I am inspired by Sha’s blog to write about one of my most exotic trips ever: my Summer 2003 trip to Morocco.
I have really not written about it enough. The trip was before this blog came into being, and so this much-delayed write-up. Just reading Sha’s interesting experiences in different parts of Europe, made me realize how ka-gigil it is to read up on travel experiences. And then I remembered Morocco. How could I have not written about it ever?
Anticipation & Arrival
I remembered being really nervous about our trip to Woody’s birth country. It was the first time I would meet his family and by this time we were engaged and they would be my permanent in-laws soon. There was so many things to worry about: traveling in Africa, in an Islamic and Arabic country. I asked endless questions: would I have to wear a burka or cover my head with a scarf at all times? Where would we sleep? What was his family like? How would I talk to them?
But then it was time to find out. I can’t remember the day by day details anymore. But I remembered a phrase Woody taught me, and which I used as soon as I got to the Casablanca airport parking where a little boy begging for money accosted us. Mandish floos! I shooed the boy away. It means No money. His brother and sis-in-law, as well as his aunt had picked us up, and they all laughed heartily at my attempt at Arabic.
From Casablanca, we drove I believe 2.5 hours towards Rabat, where his parents had bought their new apartment. His parents’ apartment is not in Rabat but I forget the actual name.
It was a whirlwind of meeting. I met his father and my dear belle-mere (french for Mother-in-law), his other sister M, and baby Ali, his nephew. I was really charmed by so many things immediately, the apartment setting, the warmth of his family, his mother’s shy and beautiful smile, their chatter. They hadn’t seen him in two years by that time I believe! I also picked up quickly on how easily french crept into their vocabulary. Just like English in our Tagalog.
For example, we of course had tea almost immediately. In order to tell his father, who was master of the tea ceremony always (and a very good one at that), I learned to say Suffit! which is short in French for Ça Suffit, or That’s enough.
I believe we had dinner a few hours later. For the rest of the trip I would be really stuffed. I had thought that going to a non-American setting would give me a chance to eat less, not more. We were literally eating around the clock and the food was always fresh, always home-made if served at my in-laws. The bread would be freshly baked each morning by Maman, who woke up earlier than anybody else. My biggest regret is not taking enough pictures of the food. Moroccan cuisine is superb.
It was time for bed, and his family was gracious enough to give us one room all to ourselves.
The next morning was when I took these pictures. Their apartment had a bathtub, hot water, charming Moroccan furniture.
The whole apartment where we stayed was really very comfortable. They had hot water in the spanish-style bathroom, with a bath tub. There was also this funny-looking thing which i thought was a bidet, but it was actually where you wash your feet. Important thing to do before praying.
Here is Maman, baking bread.
And here I am giving it a try!
Rabat & Tetouen
We toured Rabat, where hubby grew up. I really enjoyed taking photos and walking around his old haunts. I’ve written before about how we toured his old martial arts school, old neighborhood. Everything about Rabat was exotic simply because I had never seen anything like it before.
We went to the souk, the outdoor dry goods market where you can buy literally ANYTHING. A must-visit. This is where your bargain skills will really come in handy. Good thing we didn’t have to bargain. Woody’s old college friend owned a stall at the souk, and he closed his stall so he could take us around and bargained for us at the shops we wanted to buy from. Believe me, there is nothing like an insider bargaining on your behalf. My fave finds were the little poufas, leather footstools that you can unzip and fill with whatever filler you’d like, and the Moroccan wooden goods which are so fragrant and beautiful. When we told his family what we paid for them, they were bug-eyed and impressed.
The latter part of our trip, we went to Tetouen, in the northern tip of Morocco, to enjoy a free stay at a beach villa and enjoy the sun and water. I really enjoyed myself. The beach was literally a minutes walk from the 3 bedroom villa, it was clean, warm, and fun.
The food was excellent, as always. Sis-in-law was always making crêpes, and there was always salad, good bread, seafood (we had a fruit-du-mer pizza one time, or seafood pizza…delicious!). We also tasted the nightlife by going to dinner and a night-club. The music was surprisingly to my liking, and the women were gorgeous.
There is this strange mix of European and old-world/strict culture that reigns in Morocco. Even more pronounced than let’s say Philippines. Everywhere I saw women without covering their heads, wearing sexy outfits. Sis-in-law and bro-in-law revealed that one needs to be careful, as mixed among the sexy-looking women were prositutes. But some of them were just modern. I couldn’t tell the difference.
Here are photos of Rabat:
Sunset in Rabat.
And of Tetouen:
My henna tattoo
Posing by the beach.
I left earlier than Woody. I only stayed 10 days, which is woefully inadequate. Woody stayed another week. On my flight back, I was literally crying in the plane. Just chalk it up to misery about being without Woody, having to end my vacation so soon when it was thoroughly enjoyable, and also a bit of hormones.
By the time I arrived at JFK International Airport in NYC, I had gotten over it. I was jet-lagged already and just wanted to get home. It helped that I didn’t have any trouble at customs. The agent just looked at my tank top which proclaimed that I was a Cowgirl and Loves it, and asked me if I really was. I gave him a smile and told him yes.
Anyway, mission was accomplished. His family liked me, and I them.
It’s been 3 years since my visit and then some months. I want to go back, this time see Marrakech and maybe even Fez.