Morocco Diary / Do You Like Taking Risks?
When my flight confirmation to Agadir was in the mailbox, I immediately started fantasizing about all those colourful and vibrant places I had seen in the others’ Instagram accounts. I have to confess that I really wanted to have some of those pictures as well, so when the actual planning of a 9-day trip started, without any hesitation I said that we must visit Chefchaouen, popularly known as a Blue City, even though it was one of the farthest spots in the country. As we are crazy maximalists, my friends and I developed a plan, which mature people, like our parents, saw as highly questionable. Wondering how it looked like? Agadir - Marrakesh - Ouarzazate - Ouzoud Falls - Fes - Chefchaouen - Essaoiura or 2,283 kilometres around a whole country.
by AISTE ZALAITE
“It does not feel like Africa’- a thought has crossed my mind when we were wandering around Morocco. It was an abstract feeling, which did not get out of my head during the entire journey. I kept thinking whether we always build a picture of any country based on various stereotypes, even before visiting it”
Morocco definitely was not what I expected. First 15 minutes after landing were followed by airport security taking my friend to the ‘private room’ as he brought two-way radios for us to communicate between the two cars. They explained to him that he must have an official permission of the Ministry of Communications to be allowed to bring this kind of equipment to the country. Wait, how we had not thought about this before? Even though we made a lot of jokes what was happening behind those closed doors, at that moment we realized that this is not going to be an easy trip.
Morocco tip No.1:
Be nice to a car rental guy! You will need all of his dedication and help. We spent an hour trying to get our cars even though we had booked them in advance. Our decision to take an insurance from the third - party company and save around 200 euros per two cars was followed by a wide smile and words: “You like risks, don’t you?”. My first thought was: “This is exactly what I was thinking about” as before going on the trip I was the one advocating for getting a full insurance coverage, however, my suggestion was supported only by two other girls in the group, while the guys said that “We know how to drive”. No matter the arguments, guys were not convinced with the idea and we just gave up trying to give them a sense of possible consequences. I was angry but understood that this is a joint trip of 9 different people and we have to find a way to make a group decision, even though sometimes they do not make any sense for me. After finally getting into the streets I could hear car rental guy’s words in my head every five seconds. That is the frequency of someone almost hitting us by car or unexpected bike crossing in the middle of the road. I was expecting some chaos but it was beyond my assumptions and I immediately felt so much love to all the drivers in Vilnius.
Do not accept help from anyone in the streets. It might sound exaggerated and stereotypical but every time I was the one left without some amount of money and disappointed. While coming to our Airbnb in Marrakesh I truly felt the highest adrenaline rush in my body. We had doubts whether we could actually reach a place by cars as the local streets looked too narrow. I assume, local guys could smell our hesitation outside and kindly offered us to park cars close by, as according to them it was an official parking of our chosen Riad.
It looked suspicious but we thought we could leave cars there for 10 minutes and go to check our place. Two of my friends quickly went down the street to see whether it is possible to pass through it. When they came back we decided to try parking closer, as we were not fond of the idea of leaving our cars there. Guys on the street were not happy at all. They started yelling at us that we are making a mistake that our cars will be damaged and we will regret this decision later on. It was not the most pleasant encounter with the locals, especially when they actually started kicking the car. We had no choice just to drive on and hope that we would not need to turn back. Our navigation showed that in one kilometre we will reach our place but that one kilometre was actually through the heart of famous Moroccan bazaar…
Most of the time I kept my eyes closed, as I did not want to see that thin gap between a car and someone’s stand of fruits or shoe shop. I could only hear people yelling and you could not tell whether they were angry or actually trying to safely navigate us through the different stands, well I guess it was both. At the first glance, I had never thought that a car can fit in the places we passed through and when we finally arrived, I could see the relieved faces of my friends.
Our host was a really nice and lovely man who could not stop laughing when we told him how we got here. His words were – “You are lucky you did not come later as after night prayers many people will hit the shops and there will be hundreds of them in the streets”.
After a long journey to our first destination I was happy to get nice dinner and the next morning I woke up and went for breakfast at the beautiful terrace I could feel it was just the beginning of our interesting experience in Morocco.
During the trip, we shared many great memories when exploring new cities and admiring spectacular nature scenes. In my opinion, Morocco natural treasures are more worth visiting than cities. In the morning your day can start with a breathtaking mountain view, while in the evening you can be just one step across the desert.
After 9 days on the road, I have to admit, I was tired. I was tired of constantly being around other people for 24 hours a day. The only time I had for myself was when taking a shower. However, it had to be quick as always some people were waiting in the line.
I understood that even though it is fun to travel with friends, it is challenging for me. I am quick to adapt to different needs and situations, however, due to this quality I often end up satisfying other peoples’ needs and forgetting about my preferences and myself.
During days spent together, of course, we could not avoid some arguments and I noticed how I stepped back from them just to ensure that we would not get into an even bigger fight. At first, it did not bother me that much, however, later on, I realized that my needs are as important as theirs and if I want to be heard I have to speak up, even though I might get across some dissatisfied faces.
Be true to yourself. If you are a museum person and others are not, it is not a disaster to go by yourself. Now I regret not visiting the YSL museum in Marrakesh with such an incredible collection of works just because I thought no one would be interested in that. No matter with whom you are travelling, make the most of it!
No doubt that the journey with a group of people reveals everyone’s biggest flaws, but this is what makes friends even closer. If you can manage an intensive trip together and still feel the urge to meet up after two days of coming back, you can start planning the next adventure as we are!
By the way, I have got my picture taken in the Blue City!