Hey y’all! How was your spring break? Oh…you haven’t had it yet? Unfortunate…I suppose I’ll just have to tell you about mine:
We got up soooo early 😦 We walked out to the bus stop, only to realize it was the wrong stop(Tottenham Court), so we walked up to the Goodge Street Stop, which wasn’t right either. Eventually we found the right stop, but we LITERALLY JUST MISSED THE BUS. It pulled away as we walked up. Then, it turned out that not only did I not have enough money on my oyster card to ride the bus, I also had no cash to buy a ticket. Thankfully, Ashley helped me out with that, and we made it to the airport in Marrakesh without further incident…until we got to the border and were told that we weren’t handed disembarquement forms from the airline like you normally should be.ugh. Well we made it out to go look for our airport pickup that we had arranged for and switched our money over in the meantime(Morocco controls its currency like crazy. You can’t take any money out of the country, and you have no way of getting it until you’re in the country.) An hour later, we’d given up on being picked up, so we paid 200 dirhams (~$25) for a cab to the address that I’d thankfully written down because the hostel had no listed phone number. He dropped us off really close to where we needed to be, and then asked for one of the guys who was sitting around to take us the rest of the way since he spoke English and our driver only spoke french(this was a reoccurring theme…) The guy guided us down one street and then an alley before we reached the door, then he turned to us and said, “Now, something for me,” as he held his hand out. We asked how much he wanted and then searched for coins to get to the 5 dirham that he wanted. We just started handing him coins (one of which was a British penny, mistakenly. He handed it back to me and yelled “This is NOTHING!” when, ironically, a british penny would probably get him almost a whole dirham…just sayin) Finally, he left us alone, but we were fully shaken at this point and just wanted to relax. We decided to spend our day in the hot tub that our hostel promised online, since we’d read sketchy reviews of hammams/spas in the area. Well…not only did they not end up having a hot tub(we found this out after much hilarity ensued from me trying to describe in Spanish as well as draw, what exactly a hot tub IS), but the guy who spoke English spoke semi-broken English, and asked if we knew any other languages to speak in, hence my speaking in broken Spanglish. We ventured into the main square for lunch and exploring. For lunch, we went to this Italian cafe called Cafe Aqua that had a menu we could actually read, as opposed to other places. I got pizza, and Ashley got traditional Moroccan Couscous. After, we went to this shop on the far end of the Souk/Marketplace in the square and ended up trying on clothes, scarves, and slippers for a good 30 minutes with the owner. Eventually, we both bought stuff, although we realized later that we should’ve haggled with him instead of accepting his first figure. As we walked away, we got pulled in by a guy in the next store, and I ended up buying a dress from him. However, this wasn’t good enough and he took us to his family’s spice shop all the way across the market next. We managed to get away without buying anything, but as we walked more, some sweet ladies came up and offered us henna tatoos, we both nicely said no and kept walking, but the lady followed. Then, out of nowhere, she pulls out this syringe and starts drawing on my hand, then promises to do the rest for free if I come sit down because I’m such a nice, pretty girl (that’s what they say to lure you in…) So they put designs all over my hand and Ashley’s hand and then when they’re done, they ask for payment. They SAY that since I’m so nice, they’ll give me a discount. How much, you ask? I asked the same thing! The response? 600 DIRHAM. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is over $75 for some crap design on my hand that I didn’t even want. They proceeded to look into our wallets as we pulled money out, and told us how the amounts we were giving them were NOTHING. I’m ashamed to say that they got 170 dirham from me before I started yelling at her about how I’d have never sat down if I knew it would cost that much and I HAD TO EAT THE REST OF THE WEEK. They finally let us go, and we booked it back to the hostel where we decided we would go out, get dinner, and come straight back here to chill on the terrace. Where did we choose to dine, you ask? Why at the extremely Moroccan establishment of…Kentucky Fried Chicken. So my first day was a complete bust in terms of Moroccan food 🙂 When we got back to the terrace, people were up there and oh thank goodness: they were speaking english! That’s how we met Jeanine and Brandon (and later Courtney and Patrick who we ended up sharing a room with). Oh yeah, this is also when my phone stopped working and I realized I’d have to get a new sim card from Morocco if I wanted to talk to anyone ever again…and at this point I wanted nothing more than English speaking contact with the 1st world as opposed to the 2nd/3rd world that we’d stepped into.
