Roaming Morocco

Trip Start Aug 25, 2003
Trip End Jul 18, 2004

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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Meknes, Olives, and Sausage

Not wanting to rush around our last few weeks of travel, we decided it was time to leave Marrakech. Our next stop along the way was the city of Meknes. What drew us here was the reported laid back atmosphere (meaning no chance of another Fes incident). Meknes turned out to be a noisy not-so-quaint city, full of loud, pollutant spewing traffic due to the Medina being so small (we thought this was a good thing at first - no chance of getting lost). The one thing we did find in Meknes was the best olives I have ever had. I don't even like olives and I couldn't stop eating until I could actually feel my blood vessels constricting from all of the salt. First, Sarah and I just got enough olives for a quick snack. Then we went back for enough for a large snack. Then next morning we went back before we left to get a gallon bucket full - this one was going home with us unless customs took it away. This added to the other stuff we had picked up in Marrakech which included a large leather bag, a 4 foot tall stretched skin lamp, some barbeque skewers, and various other items I can't mention because I don't think we've given out as gifts yet. Morocco was our last cheap stop so we went a little crazy with the buying. So after the olives we were carrying one large backpack, two small backpacks, a skin lamp, a bucket of olives, a leather bag full of gifts, and, at most times, a bag of various food snacks. People could probably pick out that we were Americans from miles away.

Oh, the only other notable thing a bout Meknes is that I had a fried sausage that I am 90% sure was camel. Not too bad.... they smell much better cooked up than live and in person.

Back in Fes

Yes we went back to Fes - not to see the Medina. Nope just for a little more last minute shopping. Yes, for some reason we thought didn't have enough to carry. We remedied that problem.

Chefchouen and the Splif... I Mean Rif Mountains

Our planned stay-a-few-days-in-one-place place was Chefchouen. We had heard how beautiful, laid back, and relaxing it was and thought it would be a good final place to rest up before returning home. Turns out it is also extremely touristed (well, for Morocco), but for good reason - the city is extremely charming. Chefchouen consists of beautiful buildings all painted Mediterranean blue, and when a meandering street dead ends the entire street is painted blue to let people know before they start walking down that path. It is situated in the Rif Mountains, which we didn't explore too much since most of the mountainsides are used for marijuana farming. Chefchouen turned out to not be everything we have hoped for (I think I was hoping for another Cameron Highlands, Malaysia) so we left after a few days for Tangier (giving us an extra day in Granada!).

The ride from Chefchouen to Tangier took us through more of the Rif Mountains. The scenery was incredible, at one section of the mountains clouds were pouring over the mountaintops, and down the mountainside, only to dissipate about half way down. This was happening slowly enough that you really had to watch closely to see it happening.

Why Didn't We enter Morocco Here? (Tangier)

Somehow I think that we were extremely misled when we decided to enter Morocco through Melilla. Tangier is probably the most European looking city we have visited in Morocco. The city is clean, getting to the ferry was easy, AND no touts, insane or otherwise. What more could we ask for? Plus, the ferry ride was only two hours! We took it across the Straights of Gibraltar to Alcacerias and went straight to the bus station to catch a bus to Granada. While in the bus station we ran into a Swedish guy that was staying at the hostel we were staying at in Rhodes. The weird thing is that he was just walking by - he wasn't even taking a bus. These unexpected run-ins with people happen more than you would think.

Ahh well, the experience of going through Melilla may have been rough, but I bet we'll never see another boarder crossing like that again. Then again maybe we will.
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