A Travellerspoint blog

Morocco

A developing country

sunny 90 °F

On Thursday we arrived in Casablanca. First, we went on a bus tour of the city. Our guide was extremely nice. She taught us how to ululate. First she took us to a modern church. It was extremely dark and they had amazing stain glass windows. They covered almost all of the side walls. Next, we went to a huge mosque. 100_2121.jpgIt was the third biggest in the world! You could see the rugs that they would pray on, and they had all those Muslim arches like always. The women had to cover their heads when they walked in. It is pretty cool because we are there in the month of Ramadan. We had to rush our tour of the place a little because the call to the prayer was going to happen pretty soon, and we had to get out. The coolest part about the mosque was that at night, they put out a laser that was pointing east so that they knew which way to pray (toward Mecca) and we could see it from the Ship. We left the mosque, and went to the market. We walked around the market occasionally seeing kind of gross things like a cow getting chopped apart and carried away. Let’s just say that when we left, none of us had much of an appetite.
On Friday we woke up at six thirty to catch an early bus to Marrakesh. Our guides name was Hisham, and he was a Moroccan man. We rode on the bus through plains, then the ground turned hilly, and when there were mountains, we were in Marrakesh. The first thing we went to was a garden that was mostly cactuses.100_2139.jpg Eli, who goes to Arizona a few times a year, knew every single kind of cactus, and pointed them out to us. After we left the garden, we went to the Bahia Palace. It was very big and had tons of Moorish architecture. It had many fountains and courtyards and fountains in courtyards. When we left we next had lunch at a Moroccan restaurant. We had been warned not to drink water, uncooked food, and fresh fruits and vegetables for fear of contamination, so we had a bit of a problem when they gave us cups of water, vegetables, and dips, and fresh fruit. Luckily they also served chicken, which I believe is usually cooked, so we did get some lunch.
Next, we went to Djeema el Fna square, a market square. First, while walking through the market, we all almost got hit by at least one motorcycle, in my case, three. Next, while trying to dodge the motorcycles a man with a monkey on a leash kept holding out the monkeys hand and trying to get it to touch us so that we would pay him for touching his monkey. Then while trying to dodge motorcycles and monkeys a snake charmer put a snake around his neck. By that time we decided that we had had enough, and left. At night we had dinner at some place that we were supposed to be at. It was actually a horse fantasia, and it was the most fake thing I have ever seen. It was basically Moroccan people trying to show to American tourists what they thought we wanted to see. To give you an idea, they showed a caravan of people with horses walking across the stadium. Then, a person sitting on a carpet that had two huge visible lines going across two houses on something moving about .05 miles per hour. Then later, they began to play star wars music. I think you get the idea. We all thought that was pretty funny.
On Saturday, we went to the Ourika valley which was a few huge mountains. It was actually really cool. Our bus of about forty people was being chased by motorcycles with things to sell us at every stop we took. They would keep following you and they would not give in until you bought something. We hiked up a mountain 100_2155.jpg and visited a mountain village of clay huts. 100_2168.jpgit was not modern at all; they did not have running water, or any electricity. They had a mixed reaction. The first little boy we saw was probably about two, and he tried to throw rocks at us. The other older boys tried to get money from us by begging. When we left, we finally went back to Casablanca.
On Sunday we Skyped backed to Eli’s parents for a while and then went and visited a few stores. Then, we went and had dinner with a Moroccan family. We gave them a tour of our and went and had dinner in their house. It was a good experience to meet these people from another culture and talk to them. They had fasted the whole day, so it was a huge feast. There were pastries and dates and pizza and soup and cake and pies and everything that you could imagine. Our hosts ate almost all of it.
On Monday, we had our first free day the whole trip, because usually, we either have school or we are doing things in the port, so it felt great to finally have a day off. But even then, you couldn’t sleep too late because they put away breakfast at eight thirty, and then you have to either beg the workers to give you food or just wait for the earliest part of lunch which is eleven thirty. It felt great doing nothing.
I thought that Morocco was pretty good. The traffic was way worse than in Spain, which is pretty hard to beat, and the people trying to sell to you were more aggressive than I ever have seen, but that is just because it is a developing country. I think that it will not be nearly as bad as a lot of other countries that we will go to. I think that the culture was pretty nice, but I think I liked Spain a little more.
We are headed for Accra, Ghana.

Posted by GabrielRR 07:46 Archived in Morocco Tagged boating Comments (0)

Spain

Cadiz, Seville, Cordoba, and Granada

sunny 95 °F

Saturday the fifth we arrived at Cadiz. We got there at seven o’ clock in the morning, and we went out to tour around nine thirty. We walked around the city and stopped at churches and all kinds of old things. The best part was climbing a tower that you could see the whole city of Cadiz from. It was a tall winding staircase and every ten or so steps we got to a room that showed something about Cadiz. On one of the floors, there was a huge bowl that was positioned under a skylight that had something that could cover it. A lady pulled a lever and all of the sunlight streamed in and it projected the view of the whole city onto the bowl (using mirrors and light and stuff). By pulling levers the lady could show us different parts of the city. She also zoomed in on the streets and made it look liked the cars and people were walking over ramps by putting a folded piece of paper on the bowl. We didn’t stay in Cadiz for too long as we had to wake up at six thirty to catch a bus to Seville.

