[The views expressed in this post are my opinion.]
So, this isn’t the usual blog post about parenting or marriage, or crafts for kids, etc. BUT I just can’t help but to tell you about my recent trip to Morocco with my husband. We recently celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary and spent a week kid-free in Morocco!
It was beyond incredible and truly a trip of a lifetime. Initially this trip was meant to be a surprise for my husband, but I blew that pretty quickly – however he let me continue planning it from start to finish without any input from him. This was a big deal since he’s an engineer to the core and really enjoys planning and executing major events, like traveling! Also, he had some concerns since the last major vacation I planned I accidentally had us fly to the wrong island (we won’t go into those details now….)
Needless to say, the pressure was on to plan a seamless trip and one that we BOTH could enjoy. That might sound simple, but my husband and I tend to have different tastes in travel. I’m all about (affordable) luxury and he’s all about getting in with the locals as much as possible – so sometimes, depending on travel location, this gets tricky! I am not always a fan of giving up "luxurious" amenities, like AC or Wifi, but I have learned to embrace some of his travel methods, and have found appreciation in experiencing a country and culture more so when willing to forego some amenities. This trip I knew needed to have both of our tastes covered. After months of planning, September finally arrived and we were headed across the Atlantic!
To ease ourselves into Morocco and offer some relaxation after flying, I had our trip start at a beautiful resort in El Jadida, about an hour from the Casablanca airport we flew into. The resort was stunning. We were warmly welcomed and immediately greeted with “Happy Wedding Anniversary” from the hotel staff, and even some sweet surprises in our room (rose petals and Moroccan desserts). From this point, we spent two days adjusting to the time change, relaxing by the pool and beach, eating the most delicious food, and of course sleeping in – which we hadn’t done in what felt like centuries! We celebrated our anniversary with a traditional Moroccan meal (Moroccan salad, fresh dates, tajine, cous cous, and fresh fruits) along with mood music and lighting, which made for a truly wonderful evening.
After our time at the resort we made our way to Marrakech! From here on out, our schedule filled up fast and moved at a very quick pace – just like the city of Marrakech! We spent one day/night in Marrakech before embarking on a three-day tour heading out to the Sahara Desert. We made the most of our brief time in Marrakech visiting the Saadian Tombs, Palace Grounds, and the Souks (markets). We saw the famous, beautiful Moroccan tile and pottery, snake charmers, drank fresh squeezed orange juice, ate plump dates, & both successfully and unsuccessfully haggled in the souks. In Marrakech, our senses were on overload and our nerves a little jittered from the busy-ness of it all, but we eventually steadied ourselves and found a way to take it all in. It wasn’t long though before our driver, Rashid, was waiting at our hotel door to lead us on our next adventure, and we began our journey to the desert.
We climbed the mountains at a racing speed, as I’m convinced we had the fastest driver in all of Morocco (and the best)! We stopped at a number of spots to take in the mountain views, mingle with the locals, learn about Moroccan history, and continued to eat the most amazing food along the way, tajine dish after tajine dish! I’m not sure how many miles we covered, but in the process we made a friend for life. Our driver, Rashid, was not just our driver, but also our local tour guide, shopping guide, and our Moroccan Google knowing all things Morocco. He is a father of three to two boys and one girl, and married to a woman who he told us he asked to marry him the first day he met her randomly on the streets of Fez. It was pretty amazing to hear a Moroccan love story as we looped up and down the mountain roads. Rashid made us laugh, and sometimes passing around trucks on hairpin curves made me cry, but mostly he made us feel so welcome in Morocco. He taught us about Berbers, and mountain villages, and translated all the signs carved into the mountains we passed. We talked religion, we talked family, and we learned more about each other as we ate lunch together almost daily. He helped us to avoid shopping scams and brought us to local merchants where we could find authentic Moroccan gifts and support local communities in the mountains. We will never forget him, his kindness, his stories, and warm smile. We hope to remain friends for a long time.
We eventually made it to Merzouga, a town at the tip of the Sahara Desert in Morocco. We were greeted with tea, as we were everywhere, and then headed out for our grand desert experience! Our two-hour camel trek led us into the desert for a night among the stars and dunes. The dunes were incredible, breathtaking, and you couldn’t help but let all your worries and cares slip away, rolling over the hills of the dunes headed for the horizon. I can almost cry thinking about it. I equally can cry thinking about the pain of riding a camel! Let’s just say that life experience is a one-time only deal! It makes for some great photos, but camel riding is not glamorous nor in the least comfortable. I am grateful though to my camel, Jimmy, who carried me to camp that night and didn’t decide to give up on life that day ;)
Our evening in the desert included another amazing Moroccan meal followed by traditional Nomad dancing and drumming. Afterwards the camp settled down for the night, and all became still. I wish I could describe the peace of the desert. The stillness and quietude were unimaginable. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life & holding hands with my husband, and looking at the sparkling night sky is a moment I will never forget.
We awoke and camel trekked to the perfect spot to watch the sunrise. Then I left my husband high and dry for a jeep ride back to town because I seriously couldn’t ride the camel anymore. With bruises and soreness in unspeakable places, the tour owner’s jeep looked like a golden chariot that I couldn’t pass up! (My husband totally understood) :P
After hot showers, breakfast, and one last look at the desert landscape we met back up with Rashid who whipped us back to Marrakech in 8+ hours, and our thoughts started to drift to our homecoming. We took in a final sunset over the mountains and one final candlelit, kid-free, scrumptious Moroccan dinner.
The next day we made our way to the airport, and after about 5 levels of security, and battles of bathrooms and upset stomachs, we powered through the long flight back. Arriving home to three sweet babes asleep in their beds filled our hearts, and without waking them we snuck some hugs & kisses in before resting our own tired heads.
I imagine we dreamed of desert dunes, mint tea, and all the beauty of Morocco that night (& maybe even some camels). So until we meet again Morocco, thanks for the memories!
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