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Marruecos Marruecos Montando Mi Camelo

November 16, 2010

Day two in Morocco started out with my favorite breakfast of the past two and a half months that I have been here.

That’s not really saying much (except when compared to those Lisbon pastries), but being someone with big breakfast traditions and a mild-to-moderate pancake addiction, breakfast is important not just for the food or whatever. In Sevilla, I have plain yogurt (that has this really weird texture) or lately, three oranges that I take with me and eat at my leisure. This doesn’t bother me at all. The oranges are delicious, and I don’t really give myself more time in the morning. But in Morocco, we were supposed to be down at breakfast by 7:30 and there was this whole spread of stuff. There were little croissants and some round flaky sticky pastry, this little corn bready cake, other bread products. But what I had both mornings was this square crepe like thing with all these layers that was really hard to cut with a fork and knife. I asked the waiter what it was, and the name was in Arabic, of course, so there was little chance I would ever remember it. But he explained it as bread with olive oil. It tasted kind of like corn bread, but the texture was totally different. I put cream cheese and honey on it and…. mmm. I could have eaten them every day.

There was tea, of course, but after Amy said that it tasted like cigarette smoke I realized it really did and couldn’t drink it anymore. There was also coffee and – the best part of all of the hotel buffet breakfast beverage stations I have been to on this trip – warm milk. I have never been a milk drinker. But since I have been sick, I have drunk a lot of warm milk with honey. After I completely lost my voice on Friday, I drank cups and cups of warm milk Saturday morning. So simple! So delicious!

I’ve missed breakfast.

After my fifth or sixth cup of milk, we got on the bus for the 2 hour ish ride to Asilah. We didn’t really have a tour there. They just dropped us off and told us to go look at the ocean and shop. That was really the focus of the trip: shopping. Which I understand. There were a lot of souvenirs to be purchased. But I hate buying nicknaks for people that they don’t really want and will never really use. I definitely bought plenty of stuff. But I didn’t waste my money and bartering time on keychains or cheap bracelets.

I’m sorry if you wanted a keychain.

Asilah was beautiful. The walls were all white (the color of peace) and the doors and some of the ground and a few walls were bright blue (the color of Allah), matching the sea. The coast was beautiful. But it was pretty empty, and quite obviously the tourist summer home town that it is.

After Asilah we had lunch at a restaurant looking over the point where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic meet. There was a salad that none of us were really sure we should be eating (it was washed with Moroccan water, after all, and I was not eager to repeat my Peru experience), and then… I have no idea what it was called. It was a little bit like a giant meaty samosa, but the outside was thinner and sweet. The inside, though, was still spicy and savory and there was just this great contrast. I couldn’t have eaten the whole thing if I had wanted to, but it was delicious. And followed by fruit and finally cookies and tea.

After lunch I bought my hat (!) right in front and then we went to las Cuevas de Hércules (the Caves of Hercules) that were really pathetic in comparison to Aracena last weekend, which was what I was expecting. They were cool, though. There was a little window where you could see the ocean. But there were also even more vendors inside and a man offering to dress you up in traditional clothing and take a picture. We left pretty quickly – without being explained why these caves were really important or why they were named for Hercules – and went…

…to….

RIDE CAMELS.

This was kind of what I had been waiting for. There is no explanation for why I wanted to ride camels so badly. I really don’t understand it. We pulled up to this big dirt circle on a cliff overlooking the ocean where there were four camels, a few toothless men, and another man with mostly camel-themed souvenirs to try to sell to you. The camels were to very excited, obviously. There was one little baby tied to the ground so it couldn’t stand up all the way. I tried to befriend it and it tried to eat my shoe.

We went in groups of four riding around this dirt patch on the camels. It was fun. Those things are tall. But it was also a little sad. Up-down-around-down-up-down-around-down-up all day long. The camels had really big calluses  whereever their bodies touch the ground – on their stomachs and all over their legs. And they were obviously very unhappy. I tried to give them as much love as possible.

After camel riding, we rode the bus to Tangier, which was really the only city I had heard of before I went to Morocco. And it was definitely a big city with tall buildings and well-maintained roads. We went directly to the market area, but even there you could tell Tangier was a different place from the other cities we had visited. The shops were much, much more expensive and filled with knock-off purses, shoes, jerseys, watches, anything. It was kind of gross. This one shopkeeper kept following us around. We talked to some nice people, though, and looked for a shirt big enough for Charlotte’s dad.

The communication was interesting in Morocco. The official languages are Arabic and French, but our guide spoke Arabic, French, English, and some Italian and German – I am sure I am forgetting a few. Almost all of the shopkeepers I spoke to could communicate at least some in English and Spanish – save one man Amy and I bought cous cous, tea, and apricots from in Chef-Chauen (all of them in large quantities and for less than what the apricots would have cost themselves in the U.S.).

We went back to the hotel from Tangier, ate something I can’t remember (hotel dinners were pretty forgettable, but the soup was pretty good), watched the second half of Resident Evil: Apocalypse (in English with Arabic subtitles) and fell asleep easily.

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