Shokran is the arabic way of saying “thank you”, and it’s one of two arabic words I learned last weekend. It’s perfect too, because it reminds me of all the things I can say thank you for in my life.
Everyone has been asking me “How was Morocco??” And my typical response is, “It was a good life experience, but now I never have to do it again.” It’s true. It’s one of the best life experiences you can have – visiting a second world country and, even better, a muslim country. But now that I’ve done it – I don’t have to do it again.
Here’s a continuation of my adventures:
We woke up early on Saturday morning and ate breakfast at the hotel – our options were 1) corn cakes, 2) crepes, 3) toast, 4) cinnamon rolls. Oh, and hard boiled eggs. Here’s the reason for this. Southern Spain & Northern Africa get SO LITTLE rain that it is impossible for them to grow anything other than olives. Basically. So in the past, they ate so much bread because it was the only thing they could afford. In Malaga, the majority of their vegetables come from the Canary Islands. And it’s not very cheap. (I learned this this morning from my host mom. :P)
We left for the Medina of Tetuan – a Medina is the “old city” part of northern arabic cities. It was built in the 15th century and tons of people still live and work in it now. It’s beyond me why something that old isn’t preserved – but at the same time, I think it’s pretty cool that they utilize it like that now. Maybe it’s just been repaired so many times and rebuilt and changed that it’s not worth it to preserve. The Medina is basically a giant, white washed MAZE of cobblestone and dirt narrow streets and dirty, run-down everything. Many of the streets are lined with people selling things or doing their daily business. Other parts are quieter and more “residential” areas.
No wonder they tell us not to eat uncooked fruits and vegetables. I walked through so much unidentifiable STUFF on the ground that surrounded the crates and barrels where they were selling their vegetables, olives, breads, cheese. And mixed in there are countless stray cats, oh and crates of squawking chickens ready to sell. And the best part was the man who was slaughtering his chickens right there in the street. And they’re sitting, completely plucked, with their throats slit and the blood dripping in the streets. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t think anyone would appreciate that image.
This is a very non-touristy part that our guide took us through because he wanted us to get a glimpse of real daily life. “We’re not in the US anymore, Toto.” is how I felt.
We ended up in a Moroccan restaurant, which was beautiful and very nice. Buuuut soup again. And this one was disgusting. I think I had two spoonfuls and I gave up. However, the lamb, and the couscous/chicken/vegetable dish was delicious. (My mom makes something similar) And I loved the tea and cookies afterwards.
And how convenient – a local woman came and sat down behind me and was offering henna tattoos for a few euro or dirhams. This one is fading pretty fast compared to other ones I’ve done to contribute to charity or whatever.
You may remember a previous post where I compared euros to monopoly money. Yeah, here I am trying to use dirhams – converting from euros (a 1 to 10 ish ratio) and then to dollars. So I was completely lost. 20 dirhams for a henna tattoo? Yes please.
Entonces, we drove an hour to Tangier. We took a panoramic tour of the city – MUCH nicer than Tetuan – and saw the nicer parts of town, and then my favorite thing happened. WE RODE CAMELS!!!!!!!!!!! This is the main reason I CAME to Morocco.
This is what I pictured in my head.
This is what actually happened.
Yeah, it was a 2 minute ride on a dromedary camel (smaller with one hump) in a small area on the ride of the road. Buuuuuuttt now I can say I’ve ridden a camel. That’s totally worth it.
To continue with the story – we went to the tip of Africa where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. It was an absolutely gorgeous view. Nearby there was a flock of sheep, which we wandered over to look at, and the arab farmers approached us: “you like sheep, eh?” Before they could tell us they would “i give you good price guapa (pretty). what you offer?” We scurried away. Getting a sheep through customs no vale la pena. (it’s not worth it)
Then we went to the city center and toured the Medina of Tangier. It was a lot nicer and safer looking than Tetuan. Nothing very special happened, and we walked around a bartered with some of the merchants (more about that in the next post – and it will be hilarious ;)). We weren’t really interested in buying very much, so my friends came back to the meeting point early, which turned out to be a poor decision… because of this child.
He followed us around for at least half an hour, asking us if we wanted to buy a toy camel from him. My response was to ignore him, which worked. Taylor on the other hand, was nice to him and said “No, thank you.” But then he pestered her for another few minutes until she said “I don’t like camels.” (not true!) and he wandered away for a little. Then he and his friend came back and begged us to buy his wares. I wanted to respond by saying “YES! Adorable arab child – I will buy ALL your things, and then I will take you back to America with me and I’ll take care of you and you won’t have to continue this life!”
Yeah, my parents wouldn’t appreciate that one.
Here’s the worst part about these people using their children – as we were leaving Tangier for the bus, a little girl came up skipping to our group and THRUST HER HAND into one of the girl’s purses! She’d been found out, so she simply walked next to us and held out her hand begging for money. I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly angry I was. In any case, after that we returned to the hotel in Tetuan for dinner and bed.
More pictures from Morocco can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151343071920529.813714.842835528&type=3&l=f207cf2c0f