Morocco, part 1.5

This first week carried lots of adventure! From big roller coasters,

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to even bigger waves, it was so much fun!

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And we’re off! We started our big adventure early in the morning on Friday July 29th. We all got dressed and packed up our last minute things before getting driven to the airport by our nice grandparents!

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Our first stop was New York City. We had a pretty long layover so we decided to visit the Coney Island amusement park. We rode roller coasters, played games, and ate some world famous hot dogs. Some of us started on the Cyclone, a big roller coaster with lots of drops, twists and turns. After that Phoebe got splashed on a classic water log ride and Holly and Coco went head to head in a game where you have to shoot water into a hole until you fill the canister above it. Holly won and received a stuffed lollipop, which was later tossed into the ocean by Phoebe. By this time we were all hungry, so we stopped at the original Nathan’s hotdog store. Yum! We went on a few more rides, before heading back to the airport and boarding our next flight.

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Our next stop was Casablanca, Morocco, where we spent a day touring the city. We took a drive all through the city stopping at the mosque and a French café for lunch. After driving around a bit more we went to our hotel and relaxed in the pool. For dinner we visited a authentic Moroccan restaurant where everyone (except sleeping Phoebe) enjoyed their first tagine, which is a classic Moroccan dish. By that time we were all beat, so falling asleep was no problem.

 

The next morning we drove to Taghazout, where we checked into Surf Maroc, the surf camp where we would be staying for the next week. During the week we surfed, explored, and ate lots of DELICIOUS food! Everyday we would wake up early, eat a filling breakfast, and take a short drive to the surf. We had a great surf guide named Yussuf who helped the whole family catch waves and build cool sandcastles! We stayed at the beach until mid afternoon, but we weren’t always surfing. We also would have a picnic, go boogie-boarding, build sandcastles, and, last but not least, ride camels! There was also a beach in front of the Surf Maroc villa, and we spent most of our afternoon there. The (I can’t help but say amazing) dinner was started off by ‘dips’ where we had bread and special Moroccan dips. We then would move on to the main course which was usually a Moroccan dish. There was also a cute café next door called Café Mouja that had really good smoothies and French fries. Everyone went to bed early after the long day and had a good sleep in preparation for the upcoming day.

We’ve decided to post once a week, so see you next weekend, but until then, wish us luck!

Morocco, part 1

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Brendan