My first time in Africa started rather miserably, I was vomiting in various spots around Madrid on my way to the meeting point before when embarked on what seemed like an eternal journey in bus prison. I decided to do the trip through Be Madrid, which I highly reccommend, as everything is already organised for you.
In saying this, the ridiculous journey was all worth it when we arrived in Chefchaouen, the beautiful blue city. Walking around the streets was breathtaking, the whole town was blue. I could have spent so much longer there just wandering the streets.
After a few more hours in the bus we arrived in Fez where we had our first taste of the Moroccan markets and attempting to barter. I had become a bit rusty since my last bartering experience in China and I probably got ripped off, but I got some lovely jewellery and souvenirs. By this point I had also managed to develop a throat infection, great timing with my once a year sickness. Thankfully I had come prepared with antibiotics and could start taking them straight away, so I was only miserable for the first day (strategically place travel tip; always bring medication for EVERYTHING).
Another travel day in bus prison (which was actually quite a comfortable bus) led us to the magical Merzouga desert and wow was it worth the trip. With a brief stop to play in the snow (what snow in Africa?!) we eventually arrived in the desert to our humble abode in tent city as we called it. A great concept and amazing experience but make sure you wrap up with at least six layers and padding if you’re going to be sleeping in the desert, as it gets so cold at night and can be rather uncomfortable.
Waking up in the desert was amazing, seeing the sunrise from behind the dunes. We spent the morning climbing dunes and taking in the endless view of the desert. I could have sat up on the dunes all day just taking in everything around me, but we had camels to ride.
The camel riding was such a fun experience, despite the sore bottoms at the end. We were traveling in what the guides called a ‘caravan of camels’, basically they were all linked together. Once we were into the desert a bit more we got off and ran up and down what seemed like the biggest dune in the Sahara, but it made me feel like a little kid again, rolling down hills. It was amazing to finally experience the sun and the heat after my two year winter, and feeling the sand in between my toes.
Our next stop was Ouarzazate, where we stayed in the Ibis Hotel which was really nice and I highly rate the buffet breakfast. We got to explore the sand castle town of Ait Ben Haddou, which was used in a Game of Thrones episode. One thing about Morocco, is that everywhere we went people were trying to sell us things, whether they were little souvenirs or handmade carpets. Oh and cats, there were cats everywhere.
Our last city was Marrakech, which was the biggest city we went to and it kind of reminded me of India, seeing whole families on the back of a scooter. But Marrakech is a beautiful city with palm trees everywhere, and it was hot! I actually got sun burnt for the first time in years. The main attraction of Marrakech are the huge markets, which can be a tourist trap if you aren’t careful. I was played, a henna lady grabbed my hand and said for free, for free and started drawing but after I pulled away she was wanting 300 Dirham. I’m not really into animals in captivity, and especially not into monkeys on leashes in the market, that was a little shocking to see, and I would definitely not be paying to take a photo with them. Overall, the markets were amazing and I wanted to buy so many things to decorate my house with but lets be honest, how would I be getting them back to New Zealand or wherever I move to next.
My Morocco trip was such an amazing experience, despite the bus rides and my sickness, I still had the best time, with the best group of people. I’m so glad I got to experience a new continent and a new culture. I love to travel and I’ve been hit by the travel bug pretty bad, if only my bank account allowed me to travel 24/7.