Tuesday, February 10, 2009

And Finally....Morocco!

So, in the right hand sidebar, now you will see pics of Morocco - click and take a look if you like!

Morocco was difficult for us to navigate. We didn't do any trips out of Casablanca except for Rabat. I think in US terms, that might be like visiting Tacoma or some other port city. It isn't like there was anything wrong with Casablanca, but it had an industrial feel since we didn't really get out very far. Morocco is rumored to have a beautiful coast, lush foliage, impressive views from the peaks of the Atlas mountains, and sparse deserts. That's the part we missed, so certainly don't base your decision to visit the country on our experience.

I took a day trip to a Hammam, sort of like a sauna/spa. The hammam experience was excellent! The best part was grommage, or in simple terms, having all of the dead skin loofahed off of you. Sounds gross...sort of is gross if you think about it too much...but my skin felt great and looked amazing afterwards!

We tried to navigate Casablanca on our own without much success. Many of the Petit Taxis tried to negotiate special "tours" with us at ridiculous prices, which is a frustrating experience with the kids. We would get in a taxi, refuse the ridiculous price, get out of the taxi while Abi cried about "Why can't we ride in that red car?", and hail another taxi. We did manage to make it to the Hassan II mosque, second largest mosque in the world and named after the recent monarch of Morocco. It was completed in the 90's, and is an impressive structure. (There are pics in the sidebar!)

Also less successful with children was the bartering at markets. We wanted to get Abi a little princess outfit. Abi picked out some shoes and a little dress thing at the first store and the shop owner wanted 900 dihram (roughly $112 USD) for these two things. At first I thought it was a joke, as I had been caught off guard by some other Moroccan humor. But, when Luke offered 30 dihram (roughly $3 USD), they asked us to leave the store. Then we had to pry the shoes out of Abi's hand and try to explain a new concept called "bartering", which at that moment mostly involved us taking something she wanted away from her, which we had promised we were buying her, while she screamed. After a few more visits we found what we wanted at a price we could work with, but I definately realized that the barterning game is a lot more fun without toddler in tow. We'll have a bit more bartering to do as the trip progresses. Hopefully by the time we reach Shanghai she'll develop a better poker face.

The most amazing experience we had in Morocco, by far, was a dinner with a family. At first we were hesitant to participate because Moroccans don't eat dinner until 8pm, and the meals typically lasted until around 11pm. Typically staying up that late leads to a toddler meltdown. Luckily, our family had a flatscreen TV and tons of kids movies. Lily slept on their bed and Abi went between the TV and the other students that were spoiling her silly. In the meantime I engaged in a real adult conversation with a beautiful Moroccan woman that had lived in Switzerland for eight years. We talked about politics, family life, and motherhood while Luke smoked with the men in another room.

The dinner consisted of a traditional tagine with saffron-scented beef, nuts, apricots, and dates, and a plate of couscous with vegetables and lamb. It was a delicious meal! It's traditional to bring a small gift. I read that the traditional gift was "something sweet from home", so I sacrificed two cans of Dr. Pepper to the cause. The children loved it, and the general consensus by adults was that it was a "woman's drink". Who knows, maybe the next time we go to Morocco I won't have to bring my DP's from home!

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