I’m sorry that this post is so delayed!
This is Azrou.
Last weekend’s Atlas Mountain travels continued to have lots of cold rain. Michelle and I bussed to Chefchaouen on Monday morning. It is really pretty — a town with white walls and blue doors, but I’m afraid that we couldn’t enjoy it much in the pouring rain.
During our rainy day in Chefchaouen, we went to a carpet shop and had a fun time. Michelle had a great time getting me proposed to by the carpet shop owner. I had to decline, even after his offer of 198 cows (payment to her, of course).
The ride back to Casablanca was beautiful!
Tuesday I took the bus back to Casablanca, and was really glad to get warm and hang out with Kevin and Keely. We watched The Two Towers extended edition on Tuesday night. I really enjoy those stories. It is nice to step out of the everyday patterns of life and think about the bigger picture, which I think epics help us to do. It is especially good as I think through what I want to do with my life:-).
Wednesday I went to the Casablanca medina on my own to do a little shopping. It was a fun day meeting people on the street and barganing for a few things I wanted. I’m not sure whether I’ve ever done that alone before, and it was certainly interesting! In the evening we watched The Return of the King.
I flew home on Thursday. Kevin graciously offered to drive me to the airport, and after circling it several times due to very very confusing and insufficient signage we found my drop-off point and I began my journey. I realized I still had a lot of “American” in me when the security procedures to board the flight took, I kid you not, about an hour and a half. I felt like I got to know everyone on my plane as we each went through line after line, sometimes being turned back to fill out a form or questioned by some very slow-moving personell. The same guy (about my age) inspected my bag in two different stations.
The flight to JFK was good. It took about 8 hours and went smoothly. I got to see The Blind Side (twice, they played back to back) for the first time. I really enjoyed it. The JFK experience wasn’t great but I found my flight and we eventually took off.
About two hours after the scheduled arrival time we landed in Baltimore. My bag was one of the first off the plane and it was sooo nice to have John pick me up and to go home to my beautiful room at the Gladstone house.
I have had a great time getting to see friends (although I definetely haven’t seen everyone important yet) and resting up this weekend. I was frusterated that I wasn’t feeling well on Saturday and Sunday and didn’t have much energy. I’m feeling MUCH better today, though, and am thankful for that!
I have some debriefing work to do this week as I process through my trip. Thanks again to everyone for following this trip! I will continue writing as my adventure continues. Also, I’ll post more pictures from my last few weeks.
I hope you are all well! I am enjoying some backpacker-style travels this last week in Morocco.
Yesterday I did my first solitary travel in North Africa. Praise God, everything went very well! I left Kevin and Keely’s at 8:45 or so to go to the bus agency, and arrived there by 9:30 and successfully purchased my ticket for my 10:00 bus. The bus showed up at about 10:45 and I began the (supposedly) 5 1/2 hour journey. At about 6pm I arrived in Azrou, and was able to find my friend pretty easily (or she found me).
Last night Michelle, Anthony (a friend of Michelle’s through another traveler, who has been traveling for 2 1/2 years), and I went to a resturant and had some tajine — traditional Moroccan food for dinner. It was really good, steamed veggies and meat, with bread and a salad. We took our time and went back to our hotel.
Today we had a leisurely breakfast at a cafe of coffee and pasteries, and then took a walk around town. It has been bad weather today, but is still wonderful to be in the mountains, in this very sweet town. We had an excellent lunch (I’ll post a picture when I can get a computer to accept my card) of chicken and sides… yumm. Meat isn’t always eaten as a main dish here, so it was good to get a solid helping of protein.
This afternoon has been very rainy, and cold. In Marrakesh last weekend I lost my rain jacket, so for the last half-day I have been trying to get warm… to no avail so far (although I think I’ve had 3 or 4 hot drinks). I think we’ll have soup for dinner, and then I think I’ll crawl under the bed covers. Hopefully that’ll work!
Tomorrow the plan is to go to a cedar forrest and see some apes! Then Sunday I think Michelle and I will go to a really pretty town I’ve been wanted to see since being in Morocco. I’ll keep you posted!
I have had a nice few days with Kevin and Keely. After getting back to Casablanca on Saturday, Michelle stayed for a few nights for some down time. She left for Fes on Monday, and I will be joining her to visit three cities in that area tomorrow morning. Ryan left today to finish his travels in Italy.
SO, there are not too many adventures to report for this week. Ryan and I wondered into what I think is the thieves market on Tuesday. There were lots of things like used cell phones and laptops as well as pretty much anything else you can imagine in little shops. We also ventured out yesterday to see the Hasan II Mosque, which is one of the largest mosques in the world. I have enjoyed having the opportunity to work out a little bit (Kevin has some P90x videos, which have been fun). I baked cookies yesterday morning, one of my favorite things to do!
