Morocco – An Introduction

As mentioned in my post here, my latest getaway took me to Morocco, along with my 3 travel mates.

To sum up this incredible experience in one post seems an impossible task. To that end, I have chosen to not even try.  I invite you to join me in learning about this interesting destination while allowing me to introduce you to some of the wonderful people we met along the way.

One of our main priorities when travelling together, is to ensure that we strive to pursue an authentic experience.  Sitting on a tour bus for hours on end, catching a glimpse of the landscape from the window, is not the kind of experience we are in search of.

Recognizing the cultural differences that exist in Morocco for women, our usual preference of travelling on our own presented some challenges & concerns.   With this in mind, we made the decision to seek out a tour company to accompany us on our travels, one that could provide the kind of authentic experience we were looking for.

After searching a variety of companies & reading many, many reviews, we made the decision to book with Rough Tours: Morocco, a decision that would prove to be a very good one.

Rough Tours is only too happy to put together a tour tailored to your needs & wants, in our case, a 15 day tour with just the 4 of us & our guide.  Their guides are excellent, knowledgeable in all things Morocco, providing their guests with an unforgettable experience.  I would absolutely recommend their company if you were considering visiting Morocco!

Arriving in Casablanca, we were welcomed to Morocco by Youssef Boughrara, the founder & manager of the company.  Youssef would be our guide for 2 days taking us from Casablanca to Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains, where he would turn us over to Driss & Ahmed, the two young men we would spend the bulk of our tour with.  More about this dynamic duo in future posts.

Youssef, or as we like to call him, Eddie Bauer

Youssef, or as we like to call him, Eddie Bauer

First, allow me to introduce Youssef.  Youssef is a young a man with a keen sense of business & enough charisma for 10 people!

 I KID YOU NOT!

His energy, combined with his easy nature & dazzling smile, leaves you with the feeling that he is an old friend, not someone you just met in a foreign country.  

Raised in the very small & remote desert village of Ramlia, Youssef was a young boy with a sense of determination & big dreams.   Not unlike most children.  

What separates him from many, is having the tenacity to follow those dreams & achieve the goals he set out to accomplish.

His aspirations included education, which he sought not only for himself, but for all children.   One does not need to spend much time with this young man to realise that if he sets his mind to something, he will make it happen.

After graduating University & setting up his business, he set his sights on building a school & establishing the Friends of Nomads program to support the many children in need of education.

Youssef is a living example of the Pay it Forward Philosophy, giving back to his community & enriching the lives of the people he touches on a daily basis.  I invite you to check out both his tour company as well as the Friends of Nomads.

Our visit to the school & Friends of Nomads program

Our visit to the school & Friends of Nomads program

This wee boy (center) melted my heart. He is quite serious in this shot but when he smiled, he lit up the room.

This wee boy (center) melted my heart. He is quite serious in this shot but when he smiled, he lit up the room.

Our first few days with Youssef were spent travelling from Casablanca to Chefchaouen, stopping in Rabat along the way.

During this time, we had the opportunity to quiz Youssef on a number of things we were curious about.

We were pleasantly surprised with his openness to share a wealth of information, both about his own life, as well as the culture in Morocco in general.

In all honesty, I am not certain we expected people, men in particular, to be so open with us.  Just one of many misconceptions we had about Morocco & the Muslim culture.

Inside the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. Commissioned by King Hassan II, it is estimated to have cost as much as 800 million to build, much of which was raised by the Moroccan people. Taking 7 years to build, it has the capacity to house 25,000 worshipers inside and an another 80,00 on the Mosque grounds.

Inside the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. Commissioned by King Hassan II, it is estimated to have cost as much as 800 million to build, much of which was raised by the Moroccan people. Taking 7 years to build, it has the capacity to house 25,000 worshipers inside and an another 80,00 on the Mosque grounds.

Interior of the Mausoleum in Rabat containing the tombs of King Hussan II & his two sons. The gentleman sitting to the right is a reader of the Koran.

Interior of the Mausoleum in Rabat containing the tombs of King Hussan II & his two sons. The gentleman sitting to the right is a reader of the Koran.

After leaving the Mausoleum in Rabat, we drove by the King’s palace where Youssef asked us on a whim if we would like to go in.  A sharp turn & lengthy discussion with the palace guards ensued but despite his best attempts to gain entry for his 4 visitors from Canada, even his dazzling smile & effervescent charm could not convince the palace guards to let us in!

Thanks for trying Youssef!

The massive cemetery in Rabat which sits by the sea

The massive cemetery in Rabat which sits by the sea

Continuing on, we drove to Chefchaouen, a small city located in the northwest part of Morocco, situated in the heart of the Rif Mountain area.  

The city is filled white-washed homes with distinctive, powder-blue accents.  The Chefchaouen region is famous for being one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco & apparently hashish is sold all over town.  Although we were never approached by anyone selling it, we did name one of our travel mates Hashish.  I’ll explain in a later post! 

As we enter into the Chefchaouen region, we stopped to take a picture of the blue door, indicative of the area.

As we enter into the Chefchaouen region, we stopped to take a picture of the blue door, indicative of the area.

First glances at Chefchaouen, Rif Mountain area

First glances at Chefchaouen, Rif Mountain area

Just one of many modes of transport in Morocco

Just one of many modes of transport in Morocco

Alleyway in Chefchaouen

Alleyway in Chefchaouen

While travel offers us the opportunity to visit faraway places & beautiful foreign lands, it is the chance to connect with people in different parts of the world that leaves an impact on our lives.

There were a number a people we met on this journey who opened their hearts & their homes to us, presenting us the gift of hospitality & friendship.  Providing us with an opportunity to learn about their lives, their families & their culture.

We were truly touched by their openness & their warmth!

Next stop….Fes

Hugs,

L

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15 Responses to Morocco – An Introduction

  1. sueslaght says:

    Lynn this is fantastic and your photos are tremendous. Love the donkey one in particular and that cemetery ..WOW!

    • Lynn says:

      Thanks Sue! There is so much we learned on this trip, sharing all in one post would not do justice to the experience.

      We loved & were fascinated by the donkeys as well. They are used in so many capacities in Morocco, they certainly earn their keep!

      The cemetery in Rabat was unbelievable! The picture I took actually only captures part of it as there is another whole section that was impossible to catch all in one shot!

  2. Carolyn MacDonald says:

    Great post, Lynn!! Keep them coming! Carolyn

  3. Gorgeous photos! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Karen says:

    The colors are so vivid… Looking forward to more!

  5. Cheryl Marsh says:

    🙂 Fabulous account, tx Lynn. So nice to ‘see’ some of your adventures!.. and look forward to more. xo
    cheers, God Bless
    love, c

    Cheryl Marsh

    Date: Thu, 15 May 2014 13:47:00 +0000
    To: clmavon@hotmail.com

  6. joannesisco says:

    Thanks for the intro to a part of the world I’ve always wanted to visit. Love, love, love the pictures and your stories. Looking forward to hearing more!!

  7. restlessjo says:

    The donkey shot is fabulous! 🙂

  8. Pingback: Lasting Impressions – A Young Man Named Driss | Life After 50

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