Monday, December 07, 2015

Morocco Adventure - Day 4

[Written 11/27/2015]

Day 4 of our Morocco Adventure was spent traveling from Rabat to Marrakesch. Of course I insisted that we stop at El Jadida along the way, which only added 2 or 3 hours(!) to this otherwise 3 hour trip. El Jadida turned out to be a worthy place to stop, as its Medina was straight out of a picture book. Of course we arrived at around 2pm, when one of the main sites of the city is closed (it would re-open at 3pm), but that's just my luck.

What made the stop in El Jadida so costly in terms of time is that we switched from an Autoroute to an older surface road. That means we went from a modern toll road to one shared by donkeys, motor-cycle powered mini-trucks and mopeds. As a passenger, it made for entertaining scenery, as a driver, not so much.

Speaking of scenery, much of our trip was spent passing either flat farms, or flat brown scrubby areas. It wasn't until we started to near Marrakesh that we started to see mountains in the far distance. There were occasional trees, but most of the landscape was dominated by cactus, which almost appeared to be cultivated to form boundaries along the landscape.

By now you're tired of hearing about how crazy Morrocan drivers are. But I've got to say, the traffic in Marrakesch makes Rabat look absolutely tame. As we made our way to our Riad (hotel) in the Madina, traffic got exponentially more insane. By the time we rounded the last traffic circle, every available space on the road was clogged with either a car, horse, donkey, moped, scooter or pedestrian. Any void was immediately filled with one of these. As one resource noted, the stop lights and pedestrian crossings here are merely for decoration. It was truly something else. Luckily, we parked the car at the hotel and won't touch it for another few days.

After a long and harrowing car ride, stepping into Riad Dar Anika was like stepping into an alternate universe. We started the evening with milk, tea, pastries and dates. We then checked out our room, which was covered in rose petals. And finally, we had dinner, which consisted of 5 very yummy courses. It was the perfect end to a long day.

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