It is hard to leave the Riad Adriana this morning. It is hard to leave Morocco...
The drive back to Casablanca today is 150 miles. I take more photos from the car, trying to grab more of the landscape in shots that I would ultimately discard. We check in to the Hotel Barcelo, the hotel that marked the beginning of our trip nearly 3 weeks ago. Brenda and I will fly out after midnight tonight, but the hotel is a nice base to take care of any last minute travel needs. After a sleepless night, I welcome a bed and a nap.
Dinner tonight will be at Mohamed's home. He drives us by his restaurant, and circumvents much of the downtown area to arrive at his flat. His apartment furnishings echo those we had seen elsewhere ... low couches running without break along white walls, with a center table and small wooden end tables that double as dining room chairs. He has prepared tagines, and a huge plate of fresh fruit for desert that he would turn into delicious smoothies which offered a soothing finishing touch to his masterly prepared feast.
It's time to go. Mohamed drives us to the airport, and Doug follows us in to try to make sure I reunite with my errant luggage. He suddenly encounters a stop point, and waves us goodbye. That begins my back-and-forth 45 minute post-midnight jaunt between the lost luggage department, the ticketing desk, a misdirect to a separate ticketing desk which is closed, and then a redirect to the one that is open, where I pay an extra baggage fee and receive my boarding passes. Three more compliments from men ranging from 20-something to 50-something on my jeballah (which I'm wearing to assure that they make it home with me), but look quizzically at my hat and say it looks Chinese. Finally, I catch up with Brenda, and we both wait for our 1:40 AM flight to Frankfurt, where we would catch our respective flights to Canada and the US.
Arriving in Seattle, I raise a few eyebrows at US Customs, until I relate how my luggage was lost and I had to buy new clothes, which elicited a laugh and a "no wonder you look like that" from the young guard who let me through without further question. Marie meets me at the passenger pick up, and drives me to a store where I buy a salad and fresh fruit. Then it's home to cats whom would have my undivided attention for the next three days...
"I did not see the things I expected to... and I saw what I never expected to see..."
You never see or get to everything you want to on any given trip. I saw the set for the Kingdom of Heaven but couldn't get close enough to touch it. We missed the Archaeological Museum in Rabat and the Arms Museum in Fez, and the Maison Tiskiwin (Berber museum) and Bahia Palace in Marrakech. I saw the Atlantic but did not get to walk on its beaches. Seeing some of the world's largest mosques but not being able to enter them was a little disappointing.
I saw things I never expected to see. The magnificent architecture of the Kasbah Amridil in Skoura. The Atlas Studios in Ourazazate. Yves Saint Laurent's memorial in Marrakech, and the centuries old bakery in the souk there. Books on the shelves at the Qarawiyyin Library in Fez. The antique store in Taroudant. The Todra Gorge.
There were experiences that defied expectation. Feeding monkeys in the Forest of Cedars. Walking barefoot in the red sand dunes of the Western Sahara. Riding a camel. Weaving on carpet looms in two different cities. Posing on the set of "Return of the Mummy." Tea and dinner in personal homes. Sleeping in historic riads and kasbahs. Doug sharing a YouTube video with Berber camel men around a fire in the Sahara under a sky pierced with a multitude of stars. Turning lost luggage into an asset, Being mistaken as Berber a couple of times.
Unlike my visit to Istanbul where I bought every Turkish cookbook I could find, I have not taken up the cooking of Morocco. But on weekends, I dress Moroccan in my jeballahs and leather slippers, and burn incense of a morning like they did at Kasbah Moyahut and the Saharan camel camp. I line up my collection of "red sand movies" which play on my VCR in a continual loop. I am looking for a carpet loom, and a course on learning Berber. I am still pouring through notes for future blogs on Berber culture, Moroccan agriculture and Islamic architecture. And I continue to muse on a new line of hats inspired by this journey.
Morocco is an exceptional country to visit and I am already planning to go back in 2020 for a customized 8-12 day tour of the Erg Chebbe Dunes and the Atlas Mountains. I'm looking for about 8 people to go with me. If you are interested, please click here to contact me.
For additional special interest photo collections not linked to previous blogs, please see:
With special thanks to Doug Baum and his Texas Camel Corps tours, who made this experience possible.