A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|06/12/05 at 15:45:15|
|My friend and I arrived at the port of Tangier, Morocco via a ferry from Tarifa, Spain. Due to all the ďhorrorĒ stories about the hustles in Tangier and having absolutely no time to waste, we decided to go straight to Fez. After going through some intense bargaining we found a taxi driver who would take us to Fez for 60 euros. As we are leaving Tangier, we got the first glimpse of Camel Caravan along the Atlantic coast. The drive took us through some small towns that reminded me very much of the small towns in Pakistan. We saw pickup trucks carrying equal number of animals and people and it is hard to distinguish whatís an animal and whatís a person, donkeys carrying way more load than it ever should and yet taking those lashes from its owner without a complaint. I wonder if they ever do a study on donkeys in the third world, they will probably find that itís a very unique creature.. and its rather mutated too.. it has mutated itself to behave more like.. well husbands.. Maybe thatís why Iím not married yet as I donít wanna be a donkey. But thatís a separate story. Some people would disagree as they would say that you donít have to be married to be a donkey! On our way we stopped over in a Truck driversí restaurant and we had the best lamb chops we have ever had in our life! That with the mint tea and followed by some fresh melons.. aaah just yummmmm. |
The time in Fez was great. It would have been better if it werenít for the little kids asking for smoke and offering us hookers. That was a little disturbing to see. Besides that, the old madina in Fez is absolute maize with so much mystery and hidden secrets. If you can avoid the tourist traps, it is a great city to visit. The madrasas (unfortunately not in use anymore as such) are really beautiful and the mosques are simple yet really spiritual. My advice to anyone would be to get lost in the maize. You can always give some kid 2 dirham (20 cents) to take you to a known landmark. We had the guide for half a day and we explored ourselves for the rest of the day. It was definitely a better experience exploring ourselves. Guide will always take you to tourist traps to get his commission.
Next stop: Marrakech. It was a very long overnight train ride to Marrakech (through Casablanca). Again, due to shortage of time, we decided to skip Casa. The colors in Marrakech are a little different. Sandy red is the dominant color as the city is close to the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains and Sahara desert starts after that. We spent one and a half days exploring the city. Another great city! As we had learnt our lesson in Fez, we decided to explore everything ourselves. Koutobia mosque.. Madrassa Ben Yousuf.. many places to see.. but one of the greatest experience was the Juma al Fina.. Itís a daily bazaar that really picks up after dark. You see countless numbers of food stalls. No matter what anyone tells you, this is THE place to eat your dinner. Donít let anyone fool you into those tourist belly dancing restaurants as the food is mediocre and the dancers are ugly.. and the price is very high to the magnitude of $40 per person. Thatís the salary of an average Moroccan. Juma al fina is the place to go at night. You will see snake charmers, story tellers, street dancers, and many more things. Donít pay anyone more than 5-10 dirham and do try the 2.5 dirham freshly squeezed Orange Juice. Its one of the best juice you have ever had.
Fez and Marrakech were great but the most memorable part of Morocco was the trip to the Sahara desert through the high Atlas Mountains and Todra Gorges. This truly was the experience of a lifetime. The beauty of High Atlas mountains is beyond any description. You are driving through deep red mountains and see lush green valleys. The color contrast is so unique and not to be found anywhere else. The farther we moved away from the city, the true genuine nature of Moroccan people became more apparent. They are hospitable, nice and welcoming people. I sensed just a little bit of tension between the Berbers and the Arabs, but nothing that was very obvious. Stopover in small Kasbas (old forts and towns) was a unique experience. And what was even more amazing that there were people still living there. For that trip, my friend and I had joined a group of two British girls, a dutch couple, an Ausie couple, a Kenyan, and an Italian, and a Swiss couple with two kids. A very interesting and diverse group. First night of the trip we stayed in a hotel in the middle of High Atlas Mountains. It was situated in between two mountains that are barely 700 ft apart from each other. Next day we drove to Todra gorges. Again, its two tall mountains just very very close to each other and you walk between to two. Your neck starts hurting after continuously looking up for a while. That day late in the afternoon, we enter the magnificent Sahara Desert. After a quick photo shoot with the camels, the setting sun and the rising moon, we took an hour long camel ride into the desert where there was nothing but the sand dunes around us as far as we could see. We saw the local Berbers waiting to welcome us. Our tents were set up. We climbed the sand dunes while the Berbers cooked for us. Climbing sand dunes in Sahara is no joke and as I found out that I was not in the best shape, it became quite a challenge. Nevertheless, we climbed it to the very top with a great sense of achievement. Berbers cooked us real delicious beef and vegetable tajine that we all ate with our hands of course from one big communal dish! They also sang and played drums and then everyone sang a song from their nationality. Somehow, just like in Istanbul, I was asked to show my vocal talent again and besides my insistence to get out of it, I was forced to sing. For some reason Junoon version of Allah Hu was appreciated much more than my azan in Istanbul or maybe they were just being too nice to me.
