John and I declined the overnight bus from Fes to Rissani, the night in the desert bivouac and the overnight bus to Marrakech. Instead, we stayed a little longer than the average tourist and had four nights in the desert moving on after every two nights, and one night in a lovely town called Quarzazate. Here many Hollywood films have been shot on location, as it really resembles the desert southwest in the US.
The buildings are waddle and daub and are of Berber design dating back hundreds and hundreds of years and beyond. They are embellished with Berber patterns that are shockingly closely related to the designs of the Native American Indians. They look like adobes that come straight out of Taos, New Mexico.
Moroccan Climate and Food
The terrain of Morocco is vast. It is lush and green along the coast. Four mountain ranges cut through it, with the Sahara Desert to the south of the stunning Atlas Mountains. Driving over this mountain range is a constant marvel with desert and snow, palm and pine. The Draa Valley that runs through it splashes 200 kilometers of palm trees. If you are a fan of palm trees, this is one place not to be missed while in Morocco.
There are dozens and dozens of different varieties of dates, too. The softest, largest, chunkiest kind is not cheap, either, coming in at €15 a kilo. Venders will not haggle the price, not wanting to let go of these much cheaper. Something else that is not cheap should you wish to give it a sample is raw camel milk.
Mixed with a teaspoon of date syrup, this milk is a smooth and creamy morning delicacy that I wish I could have every day!
We ate plenty of tajine dishes, as well as couscous. Some were spicier than I would have wanted. Somewhere along the way my husband picked up a tummy bug that plagued him on and off. It could have been from the uncooked piece of chicken that was still frozen in the middle as it lay in the tajine! Nasty!
Culture Shock in Morocco
Spending time in Morocco is intense and the culture shock could be immense. It needs to be sampled in small doses. Every single tourist we came across was ready to go home after five days. The hustling makes one tired and weary. The people are lovely, if only they would stop the harassment of its visitors. Being helpful is welcome, but being cheated is altogether different. Then there is this issue they have with entitlement. We, the tourist, should be willing to pay more, for we are rich.
Why not spend €30 on a liter of camel milk?
The other downside of travel in Morocco is the roadside trash. Colored plastic bags riddle the countryside. How do they all get there?
The people are gentle-natured, over all, and are eager to see a friendly smile. The women are still oppressed and uneducated outside of the big cities. I wasn’t really sure, as a woman, if I should be making eye contact or greeting the male vendors or male passers-by.
Dress for Respect in Morocco
Out of respect, I did manage to keep my head, shoulders and knees covered during my adventures. I managed to stay on top of my camel, too, which was dragged off by the lead camel into the desert once my husband dismounted him. It was a scary moment, as I feared I was going to be dragged by a camel and lead into Algeria, which was in sight and just 30 kilometers away.
If you are looking into a trip to Morocco and want an adventure like mine, contact me. I can give you the details of riad and travel planner Abdul who will not cheat you and do his best to take care of you. He will certainly do you right, though those he hires might not do exactly as they’re told as they try to make a bit of money on the side along the way. Fair enough. It adds to the adventure.
If you enjoyed this article and have an interest in Morocco, watch this space. I am writing a novel about my recent travel experience in Africa. It promises to be interesting! Going to Morocco is a journey, not a vacation…
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author of 20 books and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet including over 1500 articles as a featured writer for Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…