I also have been working on some next steps planning. It is exciting that I’ll be on my way home for a week, but do plan to do more traveling soon after getting back to Maryland. I’ll be home (in Ellicott City) from the 11th until the 21st or so, and then will be spending about a week at my grandparents’ house in Pennsylvania. After that there are a few options on the horizon, and I’ll let you know as I get more information and make some decisions.
Here are some pictures from the mosque:
Hopefully I’ll have some more fun stories for you in my next post! I’m meeting up with Michelle tomorrow, so if history is any indication we’ll get ourselves into some kind of adventure:-).
We are back in Casablanca following some fun travels in Morocco!
As I mentioned in my last post, my first few days in Morocco were very nice and relaxing. It is so fun to get to hang out with Kevin and Keely, and such a blessing that they have enough room for me to have my own bedroom here in their apartment:-). I got sick about the time I got here, which was pretty much perfect timing (if I needed to get sick at all)… it would have been much worse to be traveling hard while not feeling great.
I mentioned before that we met an American couple in Aswan, Egypt. Michelle has been traveling for the last 9 months, primarily in the Middle East as a couch surfer, and met up with us here in Morocco (her boyfriend is now back in the states). Kevin and Keely hosted her for dinner on Tuesday night, and she, Ryan and I left Casablanca for Essouria and Marrakesh on Wednesday morning.
Essouria is a beautiful coastal town, and we enjoyed meandering through the streets of the Medina (old city), visiting the local port/fishing hub, and buying fresh and dried fruit and nuts. On Thursday afternoon, Michelle and I sat on the roof of our hotel overlooking the ocean (a wonderful view complete with sea gulls, surf hitting the rocks, and clear skies). In the late afternoon another traveler came to the roof to watch the sunset. He said that he had been at a Hammam (Turkish bath house), and RAVED about his experience there. Michelle said she’s really enjoyed Hammams in the past, and I was feeling up for an adventure. We decided if they were still open we would go.
We ended up being at the bath house when many, many local women were there, in the early evening. A lady scrubbed us, and without being graphic I’ll tell you it was quite an experience. A combination of events made the experience really awkward and completely hilarious. Overall a very fun memory, although not entirely relaxing:-).
The next morning we left for Marrakesh, a very popular European travel destination. It was really cool, seeming just like a maze of alleyways full of vendors. Behind the walls, however, were amazing Riads — traditional mansions with rooms surrounding a mulit-level courtyard. We went to a few high end hotels in Riads before getting to our hotel, which was nice but much less pricey.
Marrakesh is famous for a large square with tons of street food and entertainers. Michelle and I had a great time trying the food. I had my first sheep’s head (and since I know you’re curious it was just skin and a little bit of juicy meat from the face area), escargot (I ate three or four snails), and very cinnamony gingery cake and tea. We also had a few glasses of freshly-squeezed orange juice, a real treat at about $0.25 each.
The very spicy spice cake.
As we left the Medina for the train station I realized that I didn’t have my jacket with me. I couldn’t remember where I left it, but ran (literally) back to our hotel to check for it. I didn’t find it, but we were then in a rush to get to the train station on time. We ended up jumping in a cab and our driver asked us if we were trying to catch the 7:00 train, which was in about 25 minutes. When we said yes, we realized that he had made it his personal mission to get us there on time. I think he did a 30 minute trip in 15 minutes, and did it like a pro. I wish I could recommend him to all of my friends — it was an amazing driving feat. We even had time to pick up some dinner at the McDonald’s at the train station before heading back to Casablanca.
Today has been relaxed — all of us doing some catch-up on the computer and planning for the rest of our time in Morocco. I am officially headed back to Maryland from Morocco on the 11th of March. Because of the cost and some of the details not working as I had hoped, I decided to spend some extra time in Morocco and fly home from here rather than going to Europe from here. I would like to go to Haiti if I can be of help there in April (let me know if you have any suggestions about needs there), and/or might try to do some traveling in Europe this spring. I think I realized the “Laura Travel Adventure” will not be ending when I go home… so it made more sense to book that flight from here.
Thanks again for all of your prayers. I am looking forward to seeing many of you within the next month!!!
Just a quick note to say that I am in Morocco. It has been wonderful to stay with Kevin and Keely and relax a little (especially since I got sick about the same time I got here). I didn’t have much to report from my time in Casablanca, but these last few days I have been traveling with Ryan and our new addition, Michelle, and have had some fantastic adventures!!!
I don’t have time to write now, but did just want to check in (I realized today that I passed my limit between blog posts again), so I owe some stories… so please check back soon. I’ll tell you about my first Hammam (bath house) experience, which was quite exciting, as well as my first experience eating escargo, lamb’s head, and a few other things, and my experiences in several Moroccan towns. Please check back soon — I’ll post Sunday if not before.
So you know, I am doing well, having a great time here, and am getting excited about coming home before too long. I’ll write more about that as well!