This is my first time with my feet in Africa, which means I have been in all 5 continents! Yey! Go Girl! But... Morocco is not Africa for me. When I think of Africa I think of what is so called "Black Africa" so I'm not 100% conviced I've been in all continents. Let's plan a Trip to South Africa or Madagascar or Cape Verde! Ok take it easy you may think. I'm in Morocco and I don't wanna be anywhere else right now.
Morocco was on my Travel List for a long time, it's so close and easy to reach but I didn't want to travel this country only one week or on a tour. I wanted to explore the place myself, taking my time watching their lifestyle, to know more about the islam religion, to try their delicious food, to ride a camel in the desert, to watch the islamic buildings... I wanted to travel one month but now will go with the flow and stay until I feel like. Good thing when you are having a good time and don't have responsabilities, like your job. This is the time you feel free.
Tangier is a good introduction of Morocco because you get to see the Moroccan culture but there's European influence. Besides Arabic, they also speak french and Spanish here so we are comfortable but the more you go down the less they speak Spanish which is a language barrier but I love to practise my body language.
I have to tell you guys, there are many stereotypes about Morocco out there! The food is not that spicy, vendors are not that boring and so far we only been ripped off one or two times (as far as we know haha) Yes, it's dirty (at least in the cities) and yes Moroccans have great hospitality: all the drivers we hitch hike with take us to eat and sometimes show us around by car. I feel very welcome here but I'm glad I'm travelling with my partner because men can be annoying ,staring at you woman.
With 300€ I could actually stay at least 6 weeks. Moroccans (especially from the South) invite you to sleep in their houses, feed you and even give you money (!!!) but we don't accept, that's not the point. When you hitch hike and Couch Surf you save so much, enough to travel much more.
But I'm tired of Morocco to be honest. I mean, I'm having a great time but there's no fix price, you even bargain for food, seriously! Also there are many moroccans out there that seem to be your friends but in the end all they want is to sell you something. Worst! They can give you something as a gift and in the end they ask money for that. Very important: Not everybody is like this, we met many many nice, kind and friendly moroccans. Feels that in the South people are nicer maybe because is far from big cities?
Tangier is a crowded city with a small but nice Medina (means city, the old city) close to the coast and a great spot called Hafa Cafe with the Mediterranean sea in front of you while you drink a cup of mint tea.
From the CouchSurfer living room we were staying in ,we were pretty fortunate to look at this beautiful view of Tarifa (Spain) and Gibraltar in front.
We decided to spend the Sunday afternoon in Assilah a small and cozy town, long time ago belong to Portuguese and yes, you see Portuguese influence in the buildings. Just to visit one afternoon is enough, but if you need a retreat of one week this is a great place to relax and renovate energies.
Ait Ben Haddou is located 30 km away from Ouarzazate (known as “The Gate to Desert”) and part of UNESCO World Heritage, protecting those 500 years old mud made houses (kasba in Arabic) from erosion and destruction. In the past was the spot where caravans would stop when traveling between Marrakech and the Desert.
There’s no local bus to get here, since this is a “Tourist Village” and mostly of tourists either have their own vehicle or come with a tour. We are hitch hiking and the taxi from Ouarzazate was 100 DH (around 10€) just one way we decided to… hitch hike :) Not many cars pass by in this route and mostly ask you money but we managed to arrive after 3 rides, the second from the police. The way back was also easy, I’d say we are lucky bastards! And yeah, we made it for free. It´s also free entrance.
It's also considered the “Cinema Village” since many movies were made there. Maybe you have seen Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven or Prince of Persia or the newest movie The Queen of the Desert? It’s such an inspiring place, even Hollywood cannot miss it!
I’m glad we made it to Ait Ben Haddou but I highly recommend renting a car (about 300 DH/day) if you are in Ouarzazate. You can visit so many interesting places around the city like the other 2 castles and the Oasis. We left with this feeling we could see so much more and the need of a caravan came back to our deep thoughts.
Being in the Sahara Desert was, without any doubt, one of the best moments of my life. The feeling of silence, of non life, far away from any electronics and the busy life out there was speechless. We decided to go to Erg Chebbi Dunes in Merzouga to enter the desert. We knew we had to book a tour and be a tourist for few hours . The agency we found was asking 400 DH (around 40€
for the pack) riding a camel one hour in the desert until the camping site, watch the sunset from the top of the dune, have Moroccan dinner, sleep with the stars and come back in the morning riding a camel and at the same time enjoy the sunrise and breakfast in the hotel where we leave our backpacks. We bargained so hard that we paid 500 DH for both. It's crazy that we are spending around 5€/day and suddenly 40€ in one click. 25€ sounded reasonable. Common! Being in the South of Morocco and not experience the desert? We'd miss something.
We just arrived in Chefchaouen, our last stop in this Morocco adventure. From Fes to here, you watch the most beautiful landscape of greenish mountains everywhere, I love it so much!
And when you see this town closer, you only see white and blue houses in a hill, so pretty. Tons of people told us about this place, either Moroccans and travelers, but I try not to make expectations because of the disappointments you can get. My travel experience says: always go and look with your eyes. Sometimes people didn't like a place because they got stolen, bad experiences or other negative feelings. But doesn't mean that you will feel the same way. This town is picturesque and funky, can't wait to explore tomorrow. It's definitely the best place for shopping handmade, the sellers aren't that annoying and you find unique and creative items in every corner of the Old City.
And the surroundings seem fascinating, want to go on a hike every day! Sounds like a great spot to finish this beautiful trip. (another ride in the desert would be also a great choice! hehe)
And for the first time we are staying in a Riad which is a traditional moroccan house with an interior garden. Nowadays staying in a Riad means 50€ a night, it's the trend place to stay in Morocco but we are staying in the terrace for only 2€. So we can watch the stars and the sunrise in a mattress and blanket and all Riad access free, weeeee! We are proud backpackers and I love this family houses style hotel.