We slept under the stars. It was the first time in 10 yrs and since my visit to my grandpa house in Bahawalnagar (Punjab) that I had slept under the stars. Too bad it rained in the middle of the night. Next morning, even though we woke up early to see the sunrise and climbed the sand dune again (with even much more effort this time as the muscles were sore and I was totally out of water), we couldnít see it as it was too cloudy. It was a good morning exercise nevertheless. From that point on, our 28 hours of return journey back to Spain begun. That included a camel ride, minivan, taxis, train, ferry to Algeciras and a bus ride to Granada, Spain. I remember the return drive though the High Atlas mountains as they were covered with fog. We were literally driving through clouds, scary Berber music was on in the van, and we barely had 15 feet of vision. Of course the side of the road had hundreds of feet sheer drop.
Moroccan architecture is of unique style. Where Moguls and the Turks emphasized on beauty and scale, Moors relied more on spiritualistic aspect. As non-muslims were not allowed in Moroccan mosques, they made it fairly clear that itís a place to worship and that itís not a tourist attraction. Even I was being stopped couple times to enter the Masjid and it took couple of salaams and assurances before I was allowed in. They probably thought I was an Israeli agent. What they donít know is that Israel is not stupid enough to send agents like me. The beauty of Moors architecture is more apparent in Andalucia in Masjid-e-Qartaba and the Alhambra. But Iíll leave Andalucia for another travel story.
|06/12/05 at 15:53:58|
I was invited to add my travel stories here.. sounds like an awesome idea. hope you guyus enjoy it. Let me know what you think or if there are any questions :)
|06/12/05 at 16:47:49|
thanx jadoogar!! i really found them very interesting.. btw what got you interested in traveling in the beginning? And is your goal to visit every cool place in the world? :)
|its a big world..|
|06/12/05 at 21:31:43|
thx jannah.. i didnt know that ppl actually read them. i enjoy to travel and explore. i wish i could do it more often. but gotta work too you know.. yah and it would be a dream to be able to see all the wonderful places in the world.. may be after I win the lottery.. :) i dont know what got me into travel. i guess one thing lead to another. first i went to london and from there to spain.. and then I started haing fun.. so I told myself to explore at least one major area once an year.. and thats what i have been doing... goto one country for about 2 weeks every year and just explore. lets see what will it be this year.
|06/18/05 at 04:30:58|
This is so awesome :). Due to a change of plans, I've returned from Malaysia a lot earlier than initially planned, but insha'Allaah it's all for the best. Whilst there I managed to visit Indonesia and Singapore too, insha'Allaah if I ever get around to it, will put pics up.
But bro Jadoogar, am so glad u posted this-insha'Allaah we're planning to go to Morocco in a few wks time :). Insha'Allaah we're planning to go to casablanca, fes, rabat and marrakech, so any places to visit within these areas that u can recommend would be appreciated :). We were also planning to go to the High Atlas mountains-did u get a bus there or did u go by cab? If u got a bus, where did u get it from? And when u were in the Sahara desert, was it quite hot or was it all quite tolerable?
BarakAllaahu feek :)
|06/18/05 at 22:12:21|
thx sister salam....
I definitely reco fez and marrakech.. like I mentioned in the post, we joined a tour group to go to high atlas and the sahara. go to hotel Ali near madina and ask for sahara expedition tours (www.saharaexpe.ma). Tour through high atlas, todra gorges amd sahara icluding hotel and dinners should cost aroud 1000 dirhams ($100) -- its definitely better to go with a group.. you learn a lot - meet interesting ppl and save lots of time and even money. its a 3 day tour and will be the most amazing thing you will do in morocco. hope it helps..
i'm eager to see malaysia / indonesia pictures / details. i hope to visit that area with in an yr or so inshallah.
|I WANNA GO TOO|
|06/22/05 at 07:52:22|
Inshallah id love to travel too next year wheni actually startt working after finishing my studies! :( its only the mahram story thats a bit...
Could anyone pls post pics of turkiye?
|06/28/05 at 22:44:04|
|aight.. i got morocco pictures up if anyone cares to see 'em. |
|I just read this|
|07/01/05 at 14:28:54|
I live in Morocco, and would have replied a lot earlier had I been reading consistantly but I've been out of the loop for a while.
If anyone is coming here I would love to help out in any way. If nothing else I can always offer some advice or tips or answer questions. IM me if you like :)
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board