Chronicles of a Nomad: The Moroccan Edition

Chronicles of a Nomad: The Moroccan Edition

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to travel to Morocco; with my evenings filled with sunsets overlooking the Sahara, tea with the Berbers and long camel rides in the desert.

I couldn’t find friends to take the journey with me and inhibited by the frightful stories of women traveling alone I parked this dream - until last year. I had just had a life changing surgery and sitting in my room during the mandated 6-week recovery period I planned my itinerary. I threw caution to the winds, read as many blog posts as I could and mustered the confidence to take this trip alone.

I have taken many trips in my lifetime but nothing prepared me for the sights, sounds and smells of Morocco. My first stop was Marrakesh. I got to Marrakesh in the early afternoon when the bristling heat was at its peak. The medinas, the heart of the city with its twisted streets, was bustling with energy, with the smell of coffees drifting in the hot hazy afternoon breeze. I wandered through the plazas and streets, in and out of shops and restaurants. Each time I felt I had mastered the maze, only to get lost all over again, lost in the historic culture, souks, and men haggling their wares and trying to lure me to spend in their shops.

My taste buds were introduced to a different kind of taste explosion. I started my days with the Berber omelets cooked with tomatoes, onions, and herbs. Throughout the day, the locals invited me into their shops for tea. Each cup was a completely different experience. There was even an art to the way it was poured. This was reminiscent of my coffee experience in Ethiopia where a simple invitation to share a pot of coffee was a cultural experience in itself.

As cultured as my palate is, nothing prepared me for the gastronomic complexities of the traditional tagine dish. This dish which takes its name from a tagine the clay or ceramic pots its cooked in, was made with meats, dates, nuts, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and saffron.

My evenings were the Moroccan equivalent of a bar crawl; each evening as the sun was setting I would head to Djemaa el-Fna. At night, the snake charmers and henna tattoo artists made way for the chefs, musicians and pickpockets alike.  For a few dirhams, I dined with the locals, seated on low benches where the menu was simple but tasty. After this I wandered around watching the street artists with a cup of a spicy ginseng infusion in one hand.

After several days in the chaotic pace of the old city, I was ready to enjoy the relaxing part of Marrakesh. I strolled over to the Menara gardens which wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be, but that was quickly made up by the grandeur and lush gardens of Jardin Majorelle. The Jardine Majorelle which is one of the most visited sites in Marrakesh quickly whisked me away from the bedlam of the city which was near but yet faraway. I walked through lanes shaded by exotic plants and trees. The burbling streams and pools added to the euphony of the rustling leaves and chirping birds. The backdrop of the Atlas Mountains furthered added to this experience which honestly felt like it fell out of a page of an Enid Blyton novel. Walking through this garden, it became clear why writers like Truman Capote and Paul Bowels were fascinated with this beautiful country of Contrasts.

To be Continued….
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  2. I was in Morocco a couple of times and it was a great place to visit. This year I decided to go to Hawaii because the islands are iconic and extremely popular. Hopefully, it'll be worth it.