Never thought I would say this, but I wish I spoke French.
My first impression of Morocco was the RAK airport in Marrakesh. It was beautiful and spotlessly clean. Even the airport food smelled delicious.
The bus driver spoke Spanish and English well enough to help me with tickets and directions. I am surprised to find English is more prominent that Spanish in a country that I thought spoke Arabic predominantly, followed by French and Spanish, with English a distant fourth.
French is everywhere. My cel phone messages come in French. The signs are all in French and it is spoken on the street as often as is Arabic.
I want to eat everything! The smell of the food here is wonderful! I was hoping to get back to eating sparse vegetarian meals after Italy, but I may have to change that up and really take in the local fare.
The city isn’t all roses, though. The park next to Djemma el’efna smells heavily of urine. The usual beggars are out in the street, and everyone wants money for something. That being said, I feel rather secure walking the streets and alley ways thus far.
My riad is like something out of a movie. To get here, I have to wander down a couple tight little alleyways that are usually peppered with people just standing around and cats doing cat things. The interior is amazing. It is a huge courtyard decorated with wonderfully foreign things and encircled by rooms filled with people from all around the world. I feel like I am in an Indiana Jones flick.
My cell number is now +212 0626918969 through a company called Inwi. I almost bought an iPhone while I was out tonight for 10 euro. You can buy anything here. I’ve been offered hashish at least once an hour.
Electricty is hard to come by, but this and all the other small quirks are things I am prepared to deal with. I am a little let down, there is no WiFi in the hostel as was advertised, but that really isn’t much of a shock.
Everything is wet. I left Rome in the midst of a pummeling rain storm. The walk to the bus and then to the terminal soaked everything, so my room is a menagerie of everything I own splashed across every available surface drying out. J
Exchange rate is around 8 dirham to a dollar and 11 dirham to a euro. My hotel tried to charge me 3300 dirham instead of 330, and I almost paid him. That sort of thing is important to know.
There are a number of Spanish speaking people staying in my riad, but I haven’t had much time to talk to them. I feel tired tonight, but happy. I don’t know what I will do tomorrow, but I am leaving for Essaouira the day after tomorrow, so I’ll have to make it count.
There are no locks on any of the doors and no locker in the room, so I will have to pacsafe my bag and lock the zippers of anything I leave out. I’m not saying anyone around here is untrustworthy, but fool me once… you know the rest.
Hotel Ali is pretty close to Djema el’efna and they have some great food, can do currency exchange, and are quick with directions and things, so in a jam, head there. The tourist police office was helpful too. They pulled one of their garbage collectors off duty and before long it was me and three local guys winding our way through the crowds to get to my riad. It worked out well.
I’m excited to be here. Not sure what comes next, but I’m ready.