Morocco…or Maroc ….

Morocco...or Maroc in french...

 

 

Morocco…land of tagines..couscous…camels in the desert…and so much more.   French, rather than English,  was the principal second language, after Arabic, and Berber….so my high school French improved considerable.

I  spent almost three months in this very fascinating country and loved it…..it offers a great diversity in landscapes…from the wonderful Atlantic coastline (I didnt get to the Mediterranean in the north)…to the high Atlas mountains leading to the beautiful sand dunes in the Sahara….plus the busy and very ancient medinas throughout…and especially famous for the Imperial cities of Rabat, Meknes,  Fes and Marrakech.

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For first-timers to Morocco…a little explaining is necessary.   What is a medina = it is the older part of the city…mostly walled in from the new cities…it is where the life exists…the  different Souks or market places…where the main forms of transporting goods is donkeys or scooter type vehicles…due to the mostly narrow streets and laneways…morocco 002

Where modernity meets antiquity…Fes, with its thousands of satellite dishes on the rooftops is a fine example of this…

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How did I travel around  Morocco?

Well…there are many  mini tour buses for the  various tour groups…or  privately guided tours…

Morocco is a land  of  many old and new  Mercedes…

I mainly used trains, buses and taxis..

PETIT  taxis are for the cities…each city with a different colour… Red was the colour for Fes… they are a shared taxi…you just flag one down and mention where you are going…the driver will either say yes…and you jump in or they shake their heads No and keep going…. then you keep flagging them down until one is going in your direction.  Sometimes … if there are other people in the taxi, you are taken on a little out of the way ride, but usually not too much.  The minimum price was usually 7 dirhams (about $1 Cdn) plus the distance you’re going.  At night after a certain time, the price went up by 40%.   They are a very reasonably priced and quick way to get around.

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GRAND Taxis are used for longer distance routes outside of the cities and towns.  I used them as an alternative to Bus travel when there weren’t any buses leaving when I wanted; or when there wasn’t a bus route for where I was going.

Travelling in a Grand Taxi is quite the experience!  They put two passengers in the front, along with the driver, and four in the back;  so the desired place to be is by the window in the front seat.   Or…if you wish to have more space,  you can pay for more than one seat….or the whole car if you wish.

FOOD …the Moroccans are lovers of their daily bread…little round loaves served at every restaurant meal and bought fresh every evening.  india saui morocco 296

Tagines and Coucous are also high on their dietary choices….Coucous is cooked generally on Fridays……the day of rest for Muslims….Tagine…anytime….I learned to make Tagine when I rented an apartment for a few weeks…and learned how easy and delicious they are ….vegetable, fish, or meat choices…india saui morocco 297

 

Argon Oil …famous in the cosmetic world…and produced in Morocco…mostly by small women’s cooperatives.  I visited one of them, and was invited to join their group while they cracked open the nuts.

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AND …I learned how hard it is …. and how labour intensive it is to produce  this Oil.    These women sit all day long cracking open the hard shell of the Argon nut to retrieve the soft interior which is then pressed into the oil….This is after the even harder outer shell is removed, either by a machine, or eaten by goats who climb the Argon trees, eat the nuts and then expell them minus that outer covering.

My nuts kept flying everywhere….and I was only able to break open a tiny fraction of what the women accomplished….

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MUSIC  ….india saui morocco 305

…….music plays a big part in their culture, and especially in the touristic areas….Gnawa music is everywhere, although it relates more to the Berber culture from the desert…..I love the festivals that happen in May/June of every year…last year I attended MaWAzine Festival in Rabat ….. a ten day mostly free festival of music, ranging from big American acts like Rihannan to Moroccan/Algerian music, to African, to european based acts….There are 4 big stages with video screens throughout the city, to choose from….if you stand not too far back with the locals, everything is free ….            Fes hosts the Sacred Music Festival every June; and the port city of Essouria offers the Gnawa Festival right after.   Plus there are many local festivals year round through out the country….A big one is offered in the Valley of Roses, at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains every May.

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More Moroccan doors to open very shortly………………

 

 

 

 

 

 

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