I MADE IT TO MOROCCO SAFE, SOUND, AND WET.
I’m just too excited about Morocco right now to even think about blogging about London. And it’s dark and rainy in Marrakesh so walking around the city is not ideal and it’s only 7pm.
This has already been one of the best weekends of my life. Nothing huge has happened, but the sheer fact that I’m in MOROCCO, AFRICA does it all. Since I didn’t leave until today (Friday), I had Thursday night to hang out in Madrid. We took advantage of the free night and went to Kapital!!!! We were all super excited since we’ve been denied the last 2 times we tried to go. (When I say we I mean me, Jess, her friend who was visiting, Rachael, Hannah, Sam, Marshall, Syd, Jenny, and Angela). Jenny knew someone who got us in without the line. It was fabulous. Since we were there pretty early we found a couch and lounged a bit before making our way to one of the 7 dance floors. We met some Spanish friends and made conversation when it started to get crowded and we moved to the main dance floor. It was crazy! There were go-go dancers on the stage, a saxophone player, and even some random people who just jumped up there to dance. I had a blast dancing all night. The craziest part was whenever it started getting too warm; they shot cool air from a cannon at the crowd. We danced till almost 3am before everyone was all out of energy. I was glad to end the night a little early so that I could get some sleep before leaving for Morocco.
I was a bundle of emotions today. I woke up and finished packing. The entire time I was in the airport I was a melting pot of emotions. Excited, nervous, terrified, ready, and everything in between. I started getting nervous at the gate because I didn’t hear a single person speaking English. I had been banking on meeting someone on the plane. Everyone was either in a large group or a couple. So I boarded the plane hoping someone friendly would sit next to me. A Spanish woman took the seat adjacent to mine and had no hesitation in starting a conversation. She was familiar with Morocco and visited numerous times. She assured me that it wasn’t dangerous and that everyone was actually very friendly. We spent the next half hour talking about Morocco. In Spanish may I add. I felt like I was on top of the world; traveling to Morocco solo and having a real life conversation in Spanish.
Our plane landed and I was beside myself. I had just landed in AFRICA. WHAT. I was nothing but smiles as I walked into the airport. My smile slightly faded when they didn’t even stamp my passport. I was looking forward to adding to my skimpy collection. My smile was quickly restored when I walked out of baggage claim to a man holding my name on a sign. Cross that off the bucket list. I knew he was from the tour group, but I was still a little on edge, I mean I was on a different continent. We started driving and he played cliché Moroccan music. My driver was all over the place. I don’t think he knew where my hostel was. So our first stop was the tour office where I paid for my trip tomorrow and was provided with a map of Morocco. I was a little shocked when they showed me where they dropped me off compared to where my hostel was. I was under the impression that they were going to take me straight to the hostel. Turns out that the street it’s on is too narrow for cars. Before I could pay for my tour, I had to find an ATM. My driver literally just pointed to a building and sent me to go get cash while he said he’d wait right there. I frantically ran across the street, still fearful of the rumors of Morocco’s safety, and collected my dirhams, which I love because 1 euro is almost 12 dirhams. When I got back to the corner where the driver was supposed to be, I wasn’t the least bit shocked when he was no longer standing there. A nearby tour company decided that the lost look on my face was their opportunity to ring me in. For a second I thought it was the same company and was a little confused. A Moroccan man was leaning on the wall behind me, seeing my struggle, and told the other tour company to back off. I was astounded; that was not what I expected to happen at all. When I still couldn’t find the driver I walked the half block back to the tour office and found him waiting inside. Crisis averted.
Now it was back to the car so that he could drop me off near the hostel. The streets are mayhem. People on scooties dodge cars left and right, immediately followed by honking. As we approached the narrow street, it became obvious that cars would not fit. It was maybe 10 feet wide lined with stores as far as the eye can see. It was everything I pictured it to be. But he dropped me off at this super narrow street and told me to just go straight for 5 min to the hostel. Not even 2 minutes into my walk a man asked me where I was going and said that he could take me there. I read in my travel tips that people who do this expect you to pay them afterwards, so I told him I didn’t have money to give him and walked away. 30 seconds later he came back telling me that he would take me there for free. I was hesitant, but I also didn’t want to risk getting lost when it was raining and getting dark, so I followed him. He took me off that path that I was supposed to just go straight on and I got a little nervous. I started lagging behind him more and more. He definitely noticed my hesitation and when we arrived at the door he pointed to the correct address and the “hostelbooker.com” sign before ringing the doorbell and letting me in. Another crisis averted.
THE HOSTEL. IT’S FABULOUS. Everything is so Moroccan. For starters, the door is so cute and little that I have to duck to get in. You immediately walk into this open room with colorful couches and pillows everywhere. The second I walked in I was told to have a seat on the couch and was offered the traditional Moroccan tea. I already don’t want to leave.
The walls are brightly colored pictures of camels, trees, and other Moroccan things. It’s perfect. And everyone hangs out in the huge, open common area sipping on the 24/7 free tea. You literally can’t be sitting here for more than 10 minutes without being asked if you’d like some tea.
The staff are some of the friendliest people I’ve met. They pointed out places to visit on the map and it only made me wish I could stay here longer. As I’m sitting on the couch typing this, one of the workers came over and put a pillow behind my back so that I was more comfortable. I don’t even get treated like this in the US. This is fabulous. People have been flowing in and out of the common room all night, mostly people who speak English. I’m realizing that I live in a bubble. Everyone in the hostel is so chill, hanging out playing cards, and talking about how they’ve been visiting all over Marrakesh. Why does everyone think it’s a war zone? My impression is that it’s nowhere near the danger level people think it is. I’ve been chatting with this guy here on and off. Not too long ago he turned to ask me if I was hungry. I was super worried about eating here. I actually planned on just snacking on the muffins I brought from home. Because I didn’t know where to even go to get food and wasn’t about to venture outside in the dark/rain by myself, I was filling myself up with tea. Another guy in the hostel had come back with this delicious looking sandwich, so we asked him where he got it. I ended up going with the man I had been chatting with to this food stand less than 2 minutes from our hostel. It’s invigorating walking down the street. This is a whole new and incredibly different culture that I can’t even grasp. I ordered my sandwich that ended up costing less than 2 euros and devoured it. I couldn’t even tell you 100% what I was eating and I was perfectly ok with that. All I know is that it was delicious.
I can’t even fathom everything that has happened in the past 12 hours. Although I wish that I had friends here to share the experience with, I couldn’t be happier that I took this opportunity. This is going to be one of the best things that will ever happen to me. I’m the luckiest girl in the world.