Morocco was our first international stop on our grand world tour. I found economy flights from New York’s JFK airport to Marrakesh for only $250 each, with only one short layover in London’s Gatwick airport. What a steal!
Upon arriving in Morocco, I knew that flying the drone wasn’t a possibility, but I didn’t know that it was completely illegal to even have a drone while entering the country. My drone was confiscated at the Moroccan airports by authorities while going through the exit security. I was told that I could get it back when exiting the country. This made us change our travel plans. We were planning on heading to Casablanca after our stay in Marrakesh, but with worry that the drone would be discarded after a certain period of time, (and how long we could leave it there was not clear,) we booked flights to London so I could get my drone back and reconfigure our plans. When we were leaving Marrakesh, I went through the process of retrieving my drone. It was locked in a closet with what looked like at least a hundred other drones that had been taken, which makes me think they weren’t really going to ever throw it away, but I didn’t want to take that chance. After paying a 200 dirham ($20) storage tax, we rushed through security and customs to make it to our flight back to London.
The evening we got to Morocco I had a slightly sore throat. I thought it could be due to the dry weather change or just dehydration. After 2 more days of getting worse and feeling terrible, our host Walid told me to go to the International hospital located outside of the old city walls. I’m glad my stubborn self listened to him– I had a very nasty case of tonsillitis. (I looked like I had no neck.) After getting an IV of antibiotics and a list of medication to buy at the pharmacy, we got a taxi back to our riad. I was pleasantly surprised at the care I received at the hospital. $60 for my treatment at the ER and another $20 for all of my necessary medications.
I was feeling so much better than I had the last 3 days. Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of our sicknesses. Not sure if it was a bad cold or a flu strain, we were both pretty much stuck resting, forcing ourselves to get out at least once or twice a day to get bottled water and something in our stomachs.
We stayed at Riad Assalam, inside the old city, and had the most gracious host ever, Walid. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard, but mainly they are used as small hotels for accommodation now. With an open air center, the sounds of birds and fresh breeze make for a lovely morning wake up call.
We were within a 10 minute walk of the Jemaa el-Fnaa square & market. Lots to look at in every direction, everything imaginable trying to be sold to you. Walid said that years ago, it used to be filled more genuine trading, such as books, than it is now. Today, it is geared toward attracting tourists. I did love the extremely cheap fresh juices, however. We walked past the Koutoubia mosque nearly every day, located just outside of the market center.
Visting Le Jardin Secret was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the winding maze of souqs. Beautiful intricate tile work and bustling plant life was soothing to unwind in.
We weren’t going to let our sicknesses keep us from having any fun. Going quad biking on our last full day was definitely the highlight of Morocco in the Palm Grove & Rock Desert. I did feel sorry for the girl who fell off while wearing a tube top. We were picked up near our Riad, dropped off at the desert quad center, rode for 2 hours, stopped for tea in a Berber village and shuttled back to our riad for only $40 a person. I would definitely recommend the experience!
I think that 8 days in Marrakesh is a few too many, especially if you are only staying in the old city. Our host, Walid, suggested 2-3 days for most people in the old city. Walid, being from a traditional Berber village, suggested on our next visit, to do a multiple day trip desert excursion to the Atlas mountains. I am glad we did not book that intensive of an excursion this time around due to being so ill.
We will be back to Morocco at some point down the road. The Atlas mountains are definitely calling our names.