Author: Nicole Ditolla
“Wouldn't you know we're riding on the Marrakesh Express,” is a line from the song Marrakesh Express sung by Crosby, Stills and Nash. But in all honesty, it could very well be the name of our bus! While we were in the midst of our travels, some of my friends and I calculated the amount of hours that we have been on the bus. It totaled out to just about 96 hours. I have seen just about every nook and cranny of Morocco, and I cannot be more thankful!
This past weekend, CIEE took us to the beautiful and touristy Marrakesh and the coastal city of Essaouira. Our first stop after checking into our beautiful hotel was a lovely rooftop restaurant. You could see the entire UNESCO protected Djemaa el-Fna medina from where we ate. After we wandered the streets with a tour guide, which is always a necessary because the medina of Marrakesh is a maze. I would have most definitely gotten lost if I sauntered on my own. In the midst of the tour, we stumbled onto the Ali Ben Youssel Medersa, the old Koranic school for children. After the tour, we were allowed to saunter on our own. I ended of buying a lantern, while my friend Max bought a Palestinian soccer jersey. Our group bargaining effort saved him more than 50 percent! The jersey started at $80, but with our acquired bargaining skills, thanks to our intense bargaining training at the CIEE Center, kicked in and we negotiated until it was only $25.
The following day, we went into the Atlas Mountains and hiked through a local village. Our lack of athleticism was rewarded with chicken tajine when we returned. It was a long ride to Essaouira from the mountains.
The following morning we checked out the city. Unfortunately it was very rainy in Essaouira, but a trip to the fish markets and port rejuvenated our spirits! It was definitely one of the most interesting tours of the program, thus far. Essaouira was also the set for a number of episodes of the popular show Game of Thrones. Although, most of us do not watch the show, it was very cool to picture the city of Essaouira being transformed into an ancient port city.
The following morning we headed back to Rabat. It was a rewarding trip to see central and southern Morocco! I underestimated the vast enormity of Morocco, but this country is huge. And it has so much to offer! Each city we visit, I pick up something different about the Moroccan culture.