hotel in Rome
Happy Halloween! Weâ€™re in Morocco now, which is awesomeâ€¦ Our passage to Gibraltar was nice, I think, I canâ€™t really remember anything exciting. We arrived in the late afternoon and docked in a really nice marina. The next day I went provisioning at a legit English grocery store and then walked around the main street for a little while with Beaker. It was like being in England.
Some shipmates took the cable car up the rock and saw the famous apes of Gibraltar, and had some pretty funny pictures and stories from it. The next day we left in the morning for Morocco, which was just an overnight passage. We arrived in Mohammedia the next day and Simon spent a few hours trying to clear us into customs, which is always a pain. And instead of being able to go provisioning, I had to send a list with someone that we paid to do it for us. They way overcharged us and didnâ€™t get half the list, but oh well, you canâ€™t do much about it with Moroccan bureaucracy. The next day we went on a day trip to Casablanca, which was really fun.
shipmate with Palma shopping cart disaster
After a bit of delay in the morning we finally boarded a bus that took us the short way from the port to the center of Casablanca. Our first step was the mosque, which is the third largest in the world (after Mecca and another in Saudi Arabia). We had some time to walk around before our tour began, and then were led by a nice English speaking guide around the various levels. First we had to take our shoes off and carry them in plastic bags while we walked around the main room, which could hold a number somewhere in the thousands. Then we went to the ablution (?) room, which held dozens of large flower shaped fountains to wash up in before praying. Then it was off to see the hammam, or bathing area, which is totally unrelated to the mosque but was built in as a display for the tours.
It showed a traditional Moroccan bathing room and a traditional Turkish one. Overall the mosque was pretty accommodating. We wore our normal clothing (conservative attire for the girls), took pictures as we pleased, and could walk around and touch things if we wanted. It was very quiet and peaceful. When we first entered I was struck by the way the air seemed to hum around us and entertained the thought of a holy spirit speaking to us, until I noticed that the holy spirit was the vacuum cleaner at the far end. After the tour we hopped back on the bus, somehow accumulating a guide named â€śMr. Sugar,â€ť and drove around the city for a little while while he made outrageous comments over the loudspeaker. Some of his favorite phrases were â€śgood idea,â€ť â€śno problems,â€ť and â€śgood driver.â€ť We saw some villas in a residential section, the first McDonaldâ€™s in Morocco, and the bank (I think).
Eventually we stopped at something that was described to us as a town hall, but weâ€™re not sure if thatâ€™s exactly what it was. Either way it was a beautiful, peaceful courtyard with very pretty designs. Next we walked across the street to the Kingâ€™s palace, where Mr. Sugar seemed to barrel through the security after telling us that they donâ€™t let anyone in. We stood in front of an ornate gate for a few minutes while he explained some things about the king, and then we were whisked away again. Luckily this time it was to a restaurant, as it was after two and we were all starving. Mr. Sugar led us through the busy market and streets by blowing on a whistle very loudly, whether or not there was actually anything in our path. At first thought our restaurant could have been considered touristy, as it was the epitome of what our uneducated minds expected a Moroccan restaurant to look like- low couches and small chairs in front of small wooden tables, ornate cloth tapestries and upholstery, mysterious instrumental music being piped inâ€¦.
rock of Gibraltar
. but it turned out, whether touristy or not, to be an unforgettable culinary and cultural experience. There was only one waiter, and he painstakingly came around to each of us and wrote down or order, which was simplified for us by them to four options- chicken or lamb, couscous or tagine. No one really knew what tagine meant, except that it was the local dish, so most people tried that. After a while we were brought a little tray of butter, olives, and the most amazing hot pepper spread I have ever tasted, and baskets upon baskets of fresh, warm bread. I probably ate an entire basket of bread myself. It was so good. That course must have lasted over a half hour. Next came the salad, and then our main dishes. The big winner of the day was the couscous, which I had picked.
It was a huge plate of steaming meat and veggies and flavored couscous that melted in your mouth. The tagine people said it was really good, turning out to be a sort of stir fry idea, but it was much smaller. To top it off we finished with small cups of sweet Moroccan mint tea. The whole thing took a couple hours, and I definitely waddled out, but it sure was delicious. Our last stop was the obligatory shop selling Moroccan trinkets and souvenirs. It was a really nice day. The next day we set sail for Essaouira and arrived the following afternoon. I had the next morning to wander around and explore the town, which I did with Beaker and Dan. We just walked whichever direction looked fun and popped in and out of little stores as we felt like it.
view from the mosque
The city was surprisingly touristy, lots of Westerners but I heard English only once or twice. The rugs everywhere were so beautiful and I really wished I could have bought a small one, but instead I got some other presents for people which I canâ€™t mention here! The only food I had ashore was this fried dough tortilla thing with cheese inside that was so good, I could have eaten five or six. I spent the afternoon on the boat and then that evening we set sail for our last Moroccan port, Agadir. We arrived there yesterday and encountered the same provisioning deal as before, so right now Iâ€™m waiting for a delivery of our food. All the shipmates are on a day trip to the beach to go surfing and hang out and Iâ€™m doing some emailing and projects on the boat. It will be sad to leave Morocco tomorrow but Iâ€™m looking forward to the Canaries and starting our Atlantic passage!