Route from last blog...
NYC - Norway - Marrakech - Essaouira - Tafedna - Essaouira - Marrakech - Ait Benhaddou - Ouarzazate - Boulmane Dades (Dades & Todra Gorges)
Oh Morocco, what a seriously amazing country. It is most definitely its own thing, not trying to be anything but itself, no place is like Morocco, only Morocco is like Morocco that is for sure. At times this country tested our patience, but lots of places do that. Then you dig through those testing times and come across something magical, and that happened a lot here. Some of the places we ended up in rank in the top places of all our travels (and we have been to many corners of the planet) and will leave lasting memories begging for a return trip for a long, long time.
That said, we quickly learned that there are two types of people here; the first group are anyone trying to sell you something in large cities (primarily Marrakech and Fes) and the second group is everyone else! And that second group, which was really 99% of all the people we encountered, were unconditionally welcoming and for some reason surprisingly to us,
Moonlit Starry Beach in Tafedna
it was pitch black when I took this shot, the beach lit up by the full moon!
really hospitable and kind to foreigners. The former, those persistent salesmen, you do learn how to deal with them, its just different than the persistent touts you are used to in say other countries. There was an aggressive insistence that we definitely had to get used to but once you figure it out its all good.
So we started in Marrakech, Teri and I landing a day earlier than one of our best friends Ally, who we picked up at the airport a day later. From that point on it was one of the funnest trips ever!!! Marrakech was as insane as you hear about while you plan for a trip to Morocco but it was fun, in no way sketchy, its just different; a place you definitely have to get used to because they are insistent, at times physically, about obtaining your money; but they are also just trying to make a buck so we don't blame them. The main square (the Djemma El Fna) is sheer madness, and deservedly a UNESCO world heritage site, and really comes alive at night. A main plaza full of snake charmers, street performers, food vendors (selling some crazy foods like the
dirty sock snails we liked the first night but they were extra gym socky on night 2) and much to Ally's demise, the insistent Henna tattooers who DO NOT take no for an answer, which was hilarious for us.
From Marrakech we headed to a lovely fishing village on the coast called Essaouira, a welcome relief from Marrakech for sure. On the way to Essaouira, we zipped past the goats in the tree, slamming on the brakes to take photos because, "were those fuckin goats in a tree???!!!" Yes, indeed they were, a novelty to us foreigners but just another day for Moroccan goats really as they climb up there to munch on the Argan nuts - crazy Moroccan goats. Anyhoo, Essaouira was super chill and a really fun place to be in, and also very picturesque, with their distinct blue fishing fleet, which I loved, and about a million feral cats roaming about which they treated liked gold to Teri's liking!!! People seriously went out of their way to ensure all of the stray cats were well fed, offering them huge portions of freshly caught fish scraps and bowls of milk in restaurants - awesome!! After that, we
had booked ourselves (from home) for a 3 night stay in a small surf/yoga retreat in a really quaint tiny village 60km to the south called Tafedna. We have been fooled before by glossy online photos of places, making it look amazing, but this place was the real deal, we fell in love - seriously one of those gems you stumble across that you will never forget! The place was called L'Ane Vert (french for the Green Donkey). I will let the photos do it justice, but picture if you will, the whole place to yourselves, and hence getting upgraded to the nicest room, super chill laid back vibe with flowing booze (which became increasingly difficult to find in muslim Morocco and took up a lot of our time tracking down, haha), the nicest secluded beach ever with huge sand dunes and camels and wild tortoises roaming around - it was friggin ridiculous! To make it better, our other friend Alicia arrived, b-lining it straight from the Marrakech airport. We just chilled and soaked it all in for 4 days!
From there we had to backtrack to Marrakech (killing another chill day in Essaouira) to catch up to our
tour to the Sahara desert, and also to meet up with Alicia's mother Sally. Now a group of 5, we spent one last night in the crazy smoke of Marrakech. As part of trip to the Sahara (which we will talk about in the next blog) we saw some absolutely insane scenery on the way there taking in another UNESCO heritage site, this time a kasbah called Ait Benhaddou, famous for being in tonnes of movies/TV like Gladiator, Babel, Game of Thrones, and others, as well as the crazy beauty of both the Dades and Todra gorges. Leaving from Marrakech, we climbed up and over the High Atlas mountains, reaching altitudes of 2300m, then descending into what felt like a scorched moonscape of the pre-Sahara flatlands. We spent that night in another killer spot called Boulmane Dades, it was one of those places that permanently burns it impression in your brain, wanting more! Boumane Dades was an oasis, with a lush river valley full of life, right in the middle of what seemed like an empty scorched wasteland - so that was an unexpected surprise for that night, and we got there and arrived to a sweet hotel, again to
ourselves, with one of the best views ever!
From there it was off to the Sahara desert...but you will have to wait for the next blog, because we have too many sweet photos to share, and more fun stories to pass along...
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