First, I know what you are thinking. Something about illness. Maybe consider something else. Take precautions and remember worrying compromises your immune system. Laughter gives it a boost. Here is one of my personal favorites for laughter even though I am no longer Scottish:
Belle and I have been in wonderful Morocco. Last night we got one of the last flights out of the country so I am sitting here in London, where I wasn’t supposed to be at this point, waiting for my flight to San Francisco. One thing that travel teaches — be flexible. So I canceled 3-1/2 months of travel to Central Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Actually, it cancelled me. But I will be glad to see family and friends at home.
Anyway, Belle wrote a posting about Marrakesh. She is my first guest blogger!!! Here it is….
Marrakesh isn’t for everyone and I am still deciding if it is for me. Kim and I arrived to what only could be described as…okay I can’t describe it. If I had ever been to Carnaval or Mardi Gras, I would imagine it would be like a combination of both. The streets were filled with vendors of all kinds, music pulsated throughout the medina (square), people were rushing everywhere and yes, the requisite pythons were there too. Our hotel guide ushered through the souks (marketplace) and I felt like I had to hold on for dear life. It was late. We were tired and I wasn’t ready to bargain. I had been forewarned and having spent so much of my youth vacationing in Mexico knew that I would have to revisit my haggling skills which I can’t say I was ever particularly good at. After a very restful night of sleep in a riad (a traditional Moroccan house with a garden in the center) we explored vast threads of souks, keeping our game faces on and heeding our riad host’s suggestion to not engage or answer questions hence we end up coming home with things we may not have wanted. It was an interesting game of cat and mouse. The smells, and textures were alluring and we were making mental notes of things we may want to buy which we thought would be easier to negotiate in Fes, our next stop.
While exploring the souks, we stopped at the Women’s Museum to understand more completely the plight of women in Morroco today. Interestlingly, and not surprisingly a lot of what was presented was framed through the lens of men. Having just read “Men Explain Things to Me” I was more aware than ever of the challenges women have especially in countries such as Morroco to find their voices, and their places as equals in a male dominated society.
No trip to Marrakesh is complete without a visit to the Jardin Majorelle, a beautiful garden created by and featuring the artwork of the garden’s namesake, a French painter. In addition, the garden is home to the Yves St. Laurent and Berber Museums. The gardenscape was just like Arizona where I live, and my husband Bill would have been in his glory since the garden was graced with his beloved palm trees everywhere and many cactus I recognized. The Berber Museum was
the winning spot in my estimation since I am not fan of bourgeoisie fashion. The Berbers are a 9,000 year old culture and represent a cross section of North African heritage including Judaism. They have a storied past and still exist today, offering travel-goers opportunities to stay at their various camps to have a “Berber experience.”
You can get to a Berber community involves a camel ride. Kim did that some years ago. Due to a limited time in Marrakesh, we opted for the camel ride only. Being great lovers of horses, it wasn’t a big leap to think we could love camels too. And we did. This was to be an “ethical” camel ride and was a bit pricey, and unfortunately we never found out what makes a camel ride ethical since our original host did not show up due to the birth of his daughter.
After our time in Marrakesh, we took the train to Fes and in the last hour, prior to arrival, met a gentleman who jumped on the train from Meknes and just happened to work in the tourism office. He was a wealth of information and Kim took enough notes to keep us busy for the two days in Fes. He hooked us up with Mohammed for a walking tour and a possible tour of the countryside and outlying communities. Our new friend mentioned the king and the country’s love for the king’s efforts and focus on helping Morocco advance and prosper. Mohammed VI is only 54 and has held this esteemed position since 1999. Others we have met indicated he does little to actually benefit the people, preferring to squander resources on his own self-interests.
Right now, we are both deciding next steps in this ongoing and unfolding series of Corona-virus events. The pandemic is virtually non-existent in Morocco. Our time in Spain was untouched as well. But with a trip to England for me, I think I will abbreviate my time and head home.
Here are some parting shots of my own:
The other thing that travel has taught me is that if my biggest problem is the possibility of contracting the virus starting with “C,” I am still among the safest and most privileged people in the world.
So that’s all for now. Stay well and don’t forget to laugh.