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Published: March 25th 2019
By all means, trust in Allah, but tie your camel first… ~ Moroccan Proverb
A while ago, the lure of tagines, mint tea and medinas led us to set our travel sights on Morocco. However, for various reasons it never eventuated. We came very very close last year, but our travel window slipped into June, by which time it was Ramadan and the heat would have been quite intense in the south of the country… so we reluctantly gave up that plan, again.
We were fixed in our focus on making the trip this year… and we are finnnally, at long last, for reals, actually going to be in Morocco next week! However, first we have a short side trip to London. 😊
London is a firm favourite of ours, and we are very excited to be visiting Ren’s sister and family, and to be doing Londony things again. The last time we were in London was 2012, so our wish list of things we’d like to see and do has grown quite long in that time. Unsurprisingly, they are mostly art and food related!
Very interestingly, we seem to have timed our visit to London at the height of Brexit anxiety, with Britain supposedly leaving the EU
on 29th March if an extension isn’t granted. There is talk of the military being on standby, and of the country running out of toilet paper… Ren isn’t sure which one of these is worse. We’ll keep you informed 😄
Given this is our first trip to Morocco, our wish list of the experiences we’d like to have in this enigmatic and unique country is very long and varied! It will also be Andrew’s first time in Africa, and Ren’s first trip back since 1989 (when she used to call West Africa home)… so there are all sorts of excitements and joys about this.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the Kingdom of Morocco: It’s a constitutional monarchy under King Mohammad VI. The population is just over 33 million, the capital is Rabat, the currency is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD) and the main languages spoken are Moroccan Arabic (Darija), various Berber (Amazigh) dialects and French. The population is 99% Muslim and made up of Berbers, Arabs and a small group of Gnaoua (descendants of freed West African slaves who were transported through the port in Essaouira).
The country sits on the far northwestern corner of North Africa and
shares borders with Algeria and Mauritania (and Spain via the Strait of Gibraltar). When a country is littered with mountain ranges, it follows that it would also be packed with gorges, canyons, mountain passes and valleys. Our travels should have us driving through or hiking in many of these impossibly picturesque areas – especially when we visit the Rif Mountains on the northern edge, and the Atlas Range in the central and south-western part of the country. The south-eastern region of the country is blanketed by the Sahara Desert (the world's third largest desert), and on the other end of the scale, Morocco has vast stretches of Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines to the west and north. The country is also filled with UNESCO Heritage sites, vibrant medinas and souks, old world kasbahs, majestic gardens and nature-defying palmeries.
We know very little about Moroccan culture, traditions and food, but what little we know of it, we love. And we are especially very very very excited about the food and being exposed to new local dishes. So we are venturing forth armed with big appetites, and we have ensured that stretchy pants have been packed. 😉
Packing for this trip
has been a challenge. First we’ll be contending with erratic spring conditions in London, and then we’ll be trying to predict vastly different weather conditions as we traverse the entire length and width of Morocco. Morocco is popularly described as a cold country with a hot sun, and to me that means layers of clothing that can be added or taken off… while being mindful that it’s a very conservative country – so no shoulders, chest or knees on display.
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Tomorrow we will be engaging in the act of ‘travelling’… that most exhilarating and addictive of feelings!
Ren and Andrew Films that set the scene for this trip... Casablanca
, directed by Michael Curtiz (1942); The Sheltering Sky
, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci (1990); Mille Mois (A Thousand Months)
, directed by Faouzi Bensaidi (2003); Rock the Casbah
, directed by Laila Marrakchi (2013). Travel reading on this trip... Lonely Planet Guide Morocco
; Travels, collected writings from 1953 - 93
by Paul Bowles (Andrew); The Sheltering Sky
by Paul Bowles (Ren); Hope & Other Dangerous Pursuits
by Laila Lalami (Ren).
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