Morocco was the first African country that I set my foot on. I had been looking forward to it for a while and now that it became a reality I was rather surprised to find out that it is actually more of an Arabic country than the Africa of one’s imagination. And I guess in a lot of ways for me it turned out to be a land full of the unexpected.
Diverse and visually captivating
In all honesty, I didn’t hope to discover so much history and culture as I did. Morocco is a visually captivating country with the faded charm and colours of the narrow market streets of the medinas and the peaceful riads that are an inspiration for any interior designer with a liking for oriental architecture and the stunning handmade details.
Nor did I anticipate such diversity in nature. From snow-capped Atlas mountains to barren Anti-Atlas, from rocky desolate landscapes with tiny palm oases to awe-inspiring Sahara dunes, from idyllic argan tree meadows with the infamous tree-climbing goats devouring their daily meals to the shores of the wild, windy Atlantic and so on.
Naturally I also didn’t expect the staggering contrasts of the highly religious muslim society and the somewhat impulsive behaviour of the locals. There seems to be a bit of a mixture of colonial french arrogance, the pride of nomadic ancestors, the cunning of the merchants of old caravan roads and a welcoming host deep-rooted in every Moroccan.
A woman covered with a burqa from face to toe streaming by on an old Peugeot motorcycle is not an unusual sight, just as women with no face veils or even any headscarfs. Men stroll around in their dwarf-hooted overgarments that soften their otherwise firm features and conservativeness with a touch of humour.
Trek, surf, camp or drink some tea
There is a certain degree of discord hidden in the overall picture and after a few weeks of traveling there, it started to seem to me that the kingdom is going through some changes trying to find a new Moroccan identity in the modern way of life. This is further emphasised by the flocks of tourists flying in every day, challenging the past beliefs.
Yet, overall it is an amazing place to come across. How many countries are there in the range of a 3-4 hour flight from Western Europe where you can camp under endless desert skies, surf the ocean waves and trek the mountain villages? Or dine in a Michelin star restaurant and eat a Berber tajine on the medieval-looking streets for a few euros?
It seems that the answer to almost every question in Morocco is to drink a glass of hot mint tea overloaded with sugar and treat the future events with a certain degree of nonchalance. After all, there’s no point overthinking it and being too fixed on plans. “Insha’Allah!” or “Allah willing” as the Moroccans tend to wrap it up.
Top experiences in Morocco
- standing in awe on top of the Saharan dunes
- walking in the labyrinths of Marrakech medina
- discovering the centuries-old mud-clay kasbah fortresses
- relaxing on idyllic garden rooftops of the architecturally stunning riads
- visiting the palm oasis in Agdz, hosted by a friendly Australian lady Gaillyn
- taking a break at the laid-back surf spot of Taghazout
- chasing the tree-climbing goats munching on argan tree leaves and fruit
- exploring the various charms of Essaouira
- finding incredible handicrafts and testing my bargaining skills
- drinking the sweet mint tea that really started to grow on me after a while