This past November a group of 14 Saskatchewan farm women visited Majestic Morocco to discover how they sustain themselves in this developing country. They were more than amazed as traveller Michelle Rea describes in detail in her daily blog to the folks back home.
Wow! What an AMAZING (I’m going to use this word a lot) trip!!!
Nov. 11: Casablanca – Zac, our French/Moroccan Guide and Abdoul, our chauffeur met us at the airport where we got our money and went to Rick’s Café and had a wonderful meal. Then we were off to the Hassan II Mosque. A really beautiful place and we learned about their religion and beliefs which we referred back to for the rest of the trip. Then off to the hotel. We had a couple of hours to relax which was nice. Zac took us on a little walking tour in the evening…he noticed something was going on. Everyone was celebrating, with the cars honking their horns and waving their flag. Zac said that Morocco was playing an important soccer game and they had scored a goal. So, we suggested going to a bar to watch the game and experience this excitement too. The hotel bar was packed, and what a great time we had! Morocco won 2-0 so at the end of the game everybody got up to dance and celebrate. We discovered Casablanca beer here…mmm.
Nov. 12: Pottery & Essouira – We had a nice walk on the beach in the morning near our hotel. It was Sunday, so there were about 5 soccer games happening there. Then off to do some pottery shopping in Safi. Pottery, pottery EVERY WHERE!!! The Moroccan people are the most generous, kind people anywhere in the world most of them speak English even though their official language is French. We went for lunch on the beach! The fish had their heads and eyes and teeth! But we powered through it. They gave us a couple of complimentary dishes, sea urchins and clams. The drive up the coast to Essouira was magnificent and humbling. To see what the land is like and where they are trying to grow crops! It was evening when we reached our hotel – what a magnificent place right on the ocean edge.
Nov. 13: Essouira – Went for a tour of the port with the fisherman. That way of life is so interesting to us prairie gals. We saw a shark and a sword fish come off a boat! Then we toured the old fort. And I learned something else about Morocco – no matter where you go for a “solution” (Zac’s word he used for bathroom), they were all incredibly clean! We decided we had had enough of fish so Zac and Abdoul found us a restaurant that served Italian food (spaghetti & bolognese). Then off to the woodworking shop – where of course, we shopped some more! I would have liked to have taken some big pieces home, but didn’t. Then we just spent some time walking around the markets and relaxed in the “party” room once more.
Nov. 14: We went to the Argan Oil Women’s Co-operative. What a great experience this was! It was very interesting how the work and the profits are divided evenly amongst the women. After that, we took a little detour from our agenda – Abdoul knew of a camel cheese place where we could have lunch (and assured us that there would be wine there too), we said of course! An older gentleman came out on his scooter and asked where we were from. When we said “Canada” he asked if any of us were “Habs” fans! When we said we were from Saskatchewan, he knew we were crazy Rider’s fans!!!! This gentleman had been a professor at a University in Ottawa for about 20 years! He was so pleased to have us there that he gave us 2 bottles of wine for our lunch. Considering that 16 of us showed up out of the blue, this was probably one of our best (if not the best) meals we had on our whole trip! Of course we also ordered many bottles of wine to go with our meal.
Nov. 15: Leaving Essouira and off to Imlil – Zac &/or Abdoul knew of a winery on the way so we stopped there and had a tour and of course some wine. After we had been driving for a while, we saw a truck that had an ice cream ad on the side of it, so of course, we needed ice cream. Abdoul to the rescue again! Found us a little place to load up on ice cream and snacks. Driving in the mountains is a little harrowing for us as many times throughout the trip people had to switch seats on the bus and gravel was enjoyed by all. What a quaint inn in Imlil. It had so much character and we loved the dining room with the fire. It was late when we got there and Abdoul really wanted to show us the sunset in the mountains, so we threw our luggage in our rooms and were off again. Abdoul is a very competent driver and got us to a beautiful spot to watch the sun sink in between the mountains. We also brought a couple of bottles of wine which we shared and Zac had some nuts for us to eat. Back down the mountain where we had supper.
Nov. 16: IMLIL - THE MOST AMAZING AND FREAKY DAY OF OUR TRIP!!! We met Abraham who was our guide for our trek up the mountain. Zac didn’t realize what sort of trail we were going to be walking on. It wasn’t physically hard but it was certainly mentally challenging for us! The trail was only about a foot wide and there was a sharp drop off down the mountain. Anyway, we all made it safe and sound. There was one little “shop” on our way up the mountain – I couldn’t believe it. So, of course, we had to stop and shop there. Ya know, everyone is so poor there and to spend a 100 or 200 dirhams is really nothing for us – we couldn’t just walk by a place like this and not spend some money there. Then we got to go to Abraham’s home and what a beautiful place it was. Abdoul showed us how to make mint tea and how to properly pour it. We helped prepare our meal. Abraham’s family was delightful and it really was the best day, being able to take part in the “real” Morocco. The trip down the mountain was way better for those of us who walked – on a different path than what we came up on. Some took a taxi down – they had quite an adventure. Drinks then another wonderful meal at the inn. After this day, we all agreed the camel riding would be a breeze.