Thursday, April 25, 2013

Morocco


April 25, 2013 6:30 AM—Casablanca

Yesterday at 4:15 in the morning I finally flew away from Uganda for the last time. My first flight was pretty uneventful, but the second one was awful. So first I flew from Entebbe to Cairo. When I got in the Cairo airport I just felt the need to buy something from Burger King even though I wasn't really hungry and it turned out to be a good thing that I ate a little something there. My second flight was from Cairo to Casablanca and it was supposed to take about 5:15 hours. It had to have been the worst flight I've ever been on. There was pretty bad turbulence for about the first 4 hours of the flight. Now I've only gotten sick on a plane once before and it was due to turbulence, so I was really afraid I was going to throw up at some point. Luckily I made it threw without blowing any chunks, but it was definitely a challenge. Let's just say I'm glad I don't have to fly again for another 2 months. There were at least 3 people around me getting sick, including the guy next to me. When they were serving lunch I really wanted to take some motion sickness medicine that I got before leaving Kampala (I actually got it for the ferry but I was glad I had it on the plane in my carry on), but the flight attendants kept getting distracted whenever they were going to serve us drinks cause they kept getting more air sick bags for people, so I kept getting put off. Finally I got lunch and a sprite, I took the medicine, ate a little, and I didn't get sick. The last hour of the flight was pretty smooth until we started descending. The way the pilot descended into the airport you would have thought he was trying to make people sick. He kept dropping suddenly so I would lose my stomach a little. Again I was worried about getting sick and I managed to keep everything down.

I finally got to Casablanca and got through customs by about 1:30 PM. I took a taxi to my hotel and we drove all through the city. This place is awesome! My hotel is right near the main port in the central medina. When I arrived I took a shower and a 45 minute power nap. My hotel room is also amazing! I got a private room with my own bathroom and I have an amazing view out to the water. Sometimes you really have to love poor countries, because you can get awesome services for cheap prices. Unfortunately, most of the accommodations for the rest of my trip probably won't be this nice.

The view from my hotel room

So after I napped I decided to explore a little. I walked down parallel to the water. I was going to go get food at Rick's Cafe, which is based off of the movie Casablanca (cliché, I know), but they didn't open until 6:30. So first I walked all the down to the mosque. The Hassan II Mosque is the third largest mosque in the world. It was beautiful. It is right on the water, so you can see the waves crashing up against it. It is in its own huge piazza (so to speak). There were so many people wandering, playing, strolling and swimming. So I wandered around for a bit before walking back. I intend to try to take a tour of the inside this morning.







Then finally I walked back towards my hotel and had some dinner at a small cafe. Now one of my biggest challenges here in Morocco is that I don't speak any French and many people here don't speak much English. So when I went into this cafe, the entire menu was in French, but with some help from my waiter I ordered an assortment of kebabs (chicken, beef, lamb, and pork) and french fries. It was amazing! After eating I came back to my hotel and promptly passed out. With the time difference, 7 PM felt like 10 PM and I had traveled all day on little sleep. So needless to say, I slept for about 11 hours solid.

Now this morning, after breakfast I'm gonna go back to the mosque and try to take a tour. After that I have to unfortunately leave Casablanca and get a train to Fez, which is further north and more inland. I wish I could stay another day or two put sadly I have to move on. Only two more days in Morocco, but so far, so good.

April 25, 2013 8:15 PM—Fez

This morning after touring the inside of the mosque, I went to the train station to get a train to Fez. When I got to the station and bought a ticket, I realized the train was leaving in about 15 minutes. So I had awesome timing!

The train ride itself was about 4 hours. Maybe this train ride was amazing or maybe Uganda has just lowered my standards. I haven't been on a train in over two years, so it seemed awesome. I had my own seat that was actually big enough for me. I had a foot rest and a tray table. There was even air conditioning on this train too. For most of the ride, nobody was sitting next to me, but about an hour before we arrived in Fez a guy sat down next to me and started talking to me. It turns out he works with Peace Corps volunteers here in Morocco. So not only did he have a lot of good tips, but he also set me up with his uncle who was basically a tour guide.

After dropping my bags off at my hostel, I ended up running all around old Fez in a bit of a whirlwind tour. I saw everything from the narrow streets of the medina, to the mosque, the university and the tannery. It's a shame that I don't have more time to spend here, because Fez is really something else. It is the oldest city in Morocco and to give you an idea, the part of the city they call the “new city” is 700 years old. I even started to learn a little bit of Arabic today.

The narrow streets of the medina

Local clothing

The mosque

How they wash before praying

From what I understand, this say "Allah"

The tannery

Tomorrow I may or may not explore a little bit more of Fez before heading up to Tangier. Either way, I will eventually be taking the train all the way up to Tangier tomorrow so I can take the ferry on Saturday. It's been a quick stay in Morocco, but its totally worth it. I just wish I had more time.

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