After letting the group back in the night before and having Mint Tea with them on the terrace, Ashley and I woke up to Courtney and Patrick exclaiming that it was 10:40 and they were sleeping the day away! This was perfect for us, though, because Kathryn and Grace’s flight wasn’t supposed to get in until 10:20, and they had to get a taxi and all that jazz…It was at this moment that I realized I hadn’t given Kathryn my new number for the Moroccan sim card. I got her number off my other sim card and texted her that I’d come get them so they wouldn’t have to get a guide after they got out of the taxi, since I was expecting them to be dropped off at the same place we were. When they texted me, I practically ran out of the hostel to go find them, wearing the dress the I’d planned to wear, only now I had the new realization that this sleeveless dress might be a tad short for my tastes, much less that of an Arab/Muslim nation. Oh well! I’d only be out for a few minutes! But no…They hadn’t been dropped off where we had, so I went into the main square, and I texted them to meet me by the Cafe du France. Instead, they said they were by a blue phone, which I saw, so I tried to meet them out there, but after 5 minutes of cat-calling by Arab men and the realization that not only was my phone dead, but I had left my money at the hostel so I didn’t get accosted by Vicious Henna Ladies or shopkeepers, I headed back to the hostel to pout that I now had nothing to wear for 2 of the days, since my wardrobe included the dress I was wearing in black and the same in navy blue. This was when I was encouraged to wear my new purple grecian-inspired dress from the marketplace. Thankfully, as I wandered out of the hostel to buy more phone credit, I ran straight into Grace and Kathryn, and the 4 of us spent time chilling out on the terrace before exploring the marketplace some. We went all over and got lots of interesting comments on my dress, mostly “fatima” which we assumed meant beautiful (note: we actually still don’t know what it is, as I can’t google translate it ) Other comments included “fish and chips” because he assumed we were British, and an eager shopkeeper informing us that it was legal in Morocco to have 4 wives(to which we turned to each other and started talking about being sister wives)! On our trip through the markets to find the stores in the back with the lower prices, we got kinda lost, but thankfully found our way out! We went back to the hostel and stayed there for dinner of couscous and spaghetti!
Today I just decided to wear the same dress that I’d worn Monday. It was a black, long-sleeved dress that cut down a little in the front(but not too much!) and hit about my knees. This dress, as opposed to Tuesday’s options, didn’t earn me comments like “Princess” or “Nice Girl”(which I’m guessing doesn’t mean the same as nice in the States…just saying, the intonation was VERY different). Nope, this dress earned me comments like “WHERE ARE YOUR TROUSERS!?!” Sorry, bro, I suppose I forgot them this morning! Anyway, our day was once more spent in the market and on the terrace. We tried to find a palace later on in the day, and one of the Moroccan Police Officers tried to explain the map and the directions to us, but he only spoke broken English, and preferred to explain it to us in French…which none of us spoke fluently. Eventually, we found the palace, but we had to walk through this sketch area to get there, only to find out it had closed about the same time that we’d set off looking for it! Then, a nice Berber woman came over to us and offered to take us some place, but not as a guide. This is good, because “guides” typically pester you for money after they lead you somewhere, and they can get commission off anything you buy while with them, which will make your prices higher. Anyway, she took us to this “pharmacie”/spice shop/oils and scrubs shop that was pretty cool, and we got a demonstration of all these different cosmetics, oils, scrubs, and remedies! So it wasn’t a total bust heading back there that late. For dinner, we took Grace and Kathryn to Cafe Aqua for pizza and chicken!
Thursday was the only day that we had a plan of attack. I finally chose an outfit that appeased the Moroccan people by wearing a black top that I’d bought the first day with my black yoga pants, and minimal comments were made! Success! We got up and went straight to the Palace, with a pit stop at the spa that we’d found to plan our treatments for later on that day. Once we got to the Palace, we went in and saw the Royal tombs where servants are buried outside and there are inside rooms where kings are buried. After the tombs, we went to Cafe Aqua for a light lunch of Nutella/Banana Crepes and Carrot Juice (Kathryn and Ashley) or Nutella/Banana Crepes with Coconut King Mocktails (Grace and me). We spent a little bit of time in the outdoor market area, and I bought another dress (from a man who offered Grace 1000 camels for me! Why he thought Grce owned me is still a mystery to both of us, but she responded that she hadn’t a need for camels right now, so she’d just have to keep me!), but we quickly went back to the hostel for some terrace-time in the sun. Of course, this was a shock to my pasty white skin that is so used to the small peak of sunshine that happens every so often in London…I ended up with a nasty, apple-red sunburn (on one side, especially) after sitting out for a few hours. Because of this, I took a hot shower(to kill some of the heat of the burn) and opted out of going back to the market with the other 3 before our spa date. We got to the spa right around 5:30 when our reservation had been, and were quickly whisked away in a flurry of French and Arabic with minimal English! Everyone had a 30 min massage, Kathryn and I had 30 min facials, and Grace/Ashley/I had manicures. The massages were out of this world(if a little strange at certain points), but the facials ended up being the girl pouring warm oil on my face and massaging it in…The point of paying for the facial was to try and stop my skin from breaking out, not encourage it to break out! But I digress… Eventually we made it back to discover that the couple whom we’d shared a room the first night had not, in fact, been gone for two nights, but rather they were back for that last night with us, and the power was out, so no showering to get the oil that she’d rubbed in my hair out. We proceeded to venture into the tents that get set up in the square every night for food. The first guy literally got in Grace’s face and wouldn’t step out of her way until she listened to his offerings. Other people yelled things like “LADY GAGA!” or “FISH AND CHIPS!” at us, and when Ashley told one of the guys “No” he responded with “S**t for you!” I swear, these tent vendors were worse than the shopkeepers! Finally, we were headed to this little cafe when we were pulled aside by a last vendor (who went to Kathryn, not Grace who was understandably quite angry at this point) we ended up eating at that place, and it was alright. On the way back, we stopped to get Ashley one last glass of Orange Juice from the street vendors, and Kathryn decided to get Jus du Citron, or what we thought would be lemonade…except there ended up being no water…just the pulp-y juice mixed with some sugar hahah that was an interesting drink.
And that’s Morocco!