Itching For A Culture Trip? Morocco Has It All
Morocco is a North African country that offers a multitude of magic thanks to its stunning mountains, starry deserts, paradise-like beaches, beautiful architectures, and lovely locals.
Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and likely off the radar when people think of travel to Morocco. Rabat served as my home base and I shared a room in a riad (traditional Moroccan home) with a handful of other travelers. My roommate was a pretty Brit and aspiring actress. We shared many laughs over crazy first date stories and a love of music from the 2000s (Chasing Cars, anyone?)
Kasbah des Oudayas is perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This city within a city will transport you to the 12th century with its grand mosque and stunning citrus scented gardens. About ten minutes from the Kasbah is the Rabat Medina. This older section of town full of traditional shops will delight your senses with fresh fruits, spices, leather goods, baked goods and everything in between. The atmosphere is fairly relaxed compared to the markets in some of the other cities and while bargaining is the norm I found that the originally quoted prices were quite fair.
My very first purchase in the Medina was a cup of sugarcane juice. The vendor asked me for 5dhs and I gave him 50dh and started to walk away. The honest vendor chased after me to tell me I gave him too much. Needless to say, he earned my sugarcane juice business for the remainder of my trip. I later learned that he was a University student in the city and helped his family at the stand when not in school. Such a positive young man even though Morocco has serious unemployment issues even among the well-educated population.
One of the most scenic places in Morocco has got to be Chefchouen. Anyone who looks this place up on social media will be treated to a multitude of gorgeous photos. Also known as the “blue pearl”, it’s located in north-western Morocco and many homes are painted in varying shades of blue. This hidden gem has been featured in Vogue and compared to Santorini in Greece.
The evening prayers here are an experience not to be missed. The hum of the prayers and sounds from the Mosque reverberate throughout the town and at dusk with the mountain backdrop is unbelievable. While in Chefchouen in addition to wandering the gorgeous alleys and visiting the Iglesia (church) and Kasbah I highly recommend taking a hiking trip to the Rif Mountains.
Approximately 45 minutes and a $20 cab ride later you will be treated to spectacular scenery. During my hike the sole of one of my shoes broke off. I had a choice of terminating my hike or continuing somehow. Wasn’t the most comfortable hike and maybe even not the safest but I was determined to get to the top. And boy was it worth it!
A trip to the Sahara Desert is an absolute must. The camel ride, the sunset and spectacular scenery are an experience not to be missed. Prices for organized tours range from extremely economical ($90 for 3 days) to #glamping which runs about $250 per day. I went economical and don’t feel that it took away from my experience at all. What I remember most about this trip was lying on a blanket late at night admiring the stars. The sky twinkled in a way I didn’t believe was possible.
My guide asked if #FOMO had kicked in. In the desert there is no Wi-Fi and so one is forced to completely disconnect from social media. I laughed responding it has only been two days so panic has not set in. He told me that he became a guide at 17 years old, leaving his family from a small Berber (the Berbers are indigenous people to North Africa) village. During his first few months on the job he was so homesick he would periodically cry. That said, now at 25 and being a senior guide, he’s able to send money back home to support his large family including nine siblings. He has grown to love his job and the interesting people he meets. On a bad day, he looks at the stars, prays, and feels that everything will be okay.
Living the fab life differs from person to person. For me, it’s making meaningful connections and rediscovering a sense of purpose in life through traveling.