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Cam & Suz’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005

Location: Morocco

MapAs we set foot on the Moroccon city of Casablanca, something that became immediately obvious (esp to Sue) was the coffee shops. We passed about a dozen or so and there was not a female to be seen... only men sitting with their seats facing the sidewalk as if they were watching a movie. This was to become a theme in Morocco as in the 2 weeks here we have had little contact with the women. Morocco is vastly different to the countries we've visited so far. The Muslim religion infiltrates every aspect of daily life and the prayer calls sung from the mosque minarets across the cities 5 times a day are impossible to ignore. The silence in the streets following these calls while they pray is a world away from the buzz just minutes before.
We visited the more traditional city of Fes and laid back town of Meknes exploring the alleys of their old town 'medinas' and declined many invitaions to visit the carpet shops. An overnight bus ride down south took us to the Sahara. That was simple enough, although making our last 10km proved to be a major challenge with many 'helpers' telling us various stories depending on their motive... to drink tea in their restaurant, to get commission from a hotel, or a cab driver who insists there is no other alternative. Once in the sand dunes of the Sahara we could relax (just a little) watching the beautiful sunset and sunrise across the red sand to the Algerian border. We teamed up with our new spanish and czech friends to attempt the onward journey - surely 4 was better than 2! Limited transport due to Ramadan left us waiting for about 4 hours but again... eventually... we were on our way and met anotyher 2 travellers to strengthen our bargaining power. With 6 people, the ideal number for a 'grand taxi' we negotiated our price - still probably 3x the amount locals pay but at least we were moving! We saw a beautiful gorge and the Kasbahs of the south which are structures built with red clay from the river banks, some dating back to the 11th Century. We saw where Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia and the new blockbuster The Sheltering Sky were filmed.
Unfortunately for us our acquired espanol is of no use in Morocco as only French and Arabic are spoken, hence getting a fair price on anything is impossible! Our advice for anyone coming to Morocco is to sharpen your senses as most Moroccon men will eat you for breakfast! Its definitely a country where tourists are seen only for how much they can extract from you and the seemingly innocent 'Where are you from' we learnt is a calculation on their part on how much money you have to spend and how stupid you are. A very interesting place that for sure but not one for shrinking violets.
With our last couple of weeks nigh we are looking forward to catching up with friends and family.