Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lowell had arranged for a driver to pick me up at the airport. When I landed I expected to see a man with a "Miss Stacey Young Welcome to Marrakech" sign. Instead there was a man with a sign that read "Riad Mur Akush," the name of the hotel. I was hesitant to go with him at first but it was fine in the end.

The initial drive into a new city tells so much about the culture. This particular one was no different. Everyone creates their own lane, mopeds galore and only one small traffic light that I had to look for to see how the driver knew to stop. We enter into the Medina (the old city) passing the large Koutoubia Mosque and the wall that surrounds the old city. Aside from Arabic the common language is French, neither of which I speak.

I arrived at the Riad, greeted by Rakshid and a lovely array of local cookies (mostly made with marzipan) and some delicious sweetened green tea. The Riad was beautiful and I got a full tour of all five rooms, ours being the smallest but still lovely. Rakshid wanted to prove to me that we were the only ones with rose petals spread out on the bed and sink of the bathroom. This was per Lowell's request. I sat up on the rooftop in a swing and began to write until it started to rain again.

As soon as I heard Lowell’s voice downstairs, I quickly ran to the banister overlooking the courtyard. We reunited with lots of kisses. It was probably a good thing that we were the only ones in the Riad that afternoon.  It had been a 20 hour journey for him but determined to push through, we managed to spend the rest of the evening meandering and getting lost in the Medina.

As expected every guy tries to sell you an excursion or “help” you with directions. For some reason they all want to lead you to the main Plaza: Place Jemaa-el-Fna. We actually spent some time chatting with Said, discussing potential day trips to the High Atlas or the Ouzarte Waterfalls. Here I impressed them with my bongo banging, dressed in a typical headdress, which gets really hot by the way.

We headed over to the Terrace de Especies, where we sat in the rain at a covered cabana and enjoyed a simple couscous with vegetable and chicken; which in hindsight was by far our favorite meal. After that we proceeded to another recommendation for dinner, called Maison Arabe. This is a gorgeous, large restaurant that offers a Moroccan menu or an international menu. Initially we sat in the jazz lounge and enjoyed the local lager, Casablanca. A piano player strummed as the Spaniards at the table next to us, belted out Viva Espana.

They escorted us down a hall, a narrow stairwell and to the back of a large empty dining hall. Not only were we the only patrons but the menu was a prix fixe. Not what we had in mind, given we had just filled up on appetizers at the previous place. We opted for their international dining room instead where we could select one or two dishes but more importantly enjoy the preferred atmosphere.

We followed the hosts back up the narrow stairs, down a few other hallways lined with beautiful, Moroccan lamps made of silver and lots of cut outs, leaving an illuminated pattern on the ceiling and walls. We arrived at a table next to the pool with live musicians playing lutes and drumming.

We shared the meat and almond filled puff pastry for a starter and a delicious lamb tagine. It was approaching 11:00PM by the time we left and decided to call it a night. Or at least go back to the room.
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