It’s no secret that Trav and I love to eat, especially while traveling. We love trying local specialties when in a new place and venturing away from the typical tourist eateries. When we first left home for three months in South America, we simply accepted we would get food poisoning at some point there. It seemed inevitable. So imagine our surprise when seven months into our around-the-world journey we had yet to hug a toilet. Enter, Morocco.
We kicked off our two-week Moroccan adventure in the small coastal town of Taghazout to go to another surf school called Berbere Surf Camp. The waves were unseasonably big so we spent the first day eating half the ocean (well, more so me than Trav). It was a well run operation and we met some really fun people from Canada and UK. Everyone stayed altogether in the same building and had nightly, family-style dinners on the roof under this big tent. Except after our second day the stomach bug hit both of us in full effect in the middle of the night. I’ll spare you the gory details but let’s just say getting sick simultaneously with one bathroom is NOT a #couplegoals we planned to achieve. Poor Trav had been so excited for surfing that even at 4:00 am after being up all night, he asked, “so… do you think surfing is off the table for this morning?” Always the optimist that guy.
We had to cancel our last day of surfing and then left for Morocco stop #2 – coastal village of Essaouira – still in rough shape. I’d love to tell you how awesome Essaouira was, but I basically spent our two days there holed up in our room sleeping and streaming The Good Wife (thank you Amazon!). The irony is we spent more than usual to stay in a resort with the goal of using the gym and pool facilities buuuut that didn’t happen. Thank goodness we were there though because a comfy bed and the ability to order toast from room service is just what I needed.
Luckily, by the time we got to Marrakech I felt semi-human again. We stayed in the medina (old city) part of town in a Riad which is kind of like Morocco’s version of a B&B. Riads are traditional Moroccan residences converted into guest accommodations. They have an indoor “courtyard” in the middle which all room windows look out to which historically was so women while home couldn’t be seen by the outside. Our Riad had a great rooftop terrace where breakfast was served each morning. Also, it was right in the bustle of the main market area, known as the “souks.” You can buy pretty much anything but you see lots of stalls selling teapots, traditional pottery dishes, women’s burkas, fabric, spices, etc. We wasted no time jumping in to start shopping and checking out the chaotic scene. Picture thousands of stalls packed closely together with people everywhere and motorcycles whizzing through the narrow alleys. Even the occasional donkey roamed through. In the middle of the souks is the big open Jemaa el-Fnaa square filled with food vendors, henna artists, women giving massages, and street performers including snake charmers with king cobras. Most of the nearby restaurants have unassuming entrances that show just a staircase and you wonder what you’re getting into. But if you go up they lead to beautiful rooftop dining areas above the souks with views of the city. It was always a nice reprieve from the craziness of the market!
And of course while there we enjoyed a lot of Moroccan tea. The Moroccans are very serious about their tea. It is brought out in metal teapot full of fresh mint leaves and poured your table. They hold the pot high above your small glass (no teacups) so while pouring it creates lots of bubbles as it fills up. Someone told us that true Moroccans will refuse to drink it if it doesn’t have enough bubbles.
Stay tuned for part 2 covering our time in the Atlas Mountains and overnight camel trek in the Sahara desert.