Saturday, 10 January 2009


I can say with hardly any doubt that the trip I took last month to Morocco was the best trip I've taken, ever. It was a holiday of just about 10 days, and took me from the red-walled bustle of Marrakesh to the serenity of the roman ruins near Meknez to the chaos of Fez, then down along the cost to the friendly, laid back feel of El Jadida and Essouera.

If I could give advice to everyone going to Morocco it would be to PLEASE go alone, smile, keep your wits about you but let down your guard and talk to people. Take public transport, no matter how late or grubby. Recognize that for every person trying to take advantage of your tourist cash there is another just trying to be friendly.

Im not even sure were to start. Long train or bus rides were always accompanied by friendly chats with the person in the next seat. On four or five different occasions random people bought me tea, breakfast or lunch, or took me walking through their towns. I was there for the off-season, so the weather was cold, but the people were more than warm enough to make up for it.

I was the only girl traveling alone that I met, which is a pity since it is so safe for girls. Though this is true in the majority of the Arab world, the thing that's special about Morocco is their continued tolerance and affection for Jews. While Jewish museums and quarters in Europe are testaments to the dead, there is still a vibrant community living in Fez and Casablanca. The Jewish community in Morocco has been present since pre-Islamic times, and is still well respected among Moroccans.

I arrived just before the holiday everyone referred to as the "sheep festival", during which every family in Morocco comes together to slaughter a sheep in memory of Abraham's sacrifice in Genesis. Because many Moroccans no longer keep sheep of their own, there was a huge amount of bustle and creativity on bringing sheep home - check out this beautiful example of the worst way to transport a live sheep! I luckily had my tickets home for the day before the festival itself began, I'm not sure I could have stomached the actual slaughter. In some ways it felt like the days before Thanksgiving in the US or Christmas in the UK, with everyone rushing home to spend time with their families.
This was an absolutely amazing trip. Easyjet flies there, so noone has an excuse not to go!

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