If I were to sum up my visit in one sentence, it would be: I had a Morockin’ time until I Marrakech-ed a cold. But my devoted readers probably want a few more details than that, huh?
My itinerary was as follows:
Days 1 and 2: Fez
Day 3: Meknes
Days 4 and 5: Fez
Day 6: 8-hour train ride
Days 7 and 8: Marrakech
In Fez, I had the delightful company of my friend Nina, a fellow teaching assistant who also hails from Minnesnowta.
Unfortunately, there was no way to avoid getting off to an unpleasant start: a night spent in Terminal 2B of Charles de Gaulle airport. Our flight was so early that there was no way we could make it there by train in time for check-in, so we had to try to sleep in the awful chairs in what, I’ve decided, is one of the world’s worst airports. (And I didn’t even have malaria this time.)
So my friend Nina and I arrived in Fez a bit bleary-eyed, but we were greeted by fresh warm air, sunshine, and better hosts than we possibly could have asked for: my dear friend Bouz, his brother Amin and cousin Karim, and their friends Hatim and Maha.
Moroccans absolutely deserve their reputation for hospitality. Bouz’s parents invited us over for meals three days in a row, but not like the American, “Oh, hey, come over and we’ll order takeout.” No, they went all out, preparing fabulous multi-course meals.
Not only was the food great, we couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to Moroccan and Muslim customs. Moroccan families eat around round tables, perhaps doling things onto individual plates, but generally sharing everything right off the serving platter. They don’t pray before meals–come on, five times a day is enough!–but before you take your first bite, you say “Bismillah,” In the name of God, and when you finish, you say, “Hamdullah,” Thank God. And no Moroccan meal is complete without mint tea! They serve it sweet, with sprigs of mint right in the glass. It’s dee-lish!
That first afternoon, we got a whirlwind tour of Fez, driving around the new city and walking around the medina, the old, walled part of the city. Fez’s is the oldest in the world, a UNESCO world heritage site!
The highlight, for me at least, was that we got an insider’s tour of a haberdashery, where we got to witness the production of Fez’s signature hat, the Fez.
Next time on Classy Broad Abroad: Meknès.