After being accepted into Diverbo (An English volunteer program in Madrid), I decided that I would fly to Morocco due to its close proximity to Spain.
My first stop was in Chefchaouen, Morocco aka the Blue city. In Chefchaouen, I took a shared taxi to Tangier (7 Dirham) and a 5 hr train ride from Tangier to Marrakech.
I arrived in Marrakech and my Gambian guide Dawda picked me up from the train station and we dropped off my luggage at the Airbnb. Afterward, we went into the Jamee el-Fnaa Medina Square to eat and walk around. I must say that it was a bit overwhelming compared to the small blue city.
Walking around the main square can be very overwhelming. They have restaurants, henna tattoos, snake charmers, fruit stands, music, horse carriages, vendors and much more.
I paid approximately $70 for the Sahara Desert Experience. At 7 am, the bus arrived at the Airbnb and we retrieved about 15 other people along the way. After several hours we stopped at Al Haouz for a break to stretch and take pictures of the scenery.
Our next stop was a tour of Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou where they filmed famous movies such as King Tut (1994), Indiana Jones (1996), Gladiator (1998-1999) Games of Throne (2012), The Bible (2012), among others. While in Ben Haddou we also learned how to tie headscarves for our trek into the desert.
After about 8 hours we arrived at the Merzouga campsite. I had no idea that we would have to ride a camel to our tents. I was both frightened and excited at the prospect of riding a camel for the first time. I thought the scariest part about being on a camel was when the camel raised up from a sitting to standing position. Apparently, that is the easy part.
Although the camel trek was only 45 min it felt like hours. I could not enjoy the ride because it was uncomfortable to ride the camel. My private area and my but were sitting directly on the humps. I have never experienced that level of discomfort riding on an animal. I felt violated by this slow-moving animal we call a camel. I knew for a fact that my lady parts were hurt as evidenced by painful urination and my butt being in pain after riding. I’m not sure if I ever need to ride another camel. I must say that I believe that the company did not provide enough padding on the camels back. Eventually, we arrived at the campsite.
The first order of business was finding a bathroom. Guess what I found? No toilets but a hole in the ground. This was my first time using this method to urinate. I removed my pants and underwear and squatted to avoid getting my clothes wet. It hit my leg a bit but not too much. When I used it the second time around my aim was much better.
I think I will try the Female Urination Device on my next vacation
Tea is a staple in Morocco. It is always served as a sign of welcome into a new place. After tea time, we were served family-style Moroccan dish called Tangine. The ingredients included: Chicken, vegetables, and potatoes.
Afterward, we were able to go sit in the desert sand and watch the stars shine brightly in the sky. This was the highlight of the trip, it allowed me to be thankful of the wonderful destinations that I have traveled too. People only dream of going to the motherland I call Africa.
After that, we went to our shared rooms to sleep. The bed was hard as a rock and I would have preferred to sleep outside on the soft sand.
Sunrise in Merzouga Desert
In the morning we left and stopped at Quarzarte where we could shop for rugs and had lunch.
Although I’m a budget traveler, I would have spent the extra money to experience a luxury tent in the Merzouga desert. I love experiencing new things so that my audience can learn from my mistakes.
I took a day trip from Marrakesh to Essaouira (a small fishing town in Western Morocco).
Along the way we stopped to admire the goats standing in the argon tree, I even held a cute baby goat.
Next, we stopped at a place where we had the opportunity to see how Argon is made by Moroccan women. It starts as a seed that is broken apart and then ground into water consistency and made into Argon oil. Argon can be used for your hair and skin.
Finally, we arrived in Essaouira after 4 hours of traveling. In Essaouira, we had lunch, shopped and briefly went to the beach. This is a city that I would have loved to spend more time due to the beach and the laid back vibe of the city.
A Turkish bath or hamam is a public bathing place associated with the culture of the Islamic world. I love to try new things and knew that I wanted to experience a hamam. I went to a local establishment called Chahrazad and paid 30 dirhams for a 1-hour hamam and 1-hour massage.
I was told to completely undress and given disposable underwear to put on. I laid on the slab of heated marble and the lady began to apply soap and proceeded to scrub my legs, arms, back, feet, and chest. After being washed I was rinsed off with warm water. The masseuse asked to wash my hair but I declined because it would have taken my braids to long to dry. I thought the hamam was going to hurt but it was just a hard brush going swiftly across my skin.
After the Turkish bath, I was escorted to the massage room. I was told to keep my clothes off. I have never experienced a nude massage before. She massaged my butt and breast which is something that I am not used to. It is to be noted she did not touch my private parts. It was a great experience, I recommend trying a hamam.
Places to stay: Riad’s in Marrakesh
A Riad is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior courtyard or garden. The first night I stayed at Riad Ceasar. The room was nice and I loved the pool area.
On the second night, I stayed at Riad 49 Gallery, in the honeymoon suite. I walked in and there were candles and roses sprinkled throughout the bed and bathroom.
49 Gallery had the best cook. The breakfast was plentiful and the dinner consisted of delicious lamb tagine.
On my last day in Marrakesh, I shopped in the souks for souvenirs. I bought kaftan’s, jewelry and tea glasses. When speaking with market vendors, remember to bargain and never settle for initial suggested price.
Meeting up with Friends
I met Shaná Tamara 3 years ago at the Ladies, Lipstick and Luggage’s Conference in Nashville, TN. Soon after that, she moved to Morocco to serve as a Peace Corp member. She is living out my dream, I have always wanted to serve in the Peace Corps after graduate school. Shana is now working in hospitality management and fluent in both Arabic and French. Who knew several years later that we would both be hanging out in Marrakesh, Morocco of all places.
Tips for Traveling Solo in Morocco
I know some people report that they felt unsafe and was harassed by Moroccan men. Never once did I feel unsafe as a solo female traveler. If you are traveling to Morocco I suggest the following:
- Hire a tour guide
- Wear appropriate clothing
- Go on a guided or group trip
- Meet up with friends who live there
- If men catcall or hit on you feel free to ignore inappropriate advances
- Feel free to walk around in the day time and partner with someone at night
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