Morocco is a special place but in no way met any of my expectations, both good and bad. To sum up our Morocco trip in a single phrase, I would say it was “full on”. Let me give you my top observations about Morocco here:
1. Marrakech is not an undiscovered city.
There is no better way of exemplifying this than terrible Hop On Hop Off City Buses. These abominations fill every tourist big city stuffed with fat colourfully dressed Westerners. They were in Marakech. So it goes.
2. Moroccan men enjoy the company of other men
I will start by saying I’m a gay rights supporter that has DJ’d for a San Franciscan gender illusionist club. That said, Moroccan men kiss each other and hold hands…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
3. The Djeema El Fna is a big rave sans the glow sticks
The world renowned square in Marrakech is an interesting sight of vendors, tourist attractions like snake charmers, food, and people everywhere. It really just felt like a big rave where you walk around in the desert looking at light shows. Some areas have very aggressive guys trying to get you to try their food and reminding you constantly that you are Japonaise…which brings me to my next point.
3. London Ninja is not Japonaise.
I studied Japanese for 2 years in University but am not Japanese no matter how much sushi I consume. The people in Marrakech, however, do not seem to agree with this and continually say, “konichiwa, arigato.” I have no one to blame for this but the Japonaise themselves. I am certain groups of wealthy Japonaise giggle and toss out Moroccan Dirhims at the sound of anything resembling Japanese. Thank you, Japonaise. I owe you one.
4. Moroccans do not shake or eat with their left hands.
I’m not sure I need to expand on this, but I will and let’s just say toilet paper is not present in every toilet…and by toilet, I’m talking about a hole in the ground…a shithole, literally. There’s usually some source of water around so you can wash your dirty hand or however that works. I don’t even want to go there other than to say bring your TP if you’re heading out to Morocco.
5. Moroccan food is …. ok
Tajine, meats and vegetables cooked in a clay pot resembling an upside down funnel, brochette, and cous cous are pretty good…but not that good. It is, however, what you eat every meal of every day in Morocco. The flavours are ok, just not varied or complex. After a couple of days, beef pho with basil and Sriracha starts to sound pretty damn good.
6. Islamic chanting over loud speakers sounds like chicken killing
No offense to all Moroccan Muslims out there, but the prayer/song that is chanted all day in Morocco really needs a bit more soul(see what I did there?)5 times a day, the city is covered by the singing of various priests who make a singing/whining sound through loudspeakers covering the entire city, which is when Muslims are to pray in a mosque or on their own. While I found it amusing the first time I heard it (during a nap), it lost that jenesequa at 5am. This was every day I was in Morocco and apparently they never voted out the bad singers. What happened to quality control?
7. Camels are cute and cost less than donkeys
Donkeys, are also cute little things. This is my sensitive side, folks…you know, the one chicks(including my wife) dig. Feel free to take notes. You can’t take the game out of the player, son. Where was I? Ah, yes…Donkeys. Camels cost 12000md, 500 for a donkey. Yes, your very own donkey for the price of dinner and drinks in San Francisco. Why not? From what I’ve seen both donkeys and camels have a undeserved reputation for biting, spitting, and being disagreeable creatures. The farting reputation stands.
Both animals seem to always have a smile on their faces. Who doesn’t like that? Camels also have interesting feet, their toes in particular…not sure why.
8. When given the choice, do not ride a camel smaller than you
On our 3 day excursion out to the Sahara desert in Erg Chebbi near Merzouga, we rode camels into the sand dunes where we slept under the stars in a Berber tent. Somehow I was stuck on a camel the size of my cousin Jimmy, who while big for a ninja, is nowhere near what a camel is at full size.
The ride was pretty amazing…if you define sore and chafed bollocks as amazing. 2 hours felt just right for the camel ride…if you ask my bollocks.
Sunset and sunrise were lovely, as were the most amazing stars I’ve seen since Hale Bopp. One bit of advice on these yours is not to expect full narration. Let’s just say there still is a language gap between Moroccans and Japonaise.
9. Riads are where you should stay in
Riads are like bed and breakfasts but in a fancy Prince of Persia type setting. Ours was very cool where the host brought us mint tea in the courtyard and brought us to our very ornate room. There is no other way to stay in Morocco…stay in a nice riad.
10. Berber Whiskey is not the same as Scotch Whiskey
There is no distillation process. There is no aging. There is no slurring of speech. There is no puddle of filth in the corner of the room(as displayed by ODJ during our trip to Galway). There is no headache the next morning. There is no looking around and asking “Where are my clothes and why am I in a chicken outfit?”
Morocco is a Islamic country and as such alcohol is difficult to get a hold of…usually at the risk of death. Generally you can find it at Westernised hotels and other buildings that get blown up here and there. (nah, it’s not all that extreme). Instead of alcohol Moroccans drink a lot of mint tea, which is strong green tea, fresh mint leaves, and a lot of sugar. It tastes like Spearmint gum in a shotglass, which once you get used to it can tastes much better than Jim Beam ever tasted.
Conclusion: 4/5 ninjas
Morocco was in the end unlike anywhere else we’ve ever been. The “full-on” aspect of it, the camels, the mint tea, the sahara, etc. It was a great. You can only stay in Marrakech for so long and trips to the desert or outside of Marrakech are recommended. You are viewed as dollar bills and the people can be aggressive but as long as you’re aware, it’s all good. Just have some Berber Whiskey and start practicing Japonaise!
Slideshow (~65 pics)