After some coaxing from a few friends we decided at the last minute to make the 240 Km (150 mile) drive to Marrakesh from Casablanca. There were six of us going, and when we disembarked we were disappointed to find no guide waiting for us. Hoping that security had not let them onto the pier, we started walking towards the port entrance when we saw three vehicles racing down the pier. One of them was a nice sized passenger van, and Jim said, “That one won’t be ours.” Imagine our delight when the guide jumped out and opened a sign with “Debbi” written on it.
Abdul introduced himself, then the six of us jumped into the 13 passenger, air conditioned van and headed for Marrakesh. Jim and I both expected Morocco to be like Egypt-sand and large pigeon coops. Surprisingly the entire drive went through an agricultural area where they grow wheat, prickly pear, and some sparse corn. There were numerous shepherds with small flocks of sheep and a few cattle, but no pigeon coops.
Some places planted the prickly pear so they created fences when they grew.
After three hours we entered Marrakesh.
Abdul asked if we wanted to ride camels, and we all said no, but he insisted we at least go look at them.
Next he took us to the 1000 year old mosque. It always amazes me how some structures can remain standing after so many years.
Across the street from the mosques was the main square where we saw snake charmers, monkey charmers, juice vendors, and water porters, which are old men, dressed up in colorful costumes, who walk around and sell a cup of water to drink (or a photo op). Just like Egypt, anybody who lets you take their picture expects to be paid one euro.
At 11 AM Abdul told us we needed to go to lunch. As we walked to a little café we told him we didn’t want to spend a lot of time eating. The manager told Abdul it would be ready in 15 minutes, so he told us we could wander around while we waited. As it turns out, we weren’t done with lunch until noon.
After lunch we walked back to the square and into the souks, which is a maze of small open shops. Everybody but Jim and I did some shopping, which took up even more time since bartering is required to buy anything.
We saw a group of girls getting some henna tatoos. One of them was going to get married later in the week and it is a tradition for her and her bridesmaids to get the tatoos.
When we came out of the souks I walked over to one of the snake charmers to have my picture taken with a non poisonous snake, as I sat four feet away from a couple of cobras.
By two o’clock Abdul said we needed to start back to Casablanca. I was a little disappointed because I thought for all the driving and hype we would be able to see more in Marrakesh.
It only took 2 ½ hours to get back to Casablanca, so we had some time to see a few things.
The first place we stopped was the Grand Mosque. It is the second largest mosque in the world, the largest being in Mecca. It was an incredible building. It was closed, so we were only able to see the outside.
It was a popular place for boys to swim, surf, and jump off of the wall.
The last stop was Rick’s Café. Rick’s Café was featured in the movie Casablanca, however it was an imaginary place, and the one that exists now was only built recently.
It was a good day, and we can say we’ve been to Casablanca and Marrakesh.