[OURIKA VALLEY, MOROCCO] — The road out of Marrakesh is a great unwinding. Leaving the crowded and bustling Medina behind, the criss-crossing crowded intersections and roundabouts, vehicles of every different size and shape. Donkey- and horse-drawn carts take their place alongside screaming mopeds, belching buses and trucks loaded with construction supplies and produce. Vendors selling everything out of their trunk on the side of the road or at a waiting stoplight. Well-dressed Moroccans and expats enjoying a coffee in the many outdoor cafes. It’s an insane cacophony. Then you pass thru the suburban apartment blocks, women in full headdress walking their kids to school. Guys repairing cars on a wide sidewalk. Then the sprawling Palmeraie, a palm grove of several hundred thousand trees, huge
[Essaouira, Morocco] — “Will we be able to see the goats in the trees?” I’d read about them for years, had seen picture and always wondered: “Why are the goats in trees?” 🙃 Now I wanted to see them. The drive from the Atlas Mountains was long and a little painful, you basically have to drive back through Marrakesh, then two and half hours driving across the barren plains to Essaouira on the coast. But as we were getting close to Essaouira, the driver quickly pulled over to the side of the road. GOATS! After the initial fun reaction, we soon realized this was a tourist sham. The reason why the goats were bleating was because they were put up there by the
[MARRAKESH] — The first time I came to Morocco a few years ago, I was cranky. And a little scared. My TAP flight from Lisbon had a painful five hour chair-less layover in Casablanca and it was close to midnight by the time I pulled up to the hotel. It was hot. I was sweaty and sticky. The traffic was insane, snarled with scooters and lorries and donkey carts as the driver pulled over, fumes spewing when I opened the car door. I got out, bleary eyed, we were next to a busy gas station, cars lined up, honking out into the street. All the shops were boarded up and men were screaming at a completely jammed bus terminal across the street. A garish fluorescent light
[MARRAKESH] — Arriving at Marrakesh airport was a trip. My hotel had arranged a Fast Track service to expedite thru the passport control. A cute, small red-lipped French-speaking girl in a matching red blazer welcomed me immediately off the jetway with a sign. It was the first time I’d seen my name as a verb — “Fogarting”. We stood awkwardly as we waited for my baggage, toes tapping, me trying my Bad French. She, apologizing for her delightful English: “I like this, I can practice my English….” acknowledging that my jet my high school French was worthless. After collecting my bags, she whisked me past another queue, then another, and then to yet another man outside the door with a “72 Riad” sign. He, in turn,
[THE SAHARA, MOROCCO] — I was sitting there polishing off my second Negroni — a Negroni in the frickin’ Sahara Desert — watching the blazing sun rapidly sink over the darkening horizon when here comes Ahmed, barreling over the lip of the nearest dune, in bare feet (!). Huffing, he says “Monsieur Dan, we have one more surprise for you tonight. Please come. Oh… and bring your camera.” As if I needed more surprises that day… we start charging off through the sand towards the quickly setting sun. We follow a path along the dune ridges, lanterns illuminating the way, the darkness arriving freaky-fast, almost like a light switch. We top the lip of the ridge and I shriek like a little girl. Ahmed giggles with
bouti[SKOURA, MOROCCO] — After a long, bumpy slog over the Atlas Mountains from Marrakesh, I got out of the dusty Mercedes van in an indiscriminate parking lot outside a great mud-walled compound. Walls up to the sky. This is it? I wondered under my breath. This is the place I’ve heard so much about? And then, with silent porters in linen tunics grabbing my bags, a great wooden door opened from the thick walls. A donkey groaned downed by the road we just passed. “Hello, my name is Florent. You can call me Flo.” a slight, chicly-dressed young Frenchman with up-turned collar addressed me. Peeking inside, everything became clear. “Oh, this is it. This is definitely it.” I follow Flo through the thick
[KASBAH TAMADOT, MOROCCO] — Pulling out of the crazy busy dark corners of Medina of Marrakesh, the sky suddenly opens up. Endless palm trees paint the sky like clouds. Vast estates with long pink mud walls line the highway for miles. And that’s when you first see them, the Atlas Mountains, snow capped even in the 80 degree spring heat. Beckoning from a distance to come up to the cool crisp air. Soon the road thins out, the estates give way to small hamlets, dirt orange mud-walled buildings stacked like books up the hills. Traveling fast in the air-conditioned wifi-enabled van, I spy an old man on a donkey pulling livestock like it was a Christmas Card, which is kinda jarring when you’re in a
Here’s a quiet little video summary I made of a fabulous two week trip in Morocco in April 2015. I tried to capture the sights, sounds and incomparable experiences of all of Morocco. Marrakesh, the High Atlas Mountains, the desert oasis of Skoura and camping in the Sahara. If you want more detailed information of all the sights in this video, check out the Morocco page on my website. Lots of great pictures, information, maps and links to other resources to help you plan your trip. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.
[HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS, MOROCCO] — I didn’t know there’d be a donkey involved. Actually, I didn’t really know what all would be involved. But there he was, on a foot bridge spanning a roaring river. Staring at me like “Really?”. It would be hard to be a donkey, actually. Getting all the shit jobs that man doesn’t want to do, in this case, carrying my pack and our lunch for the day. And the flies. Man, the flies. A constant swarm of pesky varmints, always, poking your eyes, biting your knees, and just all-around being annoying. 24/7. I hate flies and if I was a donkey, I’d really hate flies. A constant shake of the head to shake them away. My tail in continuous motion to
[MARRAKESH, MOROCCO] — It is the drums that get you first. A full-frontal, heart-fibrillating pounding of Berber rhythms. So intense and staccato-firing that Buddy Rich would have a hard time keeping up. And the flutes. The ear-piercing, high pitched whine of the flutes, constant, taunting cobras to dance on the hot stones. And the people. The rush of endless people. Of every shape, size, color, religion, sunburn, clothing, shape, shoe-type/non-shoe-wearing. And the breeze. A steady wave of warm air that makes the palms, the long robes, the billowing smoke from the merguez grilling in the food stalls all harmonized and flowing like caught in the same current of a river. “Heeeeyyyyyy” he says in an eerily friendly Americanized accent, scaring me from behind. I jumped.
[MARRAKESH, MOROCCO] — It was midnight on a full moon in Marrakesh. A late flight from Barcelona after transferring from Casablanca. The driver pulls over on a very busy, unremarkable street, next to a gas station, an LP gas depot and about the world’s most frenetic bus stop and taxi stand, drivers wailing and waving, engines gunning. Everyone looked to be in charge. Buses, trucks and loud scooters screamed by, drowning out the shouts of the cab stand. The van stopped in the middle of the street and the door swung open. A nondescript wood door lay before me; no sign, no grand entrance, just two guys in muted brown tunics. “This is it?” I asked. “It’s Marrakesh, there’s always a surprise behind the doors.
[MARRAKESH, MOROCCO] — The sun had set. The sky dimming a deep purple. Reflections on a giant dark pool shimmered back the endless repetitive patterns of grand columns across the water — embracing my pattern-OCD like a bear hug. A handful of people relaxed on pillows strewn about a manicured lawn, sipping cocktails amidst the growing light of the dozens of lanterns lit just so. Silently, five men in long robes and headscarves sat down in low chairs at the water’s edge. And then it started. A gentle bass drum, lithe strings join in, picking up the pace as a percussion resonated against all the giant stone walls surrounding the lagoon. Not loud, on the contrary, it sounded like being in a recording studio, with a growing crescendo of