In the words of Ismael, my new Australian hostel buddy, Morocco is “a bit dodgy” (said in an Australian accent). And indeed it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was an incredible experience, but if I’m being completely honest, I’m thankful that I’m writing this in the airport on my way home and not in a ditch somewhere.
Morocco completely took me out of my comfort zone, more than any other country has. Everything about it was so unfamiliar – the culture, the food, everything. So for your entertainment, I’ve decided to share the most bizarre and ridiculous (but sometimes kind of awesome) parts of our trip. Here we go.
First near death experience: I think we’d been in Morocco for about 15 minutes before we had our first near death experience. For the purpose of this story, it’s important to note that in Morocco there’s no such thing as asphalt. Nope, all roads are just dirt. That’s it. And I’m pretty sure there are basically, like, no traffic laws whatsoever. Anyway, we landed in the airport around 11pm and we immediately took a taxi to our hostel. The taxi ended up costing 200 dirham – you can do the conversion online (also, this was before we knew we could bargain prices on just about anything). But because real roads don’t exist, the taxi driver dropped us off in an area that looked identical to the place where Slumdog Millionaire was filmed and continued to give us directions to the hostel that sounded like this: “turn right somewhere up there, then turn left, look for the arch, turn left again and you’ll be there.” Believe it or not, the directions made absolutely no sense, but luckily some nice Moroccan guys offered to show us where our hostel was. How sweet right? Wrong. Once we got to the hostel the two men guarded the front door and wouldn’t let us ring the doorbell until we gave them money. Excuse me? The five of us – Michelle, Nick, myself, and our two new “friends” – stood there in what felt like 10 minutes of pure silence and fear. I can say with about 99% certainty that if we hadn’t paid, we would have been killed and fed to the Moroccan cats. So another 200 dirham later, we made it safely inside our hostel. Happy Thanksgiving to us, right?
Casa Del Sol Hostel: Our hostel was absolutely amazing. I mean sure, the ground was dirty and the doors didn’t have locks, but the people who worked there were great. Not to mention the mint tea (see next point) and hookah were free – score. Shout out to my new friends from Casa Del Sol: Aziz, Fatima, Mohamed, and Ismael. Thank you for making our Moroccan adventures just a tad less frightening.
Mint tea: I read that mint tea was a huge thing in Morocco and for once, Google was correct. You can find mint tea just about anywhere. And you’d be an idiot not to try it. It was, by far, the best tea I’ve ever had. Lucky for us, Mohamed taught us how to make it so if you guys ever want to try it, just holler at me.
Henna experience: Everyone who travels to Morocco will leave with a henna tattoo – it doesn’t matter if you want one or not. Women sit in the Jemaa El Fna square and heckle you until you agree to sit down and let them paint your arm. Even if you say no, they’ll grab you against your will, sit you down, and before you know it you’ll have a henna masterpiece on your arm.
Camel experience: First off, I had no idea that camels were so big. I don’t care how knowledgeable you think you are on the subject of camels, until you see one in person, you know nothing. The three of us ended up getting a private camel excursion for a very good price (mint tea and a detour through a Moroccan village were included too). I would categorize this whole experience as near death – I mean, we weren’t even strapped in at all. What separated us from life or death was how tight we could grip a little metal bar (sorry mom, I know you’re probably in tears already). I can’t decide if camel riding was the stupidest or smartest decision of my life. I guess since I’m still alive and well, I’d have to say it was the smartest. It was truly once in a lifetime. Shout out to my camel – whose name was “Shakira’s Friend” – for not killing me when he had the chance.