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Morocco: Ancient & New




Morocco: Ancient & New

The first thing you will notice, upon arriving in Morocco is the scent … Spices tempt the nose everywhere, Even in hotel rooms, public baths, the scents permeate the air. Going to an Islamic country can be educational, & Morocco has a well deserved reputation as both an exotic destination, and a gourmets delight. The people are friendly & used to foreign visitors, as tourism.is a huge industry there…so there are numerous day trips weekend trips to choose from, all within an easily affordable budget.

Climate

When people think if Morocco, they think sand, Sahara, You would be mostly wrong! Morocco is a lush green country, mostly, shielded from the worst ravages of the Sahara by the Atlas Mountains… Agricultural, anywhere from oranges, olives, & a variety of other exports… Livestock mainly consists of Chicken, Sheep, Goats, & few cattle. Further South Near the Spanish Sahara, The desert encroaches more…but the north is more Mediterranean than African… Good times to visit are early spring or early Autumn, as the summer heat can get excessive for non-natives.Also, anyone wanting a winter break, then this is a good location, although the nights can be cold…

Hotels

Moroccan hotels are clean & inexpensive, even budget accommodation has good standards & the food excellent. You can choose from 5 star or alternative, all the way to backpacker hostels. Even renting accommodation with local families, which I would recommend as it provides a far better insight into the culture & its people... As mentioned some get a culture shock upon arrival in this country, as the bigger cities are as modern as any in the west… Many western companies here… But a funny contrast… Morocco is both a blend of the modern & ancient… Example: At traffic lights you can find a young hotshot Moroccan businessman driving a Porsche, & beside him in the next lane, An old man, & his wife with a donkey & cart!🙂 Its quaint & beautiful. The balance of progress & old culture…

Cities

Tangier, Rabat (The Capitol) Casablanca, Marrakesh, Agadir Fes, are big cities We will deal with each in turn, Let me say Agadir is quite a distance from the other major cultural centers of the country, so going from.there to anywhere, involves hours of travel.

Tangier has a splendid old world French Colonial feel to it, the architecture mostly neoclassical 19th century France… Tangier is probably ideal, in you wish to sample Morocco's colonial past…

For me, I preferred the classic Islamic architecture of Marrakesh & Fez…

Rabat is a bustling Capitol city full of bazaars, also the seat of both The King & Government. You can tell Govt officials anywhere, They all wear Red Fez's!

Lots to do, many places to go, Rabat like many cities here could easily take up your entire vacation, with things & places to see…

Casablanca is a melting pot of cultures & people… There are huge Mosques, Christian Churches, Synagogues, other denominations Morocco is a very tolerant country so freedom. Of worship is widespread… I like "" Casa" as the local people call it. But one of my favorite places anywhere is Marrakesh…

I admit…I fell in love with Marrakesh, with the mighty Atlas Mountains towering above it… Marrakesh has a "Magical" quality to it, unlike any other… Hand woven rugs, in the Bazaars (Souk) which you will "haggle" with the store owner for,, Then when a "deal" is struck, You both will sit down & drink a glass of sweet mint tea, to celebrate the transaction. The bazaars there team with thousands of different items, clothing, Food, Spices, Chocolates, Rugs, Copper kitchen utensils normally expensive in the west, are handmade & a fraction of the cost from the Bazaars & much better made! The list is endless… The outside café's provide an opportunity to sit down & just soak in the atmosphere, Many will ask you where you come from & are interested in your country of origin, but always in a polite friendly way, never obtrusive… And they love it when you show a genuine interest in their lifestyle & culture…

The People

Visiting local people: Its considered "polite" when invited to a Moroccan home to bring Two gifts… Chocolate is a good one, The other I wouldn't have thought of, unless I had been told by local people…SALT! It's a traditional gift

So those are two good pointers to local etiquette…

Morocco has two main cultures of people

the"Moors" (Morocco) & the Berber people, The Berbers are easy to distinguish, as they are a light-skinned people… Berber women are rightly described as very beautiful… But in case anyone gets ideas…or a "Crush!" Berber men are very jealous! 😄 So beware. I was deeply honored during my time there to be offered as a gift a djellaba, which is a traditional hooded overcoat, Very expensive, which I sadly had to decline, as it's impractical for other cultures…

Berbers

The Berber people mainly come from the Atlas Mountains, a range roughly the length of Great Britain, with hidden valleys high pasture beautiful vistas, 13 Berber tribes speak 13 different languages in there.& in the "High Atlas" there are "Blood Feud towers" Which at times are still used.

Berbers are a warrior race…so sometimes their tempers explode… Then they stay in these "Towers" for safety… But it doesn't affect tourists or others…it's a purely internal Berber matter… Their main "crop" is "Hashish" AVOID!! , (We will get to that later!) Sometimes shipments are caught by the Moroccan police, but the volume is so huge, most get through, mainly to Europe… But to them it's just a centuries old crop for income. For the Moroccan authorities, almost impossible to control, given the size of the Alias Range…

There are many guided tourist trips to the Atlas… As a preference Morocco in early spring, when the snow caps have melted on the high peaks, is very beautiful place then.

