~ Morocco - Moulay Idriss 2015 ~

Thursday, March 30, 2017
This was about the second place we traveled to on my tour, so yes I am backtracking a bit here. My memory of this place is faint besides the lovely garden we visited (inhabited by many kitties!), the gorgeous blue doors I saw on the way, and the short trek up into the village-Moulay Idriss.

Everyone had the option of carrying their own suitcases up into the village or use a donkey to pull it up. I carried my own up and while it wasn't too difficult (from memory) it would have been much easier with just backpack versus my small carry-on with wheels and all.

Honestly these type of doors are what I expected to see in Greece and Santorini not Morocco, but no complaints!

The overcast made for poor photos but this was a part of the gardens. Not too much was in bloom when I went but it was still nice to stroll around. We also go to walk around and explore the Kasbah des Oudais which was once a fortress overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

We had a small stop at a fairly small cafe. I had my first beef and prune tagine there and omg it was AMAZING! I'll be honest, I never had any type of Moroccan food or any dishes cooked in a tagine before but this was delicious! Your meals are always served with bread and I used that to finish up every ounce of sauce I had left.

I noticed that the tagines in the north were much saucier than the tagines in the south but both tasted really good.

Our overnight stay was in a homestay with a local family. I believe our rooms were on the second floor. Be warned, you have to bring your luggage upstairs yourself. I don't know how people with large check-in cases did it. It was moments like these I was glad I had only brought carry-on with me.

We were given a tour of the village and one of the stops I remember most was the communal oven/baking room. Women from around the village would make their own dough, then bring it to the communal oven to bake. It strengthens the ties within the community and is a great time for people to get together and socialize. If you're wondering how each woman recognizes their own bread, they actually make markingsto identify them!

Lastly we walked up to a vantage point which overlook this small village upon the hill. This village is actually a holy site and there are various temples located throughout the village. The entrances to these holy spaces have a wooden bar fixed horizontally at the doorway thus you must bow as you enter. 

~ Morocco - Ait Benhaddou & Zagora ~

Sunday, March 19, 2017
         One of the highlights of southern Morocco trip was visiting Ait Benhaddau. I had a very hard time pronouncing it. If it looks familiar that's probably because it is- the location has been used in various movies such as Gladiator and is protected by Unesco. There is no running electricity and from memory only a handful of families still live there. Most people live across from the ancient small village where there is indeed running water and electricity.

While it was hot when I was there, I also remember it being very windy which helped with the heat. 

There are small stores scattered around the village selling souvenirs but one of the specialties here are the paintings. You can see in the above photo the man is holding a painting above a flame. The yellow parts are painted with water and saffron but the darker brown parts are actually sugar and water. After painting the paper they hold it over a flame so the sugar and water caramelizes thus producing the dark brown areas of the painting.

I definitely bought some home as I thought the technique was really cool and unique!

Although not depicted here we also saw sights of locals living here such as a young donkey eating away at its hay.

Looking out to the pool at our hotel that night. It was located across Ait Benhaddou and while the pool looked inviting it was actually bug-infested. I found this to be a common problem in Morocco although some places did leave you a net to catch the bugs with. My roommate and I decided to just sit by the pool instead of going into it.

~ Morocco - Aroumd 2015 ~

Sunday, March 12, 2017
         The first stop on the second half of my Morocco trip was in a small village named Aroumd within the High Atlas Mountains. Our luggage's were loaded onto a donkey while we walked 45 minutes into the mountain, the second option was to ride a donkey. The terrain was dry and rocky, the sun beaming upon us from high up in the sky and I was glad I had asked our guide, Rashid to wrap my scarf around my head, Berber style of course, to shield me from the sun. Honestly I would highly recommend anyone going to bring a light weight scarf, it turned out to be one of my most essential and highly used items!

There wasn't much on the schedule besides a hike which left us with lots of time to explore the village. 

It really wasn't until I looked back upon these photos that made me realize how secluded we were and how small the village was. I don't recall many street signs although we did find the public hammam. Some homes had semi-open courtyards which gave you a small glimpse into the daily lives of the people who live in this small town.

Looking down into the courtyard of our Gite. Our accommodation here was very humble with a shared bath among both sexes and a large common eating/gathering area.

Ahhh nos-nos, how I miss thee. Nos-nos means half-half in Moroccan and it's a drink consisting of half coffee and half milk. Writing this post makes me miss the heat of the summer air there.