After a long layover in Madrid and a delayed flight, we finally touched down in Morocco! From the air all I could see was desert, dirt and buildings that reminded me of nativity scenes. Walking off the plane I was hit by a 98 degree heat wave, but with hardly any humidity it wasn’t bad at all! After going through passport control we found our driver from the Riad we were staying at, hopped into his van and we were on our way!
The driving was ridiculous, illegal u-turns, horns honking like crazy and mopeds everywhere! I think our driver was amused everytime we would exclaim when we came within inches of another vehicle. About ten minutes later we stopped in the middle of a square, grabbed our bags and followed another guy from our Riad. We walked through alleys, under arches and down narrow pathways (this is when I really started to feel that 98 degree weather) Our guide was navigating the streets like it was no big deal and it was hard to keep up with all of the distractions around us! I was captivated by the chaos of people, animals and bikes in every direction.
After turning down a side street and passing under an arch we reached a small, quiet alley and we had arrived at Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge! Walking in literally left me speechless. There were couches stacked with pillows, colorful murals on the walls and lanterns hanging on the ceiling. Our guide led us into a beautiful open air room- looking up there were a couple levels with balconies and lanterns hanging everywhere. Any pictures I post will not do this incredible place justice! Everyone was so friendly, they immediately told us to sit down and relax and brought us tea and cookies. After sorting out our rooms and money we got a tour of the Riad- I couldn’t believe how big it was! It went up three floors and had hidden rooms and bathrooms everywhere. We got settled into our cozy room with three sets of bunk beds and headed up the last staircase to the roof! Complete with couches, plants and a number of stray cats and turtles (yes, turtles) it is a prime place to relax and catch a breeze. I’m still in awe of the architecture and design of the Riad and how welcome I felt.
Next we ventured out to the medina (the main market of Marrakech) following the rough directions of “straight, left, right, left” we somehow navigated the streets correctly and ended up in the midst of storefronts, restaurants and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Sounds of children yelling, mopeds revving and an endless amount of people trying to sell their products filled the air. It was overwhelming, exciting and simply absurd all at once. We walked around the entire square and ventured over to the main Mosque in the city. We wandered through gardens, random side streets and tried fresh squeezed orange juice. (Side note: when the man who made our orange juice figured out we were from the USA he promptly started calling us Obama, it was hilarious and he was great entertainment.)
We returned to the Riad to get hydrated and rest- the roof has quickly become my favorite spot. Having no idea what time the average Moroccan eats dinner, we headed out to try the traditional meal of Tanine and Couscous. We arrived at “Restaurant TizNit” and realized we were super early for dinner but decided to stay! We had bread and lentils as well as the traditional dishes we ordered. It was great, the meat fell right off the bone and the carrots were delicious!
I can’t believe I have been here for less than 24 hours, it feels like it has already been days. I’m going to enjoy the stargazing from the rooftop and then hit the hay as my jetlag is catching up to me. Can’t wait to see the adventures tomorrow will bring!