As of this writing, we are over two weeks into our Moroccan travel. From Coney Island and JFK airport in NYC, we cruised in luxury to Casablanca, where we spent one night before heading off to the beach town of Taghazout. Our wise and capable driver Lahcen I (Lachen II will come later) remained stoic as Phoebe’s stomach christened his car with the first of our many cases of the Moroccan Tummy, and I assume he was thrilled to unload us in Taghazout for a week of surfing, which Holly expertly describes here.
A week of surfing in a place like Taghazout is never a bad thing, and we struggled to leave, but Lahcen the First did indeed collect us, as scheduled, for the drive into the Atlas Mountains and the town of Imlil. Along the way, we passed through a coastal range of bright red mountains with almost no sign of civilization, crossed insanely hot desert flats worthy of a Tatooinian(?) moisture farm, then headed into the mountains for Imlil.
Like Taghazout, Imlil was packed with Moroccon tourists. We were lucky, though, to be in the hands of another excellent Lahcen, who we’ll call Lahcen II. He got us out of town quick, to his home village of Armed (above), among other spots. Here’s a photo of Armed’s local soccer pitch, about 500 feet above town. If you look closely, you’ll see the field comes with its own goaltender, who is facing the wrong direction.
After three days of treks with Lahcen II (we’re not going to dwell on our further gastro-intestinal issues here), down the hill we went to furnace-like Marakesh. A quick visit with some camels (see photo at the top of this post), then to the train station for a surprise nine-hour ride to Fes. We had been told it would be six. Fes was well worth it, in particular its Medina, which is crazy and awesome and deserving of more Star Wars analogies.
We were told that Fes is the intellectual capital of Morocco, even of North Africa, as it features the oldest continually operating university in the world and over 350 mosques. Plus a million narrow paths like the one above and a couple of unofficial guides who took us under their wings pretty much against our will. Had a great time there but the chaos can wear on you and we were happy to move out to the countryside of Sefrou and Bahlil. Will report on that later in another post.
So far, so good. Some ups and downs. Great moments like playing cards on the roof in Imlil with a 360-degree mountain view. Or re-unting at dusk in Place R’Cif after the ladies had a stressful taxi ride home from their Hammam in Fes. Not-so-great moments include realizing that we never bothered to look at the timing of our departure flight to Portugal. Had to cut our final day in Morocco and we will be getting up at 2:45 AM on Friday as a result. Alex has been very generous in not pointing out that I should have caught that several months ago.
I’m happy to report that there’s plenty of excited talk about adventures to come and, with each day, less and less anxiety over whether this whole thing is a good idea. Stay tuned for more!