A developing country
10.09.2009 - 14.09.2009 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. It 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. 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 and visited a mountain village of clay huts. it 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.