Morocco — Better and Better!

Morocco, Fez

A Moroccan Village, Ftizaghte, South of Marrakesh. © Sharon Lundahl

Sharon and Fred  just completed another tourism and shopping trip to Morocco in June.  We are just amazed by the fact that Morocco seems to get better and better in every way.

Morocco, Marrakesh

A Moroccan Musician at the Berber Market. © Sharon Lundahl

The first time Fred visited, back during the current king’s father’s reign, there was just one international airport at Casablanca.  Although tourism was always great (remember Jimmi Hendrix), you had to work hard to travel in what was still a third-world country.  How things have changed, for the better, in two or three decades.

Besides good quality highways and toll roads linking major and minor cities, there are now about a dozen international airports.  With the rise of budget airlines like Ryan Air or Jet Airways in Europe with incredibly cheap fares, Europeans are flocking to Morocco.

Morocco

Fred in a Shopping Street in Marrakesh. © Sharon Lundahl

We spoke with many tourists who had “popped down for a couple of days” from Northern England, for example, because airfares on those no-frills airlines were less than $ 100.00 a round trip.  Amazing.

There is no prohibition against foreign ownership of businesses, so almost every B & B seemed to be owned by a European.

Morocco

Tourist Shopping from a Covered-up Moroccan Woman. © Sharon Lundahl

The country itself is still traditional in many ways and, of course, is Islamic.  The Moroccans, however, don’t impose their religious views on visitors.  This leads to some interesting scenes…scantily clad, heavily tattooed foreign tourists with bare midriffs and short shorts walking through crowded shopping alleys in the sook brushing shoulders with conservatively dressed Moroccan women, some in full face veils.  No one making a fuss.

A Mural in Marrakesh. © Sharon Lundahl

We were there during the fasting month of Ramadan and found it an educational, not unpleasant experience.  Although most Moroccans fast, they don’t mind if foreigners eat during daylight hours.  The cafes and restaurants are full of tourists as usual, although the Moroccan staff does not eat or drink.  After serving foreigners all day, the restaurants close for an hour at the Iftar, the breaking of fast prayer, to allow the staff to eat, and then they open again for customers.

Local Moroccan Shopkeepers. ©. Sharon Lundahl

This time, we did one thing right, and two things wrong.  The right thing was to NOT rent a car.  The headaches of trying to find parking and drive through narrow twisting streets in the old walled cities had always been a problem.  This time we hired a car and driver to travel between cities, and it was GREAT.

One wrong thing was to go for the month of June.  It was just too hot, with temps from 104 to 108 degrees for our last week in Marrakesh.  May and October are much better months for tourism.

Pretty Girl from Fez in Morocco. © Sharon Lundahl

The other wrong thing was to travel with a suitcase decorated with an “illegal map” of Morocco.  Sharon’s favorite roller bag has a map of the world on it that includes Morocco and, further south, the words “Western Sahara.”

Western Sahara was a Spanish colony until 1975 when Morocco unilaterally annexed the area, causing a 15-year war between Morocco and an Algerian and Soviet-sponsored liberation group called the Polisario.

Sharon’s suitcase with illegal map. © Sharon Lundahl

A UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991 is still in place, but the issue of who owns the resource-rich territory remains a contentious subject.  It is one of the impediments to good relations between Morocco and Algeria.  To the Moroccan authorities, Western Sahara does not exist, and any map that shows it is illegal.

Upon entering the country, an eagle-eyed customs agent spotted the illegal map on Sharon’s suitcase.  It first caused laughter and then consternation among the customs agents.  The problem was finally solved by putting a piece of masking tape over the offending name.  Another example of Morocco welcoming foreigners!

Locals Selling Jewelry at the Market. © Sharon Lundahl

 

 

 

11 Responses to “Morocco — Better and Better!”

  1. Delia V

    Sharon and Fred:

    Thank you for another interesting story and the pictures are wonderful! I lived in Egypt and visited Libya, Tunis several times, but have never been to Morocco. I think I want to go! And I love the Jewelry Market picture 🙂

    Keep us informed of your travels!
    Delia

    Reply
  2. Jen Maurice

    We are thinking of heading to Morocco in January/February. In your experience would that be a good time to go? I would love to talk with you in person and get some more information. I live in Freeland. Thank you for a great article. I was not really that excited about going to Morocco but you have changed my mind. Jen

    Reply
  3. Cathy Keinigs

    I always enjoy your travelogues! You make me wish I was in Morocco. It is on my bucket list.

    Reply
  4. Andréa Linton

    Thanks, Sharon and Fred! I am going to Agadir, Tan Tan Plage, and Casablanca on fishy business in late October. I have been concerned about what to wear and your comments helped a lot. Not sure if there are any great souks in the towns I’ll be visiting; I’ll update you. Cheers! Andréa

    Reply
  5. Adrian Mairs

    HELLO FRED & SHARON
    ENJOYED READING ABOUT YOUR MOROCCON ADVENTURE. MUST BE ABOUT 30 YEARS SINCE MY FIRST VISIT. GLAD TO KNOW THAT IT IS STILL A WONDERFUL PLACE TO VISIT. REGARDS. ADRIAN

    Reply
  6. Marlene Frost

    Sharon and Fred:
    THANK YOU for sharing. We love hearing of your fabulous travels.
    Marlene

    Reply
  7. Devon Amelia

    Hello Sharon & Fred ~

    Thank you so much for another interesting and valuable account of your wonderous worldly travels. I was just thinking about you two ! Much love !
    After reading this I feel excited and inspired to head to Morocco ~

    best ! Devon Amelia

    Reply
  8. nader abdelsayed

    I enjoyed your story bout the map and the masking tape. Good to know. LOL

    Reply
    • Madeleine Pohl

      As always love to read about your adventures!
      The pictures are great and give a good regards on your travels.
      Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
  9. Lisa

    Your advice is excellent. You are great travelers. Sorry that i missed you the last time you were in Morocco.

    Reply

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