Morocco–Exotic Gateway to Africa

Tangiers, with View of Spain across the Water. © Sharon Lundahl

Tangiers, with View of Spain across the Water. © Sharon Lundahl

Morocco is one of our favorite countries.  We love its multicultural atmosphere–with Berbers, Arabs and Europeans.  We spent most of our time in its ancient medinas–with “souks” (shops) and “riads” (old houses converted into B & B’s).

Berber Rugs Morocco

Berber Women with their Rugs. © Linda Ridder.

When we last visited six years ago, the two of us focused on buying rugs and visiting villages in the Atlas mountains where Berber weavers wove outlandish long-piled asymmetric design carpets.  We had a wonderful time and came home with lots of funky Berber rugs (which few people bought) and a little Tuareg jewelry (all of which sold immediately.

Morocco Ethnic Jewelry

Shopping for Jewelry. © Sharon Lundahl

So this time, our shopping goal was jewelry, not rugs.  Our traveling circumstances were different too.  We were with four friends from Whidbey Island, which necessitated renting a huge 8-passenger Renault van rather than our previous little Fiat.  As long as we were driving on the country’s wonderful highways, the big vehicle was fine.  Inside crowded cities, however, where GPS directions inexplicably led the van into ever-narrower pedestrian nooks and crannies, the van was a headache.

Rabat Morocco MusicForTheEyes

Our Big Van with Gregg and Parking Guy. © Sharon Lundahl

This trip we added the capital Rabat, Tangiers in the north, and Essaouira on the south coast, to our usual stops in Fez and Marrakesh.  We spent a week doing serious shopping in Marrakesh while our friends went to the desert for some camel riding and sleeping under the stars.

Dye Spices

Color is Everywhere in Morocco. © Sharon Lundahl

Morocco was even better than we had remembered.  It has become for Europeans like Mexico used to be for Americans–a cheap, safe, friendly, exotic and sunny spot close by.  Europeans can own property in Morocco, and many do.  At the end of the summer, 40,000 cars clogged the streets of Tangiers waiting for the ferries back to Spain.

A round-trip air ticked from the UK can be had for $ 75.00, so many Europeans visit for long weekends.  We ran into a little group of middle-aged girlfriends who had left their kids and husbands back in Liverpool.

Cooking Lamb

Fred Playing Harmonica with Guys Cooking Lamb on Eid el Adha. © Sharon Lundahl

Morocco is still a deeply Islamic country, but without any visible fanaticism.  It seemed that we saw fewer headscarves on women than we did before.

Last time we visited during Ramadan.  This trip ended right after the big feast of Eid el Adha.  The local people carry on with their traditions amidst hundreds of Europeans with no fuss or bother.  The interactions between cultures continues to grow closer.

Unfettered Access to Communications. © Fred Lundahl

Unfettered Access to Communications. © Fred Lundahl

Most Moroccans give credit to their young king, Mohammed VI, for the peace and prosperity they enjoy.  By implementing clever policies (unfettered access to European TV and encouragement of Berber culture, to give only two examples) the King has managed to become the only leader in the Middle East who has led his country from a discontented Arab winter to an affluent Arab summer…without becoming mired in the mess of an Arab spring.

More blogs on our trip to Morocco will follow.

Morocco, Marrakesh

Sharon with Massimo from Riad in Marrakesh. © Fred Lundahl

6 Responses to “Morocco–Exotic Gateway to Africa”

  1. Bronwyn rose

    Love the comments, especially the analogy of seasons or lack of one in Morocco!
    Why is Sharon not wearing local jewellery?

    Reply
  2. Nader Abdelsayed

    I’m an Egyptian- American living in vegas. This blog has prompted me to start planning a 10 day vacation. I met you at your shop in Langley. When is a good time to go? Which beach vacations u recommend? And do u recommend any must reads on traveling there?

    Reply
  3. summer

    Remember me, my friends?
    We are in Arizona.
    Missed connecting before you left.
    I want to hear everything about Morocco and let you know how important you and your sharing is to the world. You are so incredibly special- both of you!

    Reply
  4. Lisa

    My husband and I had the pleasure of hosting Sharon, Fred and their caravan of friends in Tangiers. We own a traditional home (riad) there and try to spend half the year in Morocco. The members of the Lundahl caravan were delightful guests. They took advantage of every minute to get to know Tangiers, a Moroccan city that, for some reason, often is bypassed on the Grand Tour of Morocco. I can attest to the fact that Sharon has written an insightful and accurate article on her recent visit.
    To answer some of Nader’s questions, I think that spring and fall are the best times to visit Morocco. I would investigate the beaches in the south of Morocco rather than heading for well-known tourist destinations such as Agadir.

    Reply

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