Saturday, May 31, 2014

Two Year Graduation Anniversary - Marrakech, Morocco

Disclaimer: There are A LOT of photos included in this post (but I just love them all).

The final installment in my journey through College Graduation Anniversaries ends (middles?) in Marrakech, Morocco (you can read about Year Zero/Five (here), Year One (here) and Last Year's trip here - there wasn't a Three Year Graduation Trip as I was saving for Lollapalooza - I don't feel as old when I write it like that!).

Two years after I graduated college, I was living in France teaching English - a job I only was able to get because I studied French in college (and studied abroad in France), and the Director of our French Department was a boss and wrote a killer recommendation for me (so did my boss at the time - people are so nice).  Amazingly, French employees get beaucoup amounts of vacation, so we ended up with (what seemed like) two spring breaks.  Originally, I had planned to fulfill a life-long dream and travel to Egypt with my friend Maryam, but thankfully we both decided to save that for another time because the day after we decided not to go, Egypt erupted in revolt.  I still wanted to visit the Middle East, though, so where to go?  Looking back now, I should have just stayed away from the Middle East - it was the year of the Arab Spring, but I couldn't.  Luckily, a college friend, Sean, told me about his plans to visit his family in Morocco, so I decided to meet up with him in Marrakech.

My travels started off good enough, flying out of the Nantes airport instead of awful CDG, and laying over in Casablanca.  But somehow, our layover went from an hour to six hours (or longer, I lost track of time), and no one knew why.  Even though I lived in France, I still feel like my French was never as good as it should have been, but I managed to overhear different conversations in that airport:  one theory was that there was no airplane fuel, another had to do with a bombing.  This was also before I had a smart phone (plus international roaming rates, let's get real!), so I was unable to look up any news on my own.  Not to mention, I was still incredibly shy - probably had to do with the no confidence in my French thing.  Anyway, I managed to start talking to an incredibly confident Belgian/Moroccan girl, and she told me all about how there had been a bombing in a cafe in Marrakech, and that was why we were delayed.  A few hours later, we were all able to board a plane to Marrakech, and fly into an airport under lockdown - no one was allowed in, well besides us.  My crappy French pay-by-the-minute phone hadn't been properly texting Sean, so he had no idea that a) our flight had been delayed and b) that the airport was on lockdown.  I also didn't realize this until we got to the Marrakech airport, and no one was there (ANYWHERE!).  Luckily, my new Belgian/Moroccan friend was incredibly helpful, and offered to split cab fare with me to where she was staying until I could get in touch with Sean, which didn't take long.

After all of that, the trip was a breeze!  I had a blast exploring the markets, taking photos of way too many cats (I don't even like cats), and eating tons of delicious food (all you can eat olives!).

The Amazing hotel I stayed at the first night since I didn't know where else to go.






Riding a camel, because isn't that what you're supposed to do in Morocco?












Honestly, I can't even remember the names of all of the amazing places we visited.
They are probably all written down somewhere, but I'm too lazy to look.




















HENNA!

My new Belgian/Moroccan friend dancing on stage at a Moroccan Club!




























Moroccan Beer!  It exists!




























































Sean had rented a humungous apartment.

Heaven, or a place where you can buy kilos of olives and dates for next to nothing.



I know we shouldn't have, but the night we landed in Marrakech, and I'd met up
with Sean, we all drove to the main market where the cafe had been bombed,
and I snapped a photo.  Three days later, my mom called to ask if I was OK.

Looking back at all of these photos, I remember how scared I was to get on the plane to Marrakech, and then how much more scared I was when I was on the plane, flying somewhere that had just had a bombing.  As you can tell, everything turned out fine, but the world is such an unstable place, and it keeps getting worse.  I hope one day to make it to Egypt (and back to Morocco), but with all of the crazy, scary stuff going on out there, it makes it hard to plan for another trip like that, especially now that I am so much farther away.  Besides, there's still so much more to discover in the US (at least for me).

Side Note: Re-reading this post, I just got major wanderlust, so maybe crazy world events aren't that deterring.