Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Morocco: day 1
When Matt and I went on our honeymoon the most reoccurring question was "Where the heck do people who live in Paris go on vacation?" Contrary to popular belief, there are actually things other than lovestruck couples and top models that live in Paris. And occaisionally even Parisians need to get away from the city for some good ol' R&R. The answer: Morocco. And that, my friends, is where we went recently to escape the daily grind of smooching pairs and French fashionistas.
Our adventure began in the best way possible: complicated. In order to get to the airport to
catch our 6:30 am flight (yikes!) we had to be at check-in no later than 5:20 am. Which also happens to be about when the first metro starts up. Too early to get on the metro and too stingy to catch a cab from Paris, we decided to book a hotel room at the Formule 1 next to the airport. We quickly found out why the prices were so dirt cheap... enter happy public bathroom/shower signs...
Yes, we got to share a bathroom and shower with the rest of the hotel and some very quirky bathroom door people. Just to document the happy experience I snapped a couple shots of our deluxe hotel experience:
The rooms themselves weren't that bad, more like a simplified dorm room. Of course, we were slightly concerned when we read online that they only had bunk bed rooms available still, but somehow we managed to luck out and get a room for three (one bunk bed and one double bed underneath). After a good 4 hours of sleep we rolled out the door and got our ride over to the airport.
It wasn't hard to tell who had EasyJet tickets to Morocco--it turns out it was the only plane crazy enough to take off so butt-early in the morning. So we stumbled into line with all the other poor souls and waited to check-in. Somewhere between excited and half-asleep, I was only able to partially appreciate the drama when someone in line forgot one of their suitcases. The airline worker, looking a little cranky to be up without coffee started barking off announcements that whoever had left it had better come get it quick before it got confiscated by airport security. Whoever it had been was apparently un-phased by her early morning threats and there it stayed. Soon it was surrounded by a fenced-in barrier. Just about the time I started wondering what good a little fence would do should a bomb explode, a guy casually walked up and grabbed it, ending our morning entertainment.
3 1/2 hours and one serious I hate-kids-in-airplanes headache later, we were on Moroccan soil. My first exposure to so many woman in veils, I tried not to stare too openly. I wasn't quite sure what to do with the Moroccan lady working in the airport bathroom who just looked at me like I was supposed to give her money or something for daring to enter her public restrooms. Outside the airport I knew I couldn't be in Kansas anymore since at 8am it was already well into the high 80s (30 degrees Celsius) with blue skies and swaying palm trees. (note our first yay we're in Morocco! pic to the left)
After getting picked up at the airport by my bro-in-law, Isaac, we were off heading towards downtown Casablanca. I gotta say, it was quite the experience. It's not everyday in France that you see motorbikes (and I do mean bikes!), donkey-drawn wagons, and cows using the same motorway space. While warned about Moroccan driving, I was unprepared for the pedestrians that would just wander casually out onto the highway to cross the road. I'm not sure how many times I pushed down on that imaginary break on the passenger's side....
Once at Anne (Matt's sister) and Isaac's place the fun began... We knew anyplace that had 3/4
of the living room walls covered in couches had to be a quality place.
Matt, feeling his North African seductive side coming out just had to get a pose on the couch (or should I say couches?). Yes, I married a cool guy. A quick tour of the neighborhood quickly revealed some very fascinating revelations.... For instance, snails are aplenty in Morocco...
...And livestock as well... Note the cow in the empty lot next
to Anne and Isaac's and the sheep that I apparently
disturbed during mid-morning snack on the side of the
Our morning expedition also turned up a seaside cafe/restaurant to which me and Matt were instantly thrilled. Deciding to grab some food there, we sat down for our first Moroccan culinary experience. Rule number one when dining in Morocco is that most likely there will only be half of the items listed on the menu actually in the kitchen. (a bit of a letdown for me because I was really looking forward to trying one of the many random juice combos that they had listed--after all, have you tasted avocado juice?)
Rule number two is beware of all that plentiful wildlife. Enter my friend the beetle.
I first met him when I felt a slight itch going on on top of my head. Thinking I was going crazy I started scratching my head wondering if there was something in the air that would make my head feel like it had a life of its own. When I felt the lump in my hair I knew it couldn't be the air and out came this little...well, big fella. Cute, isn't he? Turns out he's a flying beetle and decided to get rather intimate with my hair over lunch. Momentary crisis averted, I couldn't help wondering if he wouldn't come back to my hair, and for the rest of lunch I had visions of beetle eggs and began a 15 second hair pat down routine just to make sure that he had taken my rejection seriously.
Rule number three: speak Arabic together so that the local cats don't know you're tourists.
Case in point, our little mangy feline friend here. Did she go up to any other table to beg for scraps? Oh no, her tourist sense was in full drive and thus we ended up with an adopted pet...who wouldn't stop meowing at us the entire meal. I know that she had tourist radar, because the minute our waiter approached she started hissing and he responded by a good threatening swing (leading me to believe that they've had this type of discussion before). Unfortunately it wasn't long before our new friend was back again and meowing all the louder. Well, it also wasn't long before our waiter was back and this time there was more hissing and more chasing, until the guy had chased the thing off the entire restaurant grounds. 5 minutes later and this time Matt feels sorry enough for the little hairy thing that he throws her some of his roll to ward off starvation. Well, apparently starving cats these days are on the picky side and it just shut her up for a mere 30 seconds until she discovered it was bread and not meat. Alas, finished with our meal and afraid of the waiter's reaction once he found out we had fed his mortal enemy, we hightailed it out of there and onto the next days adventure.
And there you have it: day 1 of 5 in Morocco.