A Travellerspoint blog

Morocco

Greetings from the Spice Capital of the World

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Hey everybody,

We arrived in Marrakesh, Morocco (aka Spice Capital of the world) today after a long day and night of traveling. Our plane left from Bamako a little late last night (it was supposed to leave at 2:30am but really left around 4), so we only got about 2-3 hours of sleep in the terminal and plane. Immediately after getting off of the plane at about 7:30am, we boarded a train at the airport that took us to Marrakech by way of Casablanca. The train ride was long and we were pretty cramped and sleepy, but we met some interesting people. We even got a chance to speak some Spanish again as we sat next to a couple from Equatorial Guinea, even though we found ourselves saying "oui" instead of "si" at times, and even throwing in some Bambara...

We rested this afternoon and walked around the city of Marrakesh some. Our hotel is right downtown, just a few blocks from the famous spice (and other stuff) market. We're planning to go there tomorrow. I'd like to buy some spices to bring home, but I'm not sure they'll make it through customs. Anyone know? I won't buy any strange white powders, maybe just some red and yellow ones. We'll see.

Anyway, the city is very nice. It seems more European than Middle Eastern. It has a lot of big fancy buildings, nice restaurants, and good hotels. We found one for a good price that has a wireless connection nearby that we have tapped into. Tonight we took the opportunity to sample a Happy meal at the local McDonald's. We were excited at first for burgers, but about halfway through we remembered that McDonald's really isn't that good. Oh well, it was a good time.

So tomorrow we look forward to checking out the market and renting some bicycles to ride around town. We'll spend tomorrow night here too, and then fly out to Barcelona the next morning at 11am.

Hope everything is going well at home, and we'll talk to you again soon!

Love,
Mariel and Ben

P.S. About the promise of photos last entry: I had a really hard time uploading them, the connection was very slow, so there aren't any new ones now. I will try to get them up if I can in the next week, otherwise they will certainly all be posted when we get home to Iowa. We'll let you know on here!

Posted by vagabundos 15:09 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Well, not quite the last night after all

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Hello again,

We thought we'd update our loyal subscribers :) and let you all know what's going on with us tonight. We were supposed to leave for Bamako, Mali tonight, but when we arrived here at the airport, they told us that airline workers in Bamako are striking, so there are no flights in or out of the country. They say the strike should be over tomorrow or the next day, so we are hoping they're right. We can't find much info on this on the internet (any news would be appreciated) but it doesn't sound like too major of a thing. In the meantime, the airline has put us up in a very nice hotel near the airport with room and board on them, so we are not struggling or anything. The next flight (if the strike is over) is tomorrow evening at 11pm. We'll let you know what's going on as we do!

Mariel and Ben

Posted by vagabundos 14:54 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Last day in Casablanca

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Hello all,

We're hanging out in the internet cafe again (in case you're in Casablanca, it's Apollo Cafe and they have great banana juice); we come here enough to email that they know us and shake our hands. Sadly it's probably our last visit, as we leave for Bamako, Mali tonight. The flight is at 11pm, so we will start working our way toward the airport via taxi and train at about 6 or 7. The flight will get into Bamako at 2:30am or so, and Dr. Bagayoko (most often Dr. B) of Medicine for Mali will pick us up then and take us to our host, Fanta's, house. She gets a lot of visitors from the US, as her husband was in Nebraska at a university for awhile. Mariel has been working on learning Bambara, the local language in Nana Kenieba, and Ben's French is getting quite good (Mariel's is slowly coming along). Our stay here in Casablanca has been great. We've tried lots of interesting foods and drinks (with no negative repercussions) and seen some interesting sights.

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The Hassan II Mosque, 2nd biggest mosque in the world! It holds something like 105,000 people. This place is gigantic and very pretty.

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Here's the stairway inside our pretty cheap hotel. There is pretty tilework like this everywhere, so that's one stereotype about Morocco proving to be true. One that isn't is the wearing of full body covers by women. Some wear headscarves and long robes, but it seems like most women our age stick to jeans and tops like Mariel wears. Al-Jazeera is on in about every coffee shop, though. That may have been expected.

And just because we didn't post any pictures the other day from New York City, here's the standard "I went to NYC" shot:

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Hope everyone and everything back home is going well. We miss you and love you!

Mariel and Ben

Posted by vagabundos 07:06 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

The Journey Over

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Hi all! We thought we'd better say hello from sunny Casablanca, Morocco! We arrived a few hours ago and are lazing around in the hotel before getting some dinner and going to bed, early. It has been a long 2 days. We spent our 10 hour layover at JFK in New York walking around the city and saw some interesting sights: 5th Avenue, Central Park, Times Square, Madision Square Garden, etc. Our flight on Royal Air Maroc from NY to here was comical. We sat on the runway in the plane for 3 hours before leaving, and weren't told what was going on. Ben was zonked out quickly though, from Ambien, and Mariel had a book to finish anyway. They had good dinner and breakfast for us.

So, we are in Casablanca and have no specific plans until Monday afternoon, when we leave for Bamako, the capitol of Mali. We will just be relaxing and frantically checking mcat scores daily until it's time to get to work. Ciao for now!

Posted by vagabundos 10:49 Archived in Morocco Comments (1)

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