Morocco: The Lively Land

Itinerary:

  • Fes – 1) bus tour of the town.  2) walking tour of the Fes el Bali medina.  3) cooking demonstration at a riad
  • Volubilis (ancient Roman ruins)
  • Rabat – quick drive-through and lunch
  • Meknès – Les celliers de Meknès, a winery
  • Kenitra – bus tour with lecture by Ibn Tofaïl University professor
  • Casablanca – quick drive-through and pit stop at the Hassan II Mosque
  • Marrakech – the Djemaa el Fna market square

Lively is the first word that comes to mind when i think about Morocco.  It is called the land of contrasts, with its tall mountains and flatland, volcanic rock and sand, cedar and eucalyptus, cars and donkeys, jilbāb and western clothing, sunshine and fog.  Orange and olive trees lined every street, with some beautiful jacaranda and eucalyptus trees dotting the village.  There were cats everywhere, some wandering through medina alleyways, others napping in the afternoon sun.  Stray dogs trotted around the village in small packs, rummaging for food.  Donkeys grazed on the hills under the sweltering sun.  Arabs, Berbers, mixed Arab-Berbers, Jews, and some French went about the town, speaking Arabic and French, carrying plastic bags in their hands and baskets on their heads, and riding bikes, donkeys, cars, and motorcycles.  Everywhere you look, whether it’s an isolated alley or a busy street, there is life, and it is colorful.

Perhaps the most amazing part is that nature is still thriving and untainted in Morocco.  Merely an hour drive out of Fes brings you to the most glorious mountains, with fields of lime green, wild flowers of orange and yellow, wide skies without a single cloud, and the bluest lakes you’ve ever seen.  The sun soaks the scenery, fog lingers on mountaintops, and the faintest shadow of the big, wide moon hangs in the daytime sky.  It was all so beautiful, i wanted to cry.  Then i really did cry because there wasn’t a loved one beside me to share it with.  

But the purpose of the trip was to study the food.  It’s not surprising that Moroccan cuisine is the third best in the world after French and Chinese.  Succulent and clever is the best way to describe it.  Succulent because most of the dishes are slow-cooked with sweet and spicy seasonings, and clever because it strikes the perfect balance of flavors and textures in ways unimaginable.  I don’t particularly enjoy writing about food (maybe because eating is such a sacred experience for me), so i’ll just link to this old entry of mine on my food blog, which describes some dishes that my classmates and i made.  Take the experience described there and multiply it by a hundred times, and that’s just about what eating in Morocco was like.  Oh, and i had (and made!) real bisteeya, and it was out of this world.  

In short, the trip was amazing and ended too soon.  I will surely revisit, but hopefully i won’t gain three pounds again.  
 

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Filed under culture, food, nature, sketches

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