Morocco was amazing. I was really excited for the camel trek I signed up for, and it was definitely one of the most interesting adventures I have ever been on... but we'll get there in a minute!
The first day I signed up for a "Casablanca City Orientation", which I honestly could have done independently of SAS, but it was still very cool (and hey, I didn't have to worry about transportation!). We walked through a Medina, stopped at the Mohammed V Square (a fountain and public garden), and visited the Hassan II Mosque- a beautiful blue, green, and white mosque on the edge of the sea that looks like something out of a fairy tale. We also did a little shopping and wandering around in Casablanca. Here's me, Katherine, and Leticia awkwardly trying to get the mosque in our selfie:
I didn't want to go back to the ship without having tried Moroccan food, so me and my friend Leticia signed out of the program and asked the guide where the nearest restaurant with authentic Moroccan food was. We ended up at a place called "Restaurant Les Fleurs" where I had lemon chicken Tagine, which was absolutely amazing. Morocco and Japan won for best food. Seriously, just look at this:
Lemon Chicken Tagine with potatoes and olives.
Tagine is named after the pot it is cooked in, which look like this:
I got this picture off Pinterest, since I didn't get a good picture unfortunately. Before I got a chance they whipped away the top to serve it!
Also, Arabic and French where some of the top languages spoken in Morocco. I took two years of French in high school but the only thing I could say was, "Je ne parle pas le Francias", which means "I don't speak French". I think they understood me, so I guess that's something? Anyway, the first day was a success and we made our way back to the ship after dinner, but not before stopping at the rail station for Starbucks and Free Wifi.
The next day was the beginning of my Sahara Desert camel trek adventure. The trip was very popular and there were three groups/buses of SAS kids. I got lucky and was with quite a few of my friends, which was good considering this was our last trip with SAS and required a 10 hour bus ride. It may sound strange, but it was not a bad drive at all. Morocco is the kind of place where listening to music and staring at the passing scenery is anything but boring. Before you know it, hours have gone by and you're waking up from the kind of trance that only something truly beautiful can induce.
Not a bad view at all!
The day also included multiple stops for food and mint tea, which Morocco is known for. The restaurant we stopped at was obviously meant for tourists, but it was still beautiful and the food was great (more Tagine and Couscous). There was also dancing and drumming as we ate.
We finally ended up at our hotel and left again for dinner shortly. There was way too much food, but it was still very good. We ate a dish that was meat with a sweet pastry topping. It doesn't sound good, but it somehow worked. We were full quickly though, and ended up playing that game where one person puts a word on their forehead and has to guess what it is based on everyone's hints (I think it's called Head's Up, and someone had the app on their phone). It was a good night, and I was excited for our camel trek the next day.
The next day we ate more delicious Moroccan food, bought some 5$ head scarfs, and set out the camel trek. For most people, getting on the camel was accompanied with a little surprised scream as the camels lurched forward while standing up. I was on the camel holding my group's stuff, which didn't turn out to be such a bad thing since I had a place to put my camera when I wan't using it (they strapped my backpack on the front handle).
It was windy and the headscarf did help while it lasted. It unraveled about halfway through the trek- I learned later how to properly tie it myself. It was a bumpy ride, and I was surprised when I woke up the next day sore. I tried asking the man leading my camel what the camel's name was, but he either didn't hear me or didn't care to answer. My friend Zabrina and I ended up giving our camels temporary names; hers was William and mine was George- We then decided they had to be 'Prince William' and 'Prince George' since we both ended up giving them such royal sounding names. Here is a slideshow of pictures from the trek:
Upon arrival, we were greeted with more Moroccan mint tea and cookies. I then learned from a friend how to properly tie my head wrap and we walked to the top of huge sand dune to relish the sand being blown in our eyes while watching the sunset. We then more or less slide down the dune to our tent where we played cards while drinking a little wine before dinner (Hey, we had to celebrate our last port!). Then, we walked toward the bathroom on the way to dinner when it happened. Somehow, someway, my friend Brittney fell and broke both of her ankles by falling over a rug-covered step leading to the bathroom (Of course, we didn't know that they were, in fact, broken at the time).
My friend Kayla took this. Note the random guy in the background, and us holding the sticks. and the head scarfs. What a weird night.
I didn't end up making it to dinner. We called for help and ended up loading her into a car on top of some pillows and rugs set up for her, after finding sticks in the middle of the desert and wrapping her leg in the head scarfs we bought earlier. I decided to go with her and ended up riding in a car through the Sahara Desert while holding ice on her foot. We made our way to a hospital, where they
X-rayed her foot (Misspelling her name Buttney), and put a stitch in her toe (the guy was pretty hilarious about that also. He kept asking her if it hurt and poking her toe even though she kept saying yes).
We ended up staying the night in Zagora, a town we briefly stopped at on the way to the camel trek. We stopped and got yogurt and cookies as our dinner at around 2am. The only room available was at the top of a flight of stairs, so that was interesting... On the bright side, we made a new friend that accompanied us named Karim (We also had an Rd join us) and we all had some interesting/bonding talks while driving through the desert and whatnot.
Karim later showed us pictures of his wife. Apparently in Morocco brides can have many different dresses during their weddings to represent the different cities in Morocco. His wife had something like seven dresses, each of them decorated ornately. Another lesson learned is that Moroccan health care is free. The stitches and X-rays were completely free, even for foreigners. Although Karim did say that the paid hospitals provided better care (so I guess you get what you pay for).
The next day we had breakfast and met back up with the bus to begin the trip back to the ship. Me and some other friends stayed on the bus later since Brittney couldn't get off and had lunch on the bus (it was nice of the restaurant to bring food out!)
My friend Caroline!
Later in the day the bus stopped another hospital to drop off Brittney (who had to go see a specialist) and she ended up having to stay in Morocco due to her broken-ankle status. She was transported back to the ship later to get her stuff but we didn't get to see her before she left sadly. We kept in touch though and made sure she was in our alumni ball pictures anyway:
The last day my friend Caroline and I did a little shopping before getting on the bus back to the ship. The bus was playing "Harry Potter and the Golbet of Fire" on the way back and despite the good movie choice It was kind of sad. That night, we set sail to our final destination and I couldn't believe that my Semester at Sea adventure was soon to be over. One of the seven seas (My friends and I named ourselves the seven seas) was gone and the end was near. Yet I wasn't unhappy.
Morocco was one of my favorite places. I had heard horror stories, and didn't expect to feel safe at all, but I was surprised at how nice all of the people were that I met there. The camel trek was still amazing, and while collecting sticks for my friend's broken ankles in the middle of the Sahara Desert I got to see the stars, which were breathtaking. I had such a short amount of time in Morocco, but it did not fail to make an impression. I know i've said it before, but this time I really mean it: I will go back to Morocco!