Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Morocco: Day 3 & 4 Sunrise in the Desert and a Cookie Miracle

DAY 3 
The next morning we woke up at dawn to see the sunrise over the desert. It was an incredible sight.

After breakfast, we mounted back up on the camels to ride back to the pickup station. This time, we had a private tour with just the three of us and the guide. We took a different route back out of the desert. It was such a cool experience, one not to be missed if near the Sahara! Our trek through the desert had come to an end. Unfortunately, that meant the forever long return car ride back to Marrakech.

Once we made it back to Marrakech, we had yet another problem finding our new hostel (where we stayed the first night wasn't available). This hostel was again very close to the Jemaa el-Fnaa Square, but the address provided on the hostel directions didn't exist (of course not). We had the right street name, but the number didn't match. We walked up and down that street, searching for the number listed on the confirmation email. Unable to find this number anywhere, we wondered if this was one of those situations where the street randomly picks up again somewhere else. This was in the middle of the busy Souk markets. The roads were quite narrow and people were pushing their goods in wheelbarrows. Needless to say, they did not like having us taking up precious road space with our suitcases wandering around. Like the first day of our arrival, plenty of men kept offering to take us where we were going, some even getting really offended when we declined. We had the address and were on the right street, so we didn't think we needed a 'guide'. After asking a police officer for help (he didn't know), we ran into some young boys who said they knew the way. Doubting they actually did, but too frustrated to continue on, we agreed to follow them. At least this seemed safer than following a grown man somewhere unknown. Their English was pretty good- it was obvious they had been rehearsed to say the right lines to lost tourists. They asked us how we liked Morocco and assured us they wouldn't charge, "just for free we take you." We were counting on paying them anyway, we just wanted to arrive at the hostel. They took us down several wrong streets until arriving exactly back on the same street we had walked up and down 50 times. This time, I saw the name of the hostel (not the right number), to which the boys quickly shouted out that they had found the place. Although technically they didn't really give us much help, we each pulled out several euros worth of dirham and thanked the boys. The older boy looked at the money in disgust and semi-yelled that this money was nothing and that we had to pay them some absurd amount, something like 100 euros. We stood shocked, reminded them that they took us for 'free' and that we didn't mind paying a reasonable amount for an 8 year old. As the scene started to escalate, we walked inside, hoping the boys would take what they had and move on to the next unsuspecting lost victim. But no, they followed us inside the whole way yelling and stomping their feet. The big hostel guys, obviously used to this routine, had to kick the guys out. Well, so much for another easy journey to our hostel. Geez, I kind of half way worried they'd come back for us in the night, them and their roving gang of preteen street guiders.

We had another evening out in Jamaa el Fna , eating street food and haggling with vendors over Moroccan lanterns. There were cookie vendors with huge carts of traditional cookies that you bought by the dozen. We picked out our dozen, hoping to eat them on our flight home the next day

Day 4
On our final day in Marrakech, we only had a few hours to explore. We walked to the Koutoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in the city. For anyone who has been to the World Showcase in Disney's Epcot Park, this is the mosque represented for the Morocco exhibition. We also walked across town to another mosque that the guidebooks said you could enter, but this one was closed for reconstruction. On our way walking to the second mosque, the bells began ringing, signaling the hour of prayer for the Muslim people. It was really interesting to watch groups of men put down mats and start praying along the sidewalks. Unfortunately, our day was going fast and we had a flight to catch.

When we returned back to our hostel to pick up our bags that we had left while we were out, we noticed something missing. The cookies! All three boxes! We went back to our room, asked the front desk, who asked the maids.... Nobody had seen the cookies. But how do 3 dozen cookies simply disappear? Yeah, I think someone was snacking on those things all day. Disheartened, we left with only the luggage. We desperately hoped we could find the cookie vendors in the plaza, but it was too early and they weren't out. Then, something magical happened. At the exact moment we were exiting the plaza to catch a cab to the airport, the cookie guy from last night rolled right in front of us. We probably looked like crazy people, but we ran to his cart and physically blocked his way. In a super rush, we begged for a box and filled those suckers up with new selections. Not believing our luck, we happily took those dang cookies back with us to Spain. What a trip!

Bye Bye Marrakech!

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