The bus ride to Seville was not too long, but it was a good two hours before we got there. We went to this gigantic cathedral that was the third largest in the world. We walked around it with a guide. It was amazing how massive it was. It was about ten times my temple at home. It also had the grave of Christopher Columbus. The guide told us that he had been buried in five different places, the last one being the Dominican Republic. Recently, the scientists did a DNA test and found that the remains actually were in the church in Seville. We left for Cordoba in the afternoon.

In Cordoba we first went to the main square in the city. Since it is so hot there, there are fountains for kids to run through. There was a statue of a man on a horse. He had a copper body and a marble head. The legend was that the reason that he had a white head was because of the birds pooping on his head. We went to another gigantic cathedral except this one was different. It was a Mosque with a cathedral built over it. It was very strange to see Islamic designs with pictures of Jesus. It had Muslim arches and Christian alters. Also they had found a Visigoth church underneath of the building. It was incredible. At around five o clock, we packed our bags and headed for Granada.

In Granada, we went to the Alhambra. The Alhambra is a Sultan’s (Arabic king) palace. It was covered with amazing Muslim designs. They had all used to be amazingly colored, but now they are faded. They windows used to be stained glass, but now they are bare. On the lighter side, we walked around the astounding structure and looked at all of the features such as a gigantic reflecting pool that temporarily blinded anyone who walked by because it was so bright. We saw the Sultan’s bedroom with a fountain in the middle of it, and a gigantic dome in the top. The palace had multiple courtyards in it and tons of amazing gardens. The gardens had every kind of plant you could imagine including fig and pomegranate trees. After we finished in Granada, we took a four hour bus ride back to the ship and that is where we are now.

All in all, I liked the Spanish people. Even though I noticed that the drivers and the people that were crossing the road did not look for people or other cars, that is pretty much the only thing that I noticed that was negative. They had great food, great architecture, and great souvenirs.

We’re headed for Morocco.

Posted by GabrielRR 08:41 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Arriving in Halifax

semi-overcast 25 °F
View Semester at Sea on GabrielRR's travel map.

Last night, we were playing kick ball on the basketball court. When I was kicking, I kicked the ball right through a hole in the net, into the ocean. They staff is working on fixing that hole. Today, we arrived at Halifax at eight o’clock in the morning. When we stopped, all the birds and moths and other animals that accidentally rode with us from Virginia to Halifax got off the ship in Canada. It feels good not to need sea legs to walk in a straight line anymore. Later today, we will probably get off of the ship, and see Halifax. In the harbor that we are in, there are ducks swimming around in the water. The weather is incredibly sunny, but it is cold enough that we are all wearing sweatshirts. Today is the day that the college students’ parents are boarding and touring. Tomorrow the college students are boarding, and at night, we leave for Spain, and we get there in seven days. That is one of the longest stretches between ports in the whole trip. The longest is eleven days between Kobe and Honolulu at the very end of our trip.

Posted by GabrielRR 06:39 Archived in USA Tagged cruises Comments (1)

Heading to Halifax

sunny 75 °F

Today, we moved into a new time zone, and so we had to move up the clock one hour. We are still on our way going to Halifax, Canada to pick up the college students. We are supposed to get there on Friday. We are near New York, and going about eighteen knots. The waves have been getting bigger and bigger, and the temperature has been getting colder and colder as we head towards Canada.
Now, the boat really tilts and rocks with every wave. Yesterday we saw a water spout which is a tornado coming out of the water. It is not a funnel in the water like I expected. It is just a tornado with a bottom that just happens to be in the water.
Last night Eli Cyrus and I played a pickup basketball game with the ship doctor and nurse, who are brother and sister. The basketball court is outdoors with one side facing the wall, and one that would just be the sea but there is a net there that stops any basketballs from getting out.
The staff here is incredibly nice. They are mostly Pilipino, and they are even nicer to kids. Some of my favorite ones are Ismael, Perry, and Marty. Also they are the ones that are the nicest.
Our room does not have any windows, so when we woke up at eight, we thought it was around four in the morning, so we slept late both of the two nights.

Posted by GabrielRR 06:38 Archived in USA Tagged cruises Comments (0)

First day

sunny 80 °F
View Semester at Sea on GabrielRR's travel map.

Yesterday, we boarded the semester at sea ship, the MV Explorer. Cyrus, my cousin; Eli, and I boarded the ship at twelve thirty. We showed Eli’s parents around because Eli is staying with us on the four month long journey. We three kids are staying in a room with two beds, and one cot. We have to wear a key around our neck. The key is a card that we swipe in a slot in the door. The ship pulled out at eleven o’clock and we watched it come out of the harbor. It did not really start to sway until we were asleep, so when we woke up it was a little bit of a shock. But none of us have gotten seasick yet.
On the ship there is an internet connection (which is how we do the blog of course) but it is very slow. Each person has to have an internet account to use the Semester at sea’s internet. We have not been given our internet codes yet, but we may be given them as soon as later today. On the television, there are six channels. One of them shows where you are in the water, and how many knots you are going.
The ship’s next stop is Halifax, Canada to pick up the college students, and our first real stop for the trip is Cadiz, Spain.

There is a basketball court on the top deck of the boat, and Eli, Cyrus, and I have so far been only throwing the baseball, since the basketball hoops have not been set up yet. Eli Cyrus and I have class together. Obviously, most of the time we have to of split up our lessons since our ages range from eight to thirteen. Every day that we are on board, we have school.

Posted by GabrielRR 06:36 Archived in USA Tagged cruises Comments (0)

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