So not only was last Friday the start of a week off of school for Semana Santa, it was also my Fighting Texas Aggie ring day! WHOOP. So right before Kyla and I left to catch our 4am bus to Morocco, I had a pretend ring ceremony and Kyla let me wear her ring for the day! Unless you currently go or went to A&M, I don’t expect you to understand my excitement.
Since our bus left so early in the morning, we didn’t sleep at all the night before so we could sleep on the bus the way there. The day pretty much consisted of our group sleeping the entire way to Morocco. We rode for a few hours through Spain, took a ferry through the straight of Gibraltar to Africa!!, and then continued the rest of the day until we got to Fes. The combo of not sleeping, plus the Tylenol PM and Dramamine, made us able to sleep just about the whole way there, even on incredibly uncomfortable picnic tables on the ferry. It was impressive. After about 14 hours of traveling, we arrived in Fes. Just in time to eat dinner and go to sleep.
The next morning we left for a day of shopping in the Medina. Our tour guide gave us some advice before we left for the day.
1. Don’t drink the water. Or brush your teeth with the water. Or eat any food from the markets that were most likely washed in the water. Just stay away from the water.
2. When you hear the word “Ballack”, move over because donkeys/mules are coming down the road and they WILL run you over.
3. Girls were supposed to wear our hair in ponytails and dress modestly, because we didn’t want to attract even more attention. I don’t think it really mattered, because wherever we went, we attracted attention. We were a big group of American girls (there were only like 5 boys on the trip), and we didn’t speak the language. But everyone was really nice about it, some old men even said to us, “Hello flower, you are welcome in this country”. How…welcoming.
There were so many cool things to see in the Medina. Some highlights include a cart of goat heads, a hanging camel head, and tons of freshly killed animals ready to be bought and taken home to cooked for dinner. Basically this place smelled great.
Beside the smell, the Medina had some great shopping! The best place was at a local apothecary where our whole group took over the store and the owner gave us samples of everything! Moroccan oil, perfumes, natural makeup, spices, you name it, and they had it. In the apothecary was the first of many times we were treated to Moroccan mint tea, which our tour guides called Moroccan whiskey, because everybody loved it so much. My favorite thing was this remedy to clear your sinuses, which was some ground up powder wrapped in fabric that you would inhale. They would come around and plug one side of your nose and you would inhale the substance on the other side. I realize as I’m writing this that it sounds super sketchy, but I promise it wasn’t. It was just really funny to see everyone’s reaction. I’m really glad I don’t have a picture of my face, because it was NOT cute. I started coughing and tears started flowing, basically like this picture of Kyla.
After the apothecary, we stopped by the tannery to see how leather is dyed. It was really cool to see, but smelled awful. Luckily, they gave us fresh mint to smell so it wasn’t too bad.
After the Medina, we went to a very old giant house where they now sell Moroccan rugs. I had heard that it was very popular to buy rugs from here, and that lots of ISA students came back with African rugs, but I never thought I would get one. I was wrong. It all happened very fast, I saw one I liked, Kyla helped bargain, and now I have a really great souvenir!
We ended the night with some Moroccan entertainment at a nearby hotel. There was music, dancing, belly dancing, and a lady that ate fire, what more could you want?
Part 2 is coming soon! It’s all about the Sahara, and there is even a video!