Saturday, January 12, 2008

Goats Head Soup & Tea in the Sahara

I love to travel. Much of my inspiration comes from the places I've been and the experiences I've had.

Below are my diary entries from my Moroccan honeymoon. One month spent...adventuring.

"Castles Made of Sand"
after a week in beautiful western europe (london and paris) we are now in colorful morocco. the closest thing that i can liken it to is the scene in indiana jones
where whatshername is wandering through the streets of cairo.
unlike other middle eastern countries that i have been i.e , egypt,
turkey, israel, the old city here, called the medina, is a wide
thoroughfare with so many people, smells, vendors, etc that it is almost too
much to take in. everyone is in traditional dress and everything is very
old thus making it seem as if you could be in any century.
yesterday we went to the castle made of sand, made famous by the
jimi hendrix song (he lived in the area in which we are currently,
called essouiera). it was amazing. an actual castle made of sand on
the beach. we loved it.
other than that we are just trying to acclimate ourselves to the
culture, doing some shopping, and walking along the beaches.
today we head for marakesh where the craziness will be even more
we love it here and cannot wait to see more.
our next venture is to rent a car and drive through the sahara.
we are going to try to send pictures but i'm not sure either jon or
myself is that technologically advanced so it may not happen.
the food is amazing, we pretty much eat tagine, a local stew made
served on fridays.
ramadan begins tomorrow, the same day as rosh hashana. we are
anticipating quite a cultural experience, to say the least.
we have decided to spend the entire month here to truly get a taste
for the country and see as much as we can. we're still not sure how
we're getting home, but we'll figure it out...later.

"Marrakesh Express"
marrakesh is quite an amazing place; indescribable really and with entirely
messed up keyboards; very well near impossible
essentially the town is run by bands of eight year olds who seem to be at
every turn there are burros, mopeds, horsedrawn carriages, insane taxi drivers,
bicycles, pedestrians, and then of course totally confused tourist unsure
about where to take their next step. you know which ones we are. we stayed in an amazing old riad, basically a b&b in the medina. the medina, old city, is utter madness with a square in the middle comprising of snake charmers, veiled women giving henna tattoos, orange juice stands, restaurants, musicians, and storytellers.
there is also a guy who plays music, tells stories and dances around while
still able to balance a rooster on his head.
the souk is a maze of incredible shopping, and well have you know that cara
maintained herself rather well, but not completely jon will have you know
ramadan began and when dinner time hit the streets were completely empty
except for the tourists; most of whom are french.
people try to guess where we are from, the conversation goes something like
espana? italiano? francais? anglais? deutschland? netherlandisch? australia?
canada? extraterrestrial?
the latter was the only response we gave in the affirmative
no one yet has guessed american.
we now head for the sahara in our rented hyundai.

"Rock the Casbah" & "Tea in the Sahara"
so...our road trip to the sahara began with a climb over the high atlas the dark.
we arrived, albeit with a minor cara freakout as we couldn' t find a hotel.
yet somehow we did and ended up in the most beautiful guest house nestled in
the mountains.
we then travelled to various kasbahs (a kasbah is essentially any house that
at one time was occupied either by a noble family, government official, or
served as a military base). they're are literally thousands dotting the
countryside and are difficult to discern as they are made from the very dirt
in which they stand.
similar to adobes they are made out of straw and mud but are much less
durable as the bricks are not baked...okay jon says i'm getting nerdy and
you probably get the picture...
so we went to one that was completely in ruin yet managed to maintain the
harem room which was incredibly beautiful. oh to be a harem woman.
the next kasbah was where gladiator was filmed. jon just kept saying,"are
you not entertained" over and over. he's very funny.
thus our descent into the desert began.
again, we found ourselves driving in the dark unable to find a hotel (are
you sensing a pattern?)
harvedogg (my father) does not understand how two screw-ups such as us manage to find our way in the world, yet somehow things seem to always work out. following with harvedogg's philosophy we ended up staying at one of
the nicest hotels fact it is where hilary clinton stayed.
it was right on the base of the biggest sand dune.
now these are the sand dunes from the movies. the definitive desert image,
if you will.
imagine lawrence of arabia, spaceballs, etc...
it was incredible.
the second night we rode jublee and preparation h raymond (these were the
camels) into the far reaches of the dunes and spent the night under the
stars (actually in kinda nasty tents surrounded by frogs and spaniards)
however we found some very cool italians and climbed one of the dunes in the
middle of the night.
actually jon did, cara only made it halfway...or maybe a quarter.
we then got back into our hyundai and left the dunes for you guessed
it...more kasbahs.
this time we actually stayed in one. again, incredible.
we are now back in marakesh where we spent yom kippur with the small jewish
community here.
it was fascinating and comforting and we met some israelis.
tomorrow we leave for fez.

"Goats Head Soup"
and our (mis)adventures continue...
i saw a goat head lying on the sidewalk whilst jon was making a phone call...hmmm....we are now in fez staying at the most beautiful old house. there is a rooster that lives in the apartment across the way. yes, it lives in the apartment and the constant cock-a-doodle-doo has driven jon a little batty. the proprietors are unbelievably hospitable, it is hard for us americans to understand how people can be so warm and inviting.

fez is absolutely beautiful. it does not have the frantic, insane energy of marakesh. like jerusalem it is built on rolling hills and the only indication of the 21st century are the multitudes of satellite dishes protruding from the roofs of houses literally as old as dirt. yesterday was spent at the ruins of volubilis, one of the largest roman towns in north africa.there were completely intact mosaics and an arc d'triomphe reminiscent of the one in paris (also completely intact).

before fez we spent yom kippur in marrakesh at one of the oldest synagogues in the country housed in a fantastic open courtyard. like most of the houses here it was decorated with intricate mosaic tiling but with the shape of stars of david rather than traditional islamic designs. the only sign showing it was there was a blue stripe on the door. the ceremony utilized beautiful sephardic melodies, each person taking a turn singing. at the end of the service multiple shofars blew simultaneous to the call to prayer signalling the end of the fast of ramadan. it was extremely moving and brought us closer to both holidays. in fact, we are essentially celebrating ramadan as food is scarce to come by during the day.

we don't know where we are going tomorrow (surprise) but lack of planning seems to be our forte and has gotten us thus far. we also don't know how long we plan on staying in morocco, or when (and if...) we are coming home.

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