You can add descendants of Phoenician & small minorities from other places…to complete the ethnic makeup.Also, a sizeable number of foreign nationals live there on a permanent basis…

Fez is a huge city which rivals Marrakesh as the No1 tourist spot in Morocco, Recommend visiting the Medina, centerpiece of the commercial district in Fes, As with Marrakesh Bazaar just about everything can be found there all at very affordable prices…

Food

The food in Morocco is extraordinary combined with already super Arabic cooking skills is a huge French influence in the dishes, Cooked in a "Tagine", a shallow earthenware cooking dish with a tall, conical lid which means the food is steamed & retains all its flavor.

Lamb, Mutton kebabs, Wonderful local fish, & much chicken add to couscous & freshly baked bread every day…are one of my many abiding memories from my months there… Add to that the fresh oranges chilled by the early morning, olives & sweet mint tea served piping hot. all add up to gourmetical pleasure.

Parties in Morocco can be quite amazing, It's not unusual to have at least 40 chickens, 3 Adult sheep, fish, couscous + loads of extra dishes at a party… No one can ever say they went away hungry…impossible!🙂

Skiing!

Yes you read it right! One of the things I always do, is ask local people anywhere, where THEY go, on vacation, in their own country…IFrane came the reply…!

High up in the eastern Atlas mountains is the town of Ifrane famous nationally as the skiing capitol of Morocco, That's right snow in the Sahara!.. Local people go there to enjoy winter sports… And the cold climate! Worth a visit for the sheer novelty value 🙂

Back at warm sunshine level, try to avoid going out too much in the sunshine, especially in December/January you can catch cold from the warm sun! I was warned about it, didn't listen and…got a COLD well deserved, from not listening!

Visiting the local Moroccan bath houses is an interesting experience…it gives an insight Into to local customs One of the people whom I became friends with there was the local Imam, a very learned intelligent man, who is a friend yet…

A funny anecdote: One thing you don't need in an Islamic country is an alarm clock… At 6am the Imam starts from one Minaret, calling people to prayer…in about a minute, every minaret in the city is calling So everyone & everything is wide awake 🙂


A word on greetings

In many instances the French style of greeting is observed between men (Kiss both cheeks) but not always, If your not sure an offered handshake is acceptable… With women a bow is traditional, for old ladies a kiss on the forehead…🙂

Travel is either on foot or by taxi ((Small Italian Fiat or Old Mercedes-Benz) I loved the "coachees" horse drawn taxis carrying maybe 8 people… For longer journeys its by rail, & Morocco has a good "on time" rail service. Infact I went in a 14 hr rail journey between Sidi Kacem & Marrakesh… I fell asleep & my 1st sight in early morning, was the Mighty Atlas towering over Marrakesh. I never forgot it!🙂 Sights like that make for great memories…

Dos & Don'ts

A guide to having a great vacation, there are some practical sensible "does & don't

that commonsense should tell us…

Please understand you are in a different country, with different beliefs & culture… Please remember that & respect both…!

Ladies : Wearing western clothing in the culture is acceptable, as locals are used to tourists, however a dress or skirt to the knee is enough… Anything more than that, especially outside the cities…may invite criticism… So be sensitive to local ways…

Don't start criticizing everything about the country either. Remember it's a very, very old culture, probably as old or older than the one you come from, & remember, The Moroccan people are just as proud of their Country, Culture & belief as you may be of yours!

Things To See & Do

Volubilis

Near the city of Menkes high on a mountain covering for passes, is the old Berber/Roman settlement of Volubilis. Expanded to 42 hectares under the Romans, It's not hard to see why the Roman Empire lasted so long. From this vantage point, you can see vast distances, so if an enemy was approaching, they could be seen a half days march away… Plenty of time to send for reinforcements

The ruins are marvelous, with the ghost of what it once was, still there to be seen, Originally intended as an olive grove & trade town, after expansion it became so much more.

Right on the very edge of the Roman world, It also was the Capitol of the old kingdom of Mauritania… Try going early in the morning or at sunset, as the shadows give good effect, & great for pictures…Also, when you're there try to visit one of the hilltop towns nearby Many of these have the past & culture of "Old Morocco" & an excellent chance to experience life as it may have been long ago.

Ballooning Air Ballooning

For around $200 per person you can take a hot air balloon ride over Marrakesh & the Atlas /Sahara with traditional Berber breakfast inc

Or a day trip into the desert by camel…just $32 per person

Alternatively Atlas Mountains & 5 valleys by camel from $75 per person…prices may vary so canvass… Most have a 6 or 7 hour cancellation time…

To sum up, If you enjoy new experiences, new ways & Old /New culture, then this is a vacation for you…as well as an introduction to different ways… Example: The ladies in the morning go & buy a sack of grain, they carry it home, sort out the grain, & by 1pm have fresh bread out on the table for lunch… Try local desserts they are very sweet but tasty, If you like cooking & some particular dish takes your fancy, local cooks are only too happy to show you how to cook it, but remember to buy a "Tagine" part of the unique flavor comes from cooking in these 🙂

Would I go back again? Of course! My three months there left me with many happy memories, & some good friends I have yet… Plus an ongoing "soft spot" for the country & its people, as well as expanded experience of the world in general…

Ivan


25 Avril 2022 14:48:02 0 Rapport Incorporer Suivre l’histoire
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Ivan Mullan CEO Pied Piper English Online

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