Excellent 2 week experience in Morocco - Sep 25 - Oct 1, 2019
We had an excellent 2 week experience in Morocco. The only thing we wish we had done was to spend a day or two at a coastal town. Otherwise we saw urban, mtns, the gorges, the desert and even Chefchaouen. We started in the southern area in Marrakeck which worked out well. Turns out that the prices of items in Fez are much lower than the other areas. We were told that a lot of the linens and leather etc was made in Fez which helped to lower the prices. We resisted buying on the front end of the trip saving it for Fez which was the last few days of our trip. So the lower prices were an added perk. The tannery in Marrakech was a highlight however the Fez tannery was even better. We loved the Secret Jardin in Marrakech preferring it to the Marjorelle Garden. Fewer crowds and we were really interested in the old water system of getting water from the Atlas Mtns. Our guide, Ayoub, picked us up in Marrakech. He was a young, extremely nice fella. I appreciated his temperament and his values. He is also a musician and he shared with us his talent by showing us videos of his songs. He also shared videos of his Berber village customs associated with dancing and singing. As well as videos of similar things but from different tribes. It was a great cultural experience topped off with our arrival at the Gorge's hotel with entertainment that was very similar to the videos that Ayoub shared. Perfect timing! As we approached the desert he shifted to different music to get us in the desert grove. We were traveling with our late 20 year old boys who so appreciated that both our driver and our guide were mid 20s.
Ayoub seemed a bit inexperienced in that he needed coaching on telling us what to expect for the day. Clothing, water, money and timing in particular. He got much better as the trip progressed.
Our elder son would have appreciate more input about history. The same son, got an eye infection. Ayoub was really helpful and flexible. First taking us to a pharmacy for meds ( The meds did not help.) The next day we went to the hospital (no service) and then to a private doctor (immediate service and no payment). It took all morning to do this and still Ayoub was able to adjust the schedule so that we could still go visit a Berber household. The Berber father, Mohamed, is quite a character. He lead us on a hike in the gorge which was probably the high light of our whole Morocco experience. It was so unexpectedly beautiful and surprisingly cool. This was followed by a meal in his house. I was given a tour of the house by his wife, who did not speak one work of english, but we hugged several times, shared gifts and photos. Our group referred back to Mohamed several times as the trip progressed.
It was awkward paying for the lunch. Before we left on the trip I was of the understanding that it was included. Ayoub told us that there was a change and that dinner was included that day but not lunch. The problem was, that we did not know how much to pay him and Ayoub did not provide any guidance.
Lodging- often our lodging was upgraded and we ended up in the suite. Quite a treat!!!! We appreciated the 2 places that had swimming pools. It was a great way to cool off during the days of 100 degree temps. All of our lodging was interesting and very comfortable.
Food in Morocco was delicious. However after about 7-10 days of Tagine we were ready for some variety. Our cooking class in Fez was great. Our teacher was a grandma and did not speak a word fo english but she was a delight. She effectively demonstrated the steps and there was a translator when needed. We all really enjoyed the class and the teacher.
The highlight of the trip for our boys was sandboarding. They loved it and shared stories and videos for the rest of the trip.
Ayoub is a talented photographer. He often took my big camera to get photos of the whole family and individuals. He ran up and down lots of sand dunes to get amazing pics of us on the camels. I am the family photographer so it is a treat to have some pics of me and to have such great pics of the family.
Our driver, Jilel, was very good. Also young like Ayoub. Our older son in particular enjoyed him. He provided a contrast with Ayoub. Ayoub is from a middle Atlas Berber village. He is surprisingly progressive and has compassion for women. Jilel is from Marrakech and has already been married and divorced twice, currently has 3 girlfriends and yet, has less progressive views. He was a courteous, cautious driver but able to pass when needed on the mountainous roads. He was always on time. We suggest that he figure out how to get to the riad before he begins driving. We always got a bit lost the last few minutes of the day. He brought levity to the group which was very much appreciated.
All in all it was a GREAT trip. Wonderful memories and a great time for the whole family. We found the people to be exceptionally warm, inviting, generous and helpful. Everyone should visit Mococco!