Saturday, June 14, 2014

Morocco - An Overview.

Hello! So the other day I got a text in my "Morocco with a dying man" group chat. And this was followed by a message from my ...


So the other day I got a text in my "Morocco with a dying man" group chat.

And this was followed by a message from my friend Jeanette.

Therefore, I have decided to blog about Morocco. You know, the parts which did not involve Sam, Titus and I being stranded in the mountains after our car got stuck in the mud. More than a year after my holiday to Morocco. Because I'm efficient like that.
Anyway, so here's the most common question that people ask me about Morocco - "Why Morocco?" Well, early last year, my good friend Titus and I had a conversation which went something like this...
Titus, "Jac, do you want to go to Morocco?" 
Jac, "Ok!"
I'm sorry if you were hoping for a better or more exciting answer. As you can tell, I'm very rational, level-headed and careful when it comes to making decisions. So in the middle of 2013, Sam, Titus and I went on a three week adventure to Morocco (I actually do not know why Sam went on a holiday to Morocco. I assume that Titus asked him the same thing and he replied accordingly).

So presenting....
Now that you know how I decided on going to Morocco on a holiday, I'd assume that your next thought would be "Actually I do not know anything about Morocco". Luckily for you, I have been there before and I can tell you some stuff about it.

Morocco is this very nice country in the continent of Africa. It's just below Spain and to the west of Algeria.
It's not really a place which immediately comes to mind when you're I don't know, shopping in Sephora or clubbing in Zouk. But just so you know, Morocco is somewhere that is quite prevalent even in popular culture.

Yves Saint Laurent Marrakesh Sunset Palette. (Marrakesh is a city in Morocco).
(Via The Notice).

(Via Beauty Dive).

Pitbull quite likes Morocco too, and mentions it in quite a few of his songs which you must have danced to in Zouk.

Brazil, MOROCCO.
London to Ibiza.
Straight to L.A. New York Vegas to Africa, dale!

Mr. Worldwide.
From Miami, MOROCCO, to Australia.
To the world.
But back to the topic. In Morocco, very few people speak English unless you are referring to the bigger cities like Marrakesh or Fes, where the locals in the markets or Souks are more used to seeing tourists around.
One of the many souks in Marrakesh.
Some snake charmers in Marrakesh.
Some metal workers in Place Seffarine (metal souk) within the Fes Medina.

And even so, their use of English is limited, so you're better off if you can speak in French - which is what most of them speak. Or you can speak in Arabic. Also works. See? We managed to make some friends!
You have to be careful though, not everyone is genuinely friendly, helpful and willing to give you shelter, food, and warmth for free like how Hamid, L, and Abdullah did for us. Nor are they all like the nice normadic elder who gave us directions after we got lost in the Toudra Gorge. Some of them try to like, con you to stay in like strange hotels. And they are fast. All you have to do is to look at a map, and like some random guy will pop up from out of NO WHERE and try to sell some accommodation to you.
And in the souks and medinas, there will always be "guides" who show you around their house where they manufacture Moroccan rugs and carpets. You can go in once or twice. The tour is quite entertaining and informative. You get to learn about the different types of rugs and carpets and also get to brush sheep wool.
Sometimes you also get to dress up as Berbers, aka the indigenous people of West Africa.
But mainly they will want to sell rugs to you and they can get rather pissy if you refuse to buy anything from there.*shrugs* We're backpackers, we have no money!  And where would we put a rug anyway? (Btw, those aren't valid excuses to not buy a rug as all rug merchants accept credit cards and do international shipping).
One thing you need to take note is that the population in Morocco is not very urban, for a lack of a better word. So they are not used to seeing Asians. So you will get "Konnichiwa!" shouted at you wherever you go. Followed by "Japon? Chinois? Korea? Arigato!!!!" It can get rather annoying after a while. I got so irritated after two weeks that I snapped at a man who popped up in front of me and started speaking to me in Japanese. Please, his Japanese was better than mine which is limited to brand names and types of sushi.

But you can take it in your stride.
So we were walking past this Moroccan dude who started shouting at us. He continued to shout as we continued walking away without stopping to entertain him.
Japan? No! China? No! Korea? No! Thailand? No! Pakistan? No! America? No! 
Morocco! No!
Yeah. It was funny. I did say that I would buy up an entire shop if anyone could guess that we were from Singapore on their first try. And Sam and Titus apparently heard someone who went "SINGAFURA" or Singapore in Arabic (سنغافورة) when they saw us and tried to make me buy up a whole shop. I don't believe them. You can never trust guys. They are very dodgy.
A little bit more about where we went. We went on a roadtrip and this was the route we took. (I just discovered how to properly use Google Maps and I'm so excited over this).

We did the trip in two legs, the first leg being a loop from Marrakesh, Aït Benhaddou, Skoura, Boumalne Dades, Tamtetoucht, Merzouga, Sahara Dessert, N'Kob, Ouarzazate, and then back to Marrakesh; and the second leg starting from Marrakesh, then on to Essaouira, Casablanca, Rabat, Moulay Idriss, Chefchaouen, and ending at Fes.
(Clockwise from top left: City skyline of Fes at night, a random alley in Chefchaouen, a woman and her donkey en route to Ouarzazate from N'Kob, camels in the Sahara, Jac in the middle of a road in Moulay Idriss, and four guys walking along the streets of Aït Oudinar).

Okay and I have to go meet my JC friends for dinner now so this concludes Part One of my Morocco trip. I will post up the next edition soon. I think. I hope. Till next time!

❤ Jac.

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