A Travellerspoint blog

2. I'm finally here

And finally awake

sunny 85 °F

The road to Morocco was just a tiny bit less awful than I anticipated. Hanging out in airports is torture for some but for me it is an escape into anonymity and the time goes by. Airplanes are another matter entirely. They are prisons. After the first leg of the journey - the red-eye from OAK to JFK, I arrived in NYC in exactly the condition i'd anticipated: unrested and grouchy. That being the case, the tour of the 9/11 Memorial was exactly what I had expected also, taxing and arduous. I guess it is worth the trip, but mostly because you are compelled to go, not because you are particularly enlightened after having been.
When it was finally time to board the flight to Casablance, I was dead and dragging. When I approached the Royal Air Maroc desk, the words just tumbled out,"can I upgrade to Business class?" One of my fellow travelers, overheard me and said, "me too" So we did. I'll not disclose how much I invested to get a bit of sleep (in a completely reclined position), but it was worth it. I slept soundly for maybe four hours. The rest of the flight was spent eating decent food off of real dinnerware and drinking champagne. Wow.
OK. So here I am in the lobby/restaurant of our hotel in Casablanca. This town is pretty much what I expected- loud, bustling, colorful, tacky. Since we arrived too early to check in, we were scooped up by a charming gentleman named Ranni. . . or at least that is the part I remember. Ranni is approx 50, and speaks four or five languages. He will be our guide for the rest of the trip. He took us (in a van) to a little museum in town. I'm not sure if that is the best they have to offer museum-wise, but it was in a former home and exhibited lots of beautiful glass and pottery objects collected by some local rich guy. It was interesting but not educating.
After we were finally able to check in, most of the ladies relaxed in the hotel, decompressing after their two full days of travel. Not I. I could not wait to set foot in The Medina. The Medina is the ancient original walled city. Narrow alleys of tacky little shops, one right after another, curl up a hill in a completely random way. The buildings are multiple stories with living quarters over the street level shops. Not all of the shops were open because of some holiday, but many were and many thin scraggly men hawked at me or leered at me as I walked by. I was a stand-out, the only blonde in the medina and the only woman not in a long skirt. That made me a bit uncomfortable, but there was nothing sinister about the place, at least to my eye. (although some will tell you that the medina is a good place to procure pharmaceuticals). I wandered up and down the alleys, taking it all in, careful to keep track of where the wall is so I'd be able to find my way out of it. I wasn't tempted by any of the silver platters, glass hookahs, leather bags, wooden carvings. I was enthralled by the bustle and the color. It was a bit like Tijuana, compressed. I hope to make my way back i to the medina before I leave, but if I don't, there will be others in Fez and Marrakech.
Off to tour the city. More later.

Posted by Follow Carol 01:15 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

1. I am prepared for Morocco

but dreading JFK

Five days from now I will be on my way. I have spent weeks in preparation (months, actually) and am ready for the adventure. So ready, in fact, that I have already packed most of what I am taking. There is a reason for this over-preparedness, I am going to "travel like Rosemary" and bring only a carry-on 21" bag. . .and a small under-the-seat duffel thing. So I had to practice - and the evidence is still on the floor in my bedroom. The next few days will be spent in unpacking, ironing, and re-packing. I sure hope those clothes haven't grown over the past week. I sure hope I haven't either.

In case you're wondering, Morocco is an Islamic country and therefore (out of respect) my wardrobe is less casual. (Can you call such a small number of items a "wardrobe"?) No shorts (like I'd wear shorts in public!) and no sleeveless or low cut tops. Long pants, cropped pants, 3/4 length sleeved shirts, and a skirt are in order. Skirt? did she say "skirt"? Yes I have one, a long one. The problem is that it is slit up the sides so I sewed snaps on the slits to keep it respectable. I'll be unsnapping those suckers whenever I can! There was some talk about the convenience and comfort of wearing a djellaba. I'd never heard of it either. Look it up - you'll not see a picture of me.

Yes, there are health issues to consider. As in Mexico (and Toledo, OH) it is wise to be careful with drinking water. Ya gotta have an antibiotic with you, just in case. Kaiser prescribed Azithromycin. There is no threat of malaria or yellow-fever OR Ebola!!! But I did get a typhoid shot. Now all I am worried about is a fast acting and short lived sedative so I can try to get some sleep between Sacramento and Casablanca because I cannot sleep on airplanes.

And that is my biggest problem. . . .getting there. I won't bore you with my stupidity (well, maybe in other entries I will) but my schedule on Sunday is pure hell. I am taking a red-eye out of Oakland at 9:00PM, landing in JFK at 5:40AM on Monday, and then, after a 13 hour layover (that I am dreading), I am boarding Royal Air Maroc for a 7 1/2 hour flight to Casablanca. I will arrive there Tuesday morning at 7:40. WTF? Couldn't I have driven there faster? And that is not the end of the torture! I fly back to San Francisco. So my car will be in Oakland and my self will be in San Francisco on Oct 19th. I'll just keep telling myself that my worst day travelling is better than conducting a Credit Review Exit meeting. (inside Bank reference - ask Deborah or Shanda)

I understand that we will have wi-fi in the hotels so I will endeavor to keep this blog going. However, the last three nights we will be on a Sahara Desert tour and for at least one of those nights we'll be in an encampment in the desert. Communication might get a bit dicey. . . I dunno. Just envision Maria Muldaur and you'll know I'm OK.

Here's the itinerary:
Oct 7 - 8 (two nights) Casablanca
Oct 9 - 11 (three nights) Fez
Oct 12 - 14 (three nights) Marrakesh
Oct 15 (one night) Amezrou-Zagora
Oct 16 (one night) Merzouga (tented encampment)
Oct 17 (one night) Ouarzazate
Oct 18 (one night) New York City
Oct 19 (one night) San Francisco, Oakland, or Sacramento

PS - I apologize ahead for the typos. I write this stuff at night after a few glasses of wine.

Posted by Follow Carol 23:34 Comments (0)

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