Hello from Morocco! Before I start on our first day in Morocco, I figured I would let y’all know the best news ever that we received during our seven-day trek from Ghana to Morocco; this news is that we found out that my dad, Champ, will be joining us in our after SAS travel! Rebecca and I will be traveling through London and to Greece just the two of us and then my dad will join us for Switzerland and Greece. This news made my whole stinking voyage and I’m so excited to see him!
Okay, back to our fabulous first day in Morocco! We arrived in Casablanca this morning, but didn’t get off of the ship until almost 11 o’clock. It took a while for immigration and customs to clear the ship this morning. Apparently, Morocco is very strict on who can and cannot enter the country. There are about ten SAS students who can’t get off of the ship in Morocco because they’re international students. We also had a ship-wide security briefing this morning with a member of the U.S. Consulate. SAS has really been extra cautious this port about informing us on security and safety topics. By the time the ship got cleared, our briefing was over, and we got ready it was already 11 o’clock. We didn’t have much of a plan today besides explore Casablanca. Tomorrow we leave for a three-day Camel Trek trip, so today was our day to kind of relax and explore what we could. With no plans and no idea what Casablanca had to offer we headed off the ship and into town. The walk from the ship to town wasn’t too bad. When we got to town we immediately found a place to get some lunch. We have been with the sisters all day, which is no surprise, and the four of us learned way back in Japan that we need to eat as soon as anyone even has the slightest inkling of hungriness in order to avoid the dreaded “hangry” phase. So, before “hangry” could even become a thing of the day we grabbed some lunch. As soon as we got into the downtown Casablanca we stumbled upon this place called “Casa Jose”. It looked like a really nice, clean, and safe restaurant and it had a trip advisor-rating sticker, so we went inside and had a delicious lunch. The restaurant served traditional Spanish food and it was so stinking good. It was nice to eat at a semi-fancy restaurant and just enjoy a good meal. With food in our bellies we headed back out into town and started our exploration for the day. Not too far from the restaurant there was a market that we found and obviously had to go in. The four of us had the time of our lives at the markets in Vietnam and decided to give these markets a shot. The markets here in Casablanca sold more of the tacky knock-off purses and glasses and what not, but there were also people selling super cute Moroccan shirts, bowls, scarves, and other goods. We got a few things, but not too much. We were told that Marrakech, where we are going tomorrow, is the place for true Moroccan goods and souvenirs. Nonetheless, we had fun getting a few things and, of course, bartering for them. It’s so crazy to me that in the majority of these places we’ve visited, you can just not pay what they’re asking for and create your own price. We were joking that we’re going to go home in a few weeks and just unconsciously barter with the people at Target or wherever and in turn get the strangest looks. I suppose we probably will have some United States culture shock after being gone for so long, but hopefully we’ll never do that. After the market we wandered to another part of town and found ourselves at a little café in the middle of town sipping on a cappuccino. Like I said, we had no real plan for the day so we really just wandered around town and tried to take in as much of Casablanca as we could. After our coffee pit stop it was about 4 o’clock and we continued to walk and shop around the town. Morocco is prominently Muslim and today is Friday, so not everything was open and a lot of the stores that were open just opened up for a few hours in the afternoon. Although all of the stores in town weren’t open there were a lot of people selling goods on the side of the street as we walked around, which was fun to look at and shop through. We decided to start meandering our way to dinner before people got hungry and worn out. We found this restaurant on trip advisor during coffee and it looked absolutely amazing. The looks were not disappointed once we arrived either. We ate dinner at this place called “ La Sqala” and it was traditional Moroccan food that was so delicious I could probably eat there the rest of my life and not complain. We got there around 5:30 and didn’t leave until a little after 7 o’clock. I’m definitely going to miss just hanging out with my best friends over a delicious meal in a foreign country and having nothing that we need to rush away from dinner for. We finally decided to leave because we wanted to be back to the ship before it got dark and we still had about an hour walk before we were there. It doesn’t get dark here until about 8 o’clock; we got to the ship just before dark with no issues or anything. Rebecca and I bought fake wedding rings before we came on the trip and then wore them one day in Japan, where the sisters bought their own fake wedding rings. We were told to wear them here, and didn’t believe it would really make a difference, but it actually helped us quite a few times. Sexual harassment is apparently a huge issue here. We were talking this evening with some girls who were just annoyed and yelled at by men today, but we didn’t run into any problems at all. We were asked about them a few times today, but didn’t really get harassed at all. I don’t really know if that was a stroke of luck or something because I feel like I look like I’m a twelve year old and the wedding ring is not really that believable, but regardless I’m super grateful we didn’t have any run ins or issues today. Once we got to the ship we decided it would probably be a good idea to pack for our three-day trip we leave for in the morning. We leave at 7:30 tomorrow morning for a Camel Trek trip to a Nomad camp in Marrakech. I’ve, obviously, never ridden camel so I’m super excited about it. So far, Morocco has treated us fantastically and I’m so excited to soak up our last real port of Semester At Sea.