East. I know it’s technically in Africa, but Morocco felt more like a Middle Eastern country than an African one.
Morocco tastes like Tajines. Tajines are a type of stew dish containing meat or vegetables that is a part of the traditional Berber culture and cooked in a ceramic dish with a conical-shaped ‘lid’. They were delicious!
Morocco sounds like horns. I can never understand why motorists use horns in traffic jams when it clearly won’t help, but this didn’t stop the Moroccans!
Morocco was a pretty cool country to explore and I would have liked to visit a few more cities, but the floods didn’t allow this so I’ll have to return one day!
Country number 51 – Morocco… Check!