3 stops on the return trip to Fez – مراكش ودار البيضاء ورباط

Making our way back to Fez, we went via bus from Tafraout to Marrakesh. Even though it was a CTM bus, people on the winding road couldn’t handle the turns and at one point the driver announced; If you’re going to vomit, please do so in a plastic bag. Note: The CTM busses in Morocco are usually punctual, sometimes air-conditioned, and run on a pretty firm schedule. All other bus companies I’ve experienced are much cheaper, but are either stifling hot or freezing cold, stop for people who flag them down from the road, and are usually in need of major maintenance.

We stayed two nights in Marrakesh, to give it another shot. We checked out the 16th century Badi palace and 19th century Bahia palace, both very beautiful, and walked through the Jewish cemetery.

Many people love this city, but I was happy to leave. Especially after the calm of the coast and small inland villages, Marrakesh was startling. Streets crowded with tourists bumping into you, both Moroccan and from abroad, loud music blasting from shops, women and children selling kleenexes or begging for money in front of Club Med. The Djemma al Fna is as out of control as the guidebooks describe: every night there are snake charmers, monkeys from the Middle Atlas in chains, fortune tellers, henna ladies, live music, storytellers, comedians, acrobats, grilled meats, dried fruits and nuts, fresh OJ for 4 dhs (50cents), and so much junk to buy! The streets of the medina are fairly straight, unlike Fez, and people whiz by on motos and bikes. Marrakesh has its charms, I’m sure, but I didn’t spend enough time there to find them.

I did have a tasty beet-ginger juice, though.

On the trip back north, we passed through Casablanca for an hour or two to visit the Jewish history museum. Jews have been a large part of Moroccan history and culture for literally thousands of years, and most Moroccans are proud to tell you that, but today the community is less than 6,000. Worth the visit; it is the only Jewish museum in a Muslim country.

Anyone read Hebrew? This is Moroccan Darija written out in Hebrew script.

Our last stop before Fez was to take care of some business in Rabat. While we were there, we toured the Chellah, a site of the ruins of a Roman port city and Almohad and Merenid monuments.

from L to R: Roman ruins, Merenid minaret

Not a bad adventure to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Laura in Morocco.

About Laura McAdams

Laura McAdams is a Master’s student at University of Pennsylvania studying International Educational Development. Her experience in the MENA region includes 15 months as a Fulbright student researcher to Fez and Ifrane, Morocco in 2010 and 2011. Her project was interested in understanding the disconnect between the policies of technology usage in education and the reality of how these policies unfold in the classroom. Summer 2012 she returned to the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco to work with a women’s weaving cooperative. She is excited to learn more about other countries in the MENA region and issues involving education policy and reform, technology usage in curriculums and gender equality in education. One of Laura’s lifelong goals is to one day be able to sit down and leisurely read a newspaper in Arabic.
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