Morocco or Bust
For obvious reasons, I’ve been told and taught (and have often learned the hard way) not to talk about things publicly before they happen. The logical side of me understands this and the emotional side of me simply wants to share my joy. But I know better. Really I do.
A few years ago, I was told I was booked for a local television show. I sent out a national press release and two days later, the producer sent me an email telling me that my segment had been cancelled. OMG. It was mortifying. A few months ago, I was told I was booked for House Hunters International and would be showing apartments in Paris, a departure from the traditional format. When I got back from the Turks & Caicos, I got an email telling me that after more consideration they simply weren’t prepared to go out on a limb although I’m welcome on the show at any time. Bummer. But I knew better than to make a public announcement because as we all know, things can change on a dime. In fact, Afrobella summed it all up quite nicely in Lesson Number TWO on a recent post she wrote about disappointment. Needless to say, we’ve all been there. And hopefully we’ve all learned the hard lesson: Zip your lips until it hits.
But guess what? Today I’m going to break my own rule (I know, I know) and share what I plan to do when I get to Morocco later this year. (I’m going to Africa!) Sharing this info isn’t quite the same as announcing a television show, so I don’t think I would be mortified or embarrassed if I weren’t able to go. In fact, I wrote a post in January 2011 about how excited I was to be going to Morocco and then all hell broke loose and Morocco was off. I can’t say that I was embarrassed in any way and while I admit that I was disappointed, it wasn’t the end of the world. Besides, turmoil doesn’t last forever and there are plenty of other destinations to choose from.
On that note and in the spirit of cultural immersion and having something wonderful to look forward to, here are the 8 things I’m going to do when I get to Morocco this November. (Somebody pray I make it this time.)
- Stay in a riad. Staying in a regular hotel in Morocco just doesn’t seem right. So instead, I’m staying in a refurbished riad. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. Riads were inward focused, which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco. This design principle found support in Islamic notions of privacy, and hijab for women. Entrance to these houses is a major transitional experience and encourages reflection because all of the rooms open into the central atrium space. In the central garden of traditional riads there are often four orange or lemon trees and possibly a fountain. [Wiki] The Angsana Riad Collection is a collection of six riads in Marrakech, Morocco owned and operated by Angsana Hotels and Resorts. My suite (notice how I refer to it as mine *giggle*) – the 2-bedroom Royal Africaine Suite – is in Angsana Riad Si Said, a genuine nineteenth century palace. Full of history, it was home to the concubines of B. Said Musa, minister of war under his brother, Ba Hmad and was a douria, which is a suite more like an apartment than a single room. In the 19th century, it was a parental suite. #wow (Boy oh boy, if these walls could talk.)
- Ride a camel. While trekking across the Sahara Desert à la the Arabian Knights or more recently the girls from Sex in the City sounds fab, the Sahara isn’t that close to Marrakech and I’m only going to be there for 4 or 5 days. Instead, I’m going to take the 2-hour drive to the seaside town of Essaouira and ride a camel for about an hour. I think that’ll be enough since I hear camel rides aren’t that comfortable and camels can be kinda mean. Wish me luck.
- Shop and get lost amongst the souqs in the The Djemma el Fna. The souqs are narrow streets of small stalls and the Djemma el Fna is THE square and marketplace in Marrakech. Snake charmers, storytellers, leather water bags, lanterns, tea trays, brass cups, traditional clothing, spices, magicians and peddlers all make this a place I can’t wait to get immersed in. (FYI: Getting lost is pretty common Marrakech. I think it’s kinda neat that Angsana offers guests a complimentary cell phone for use while on holiday.)
- Experience a Hammam. A hammam is a public scrub down. LOL Let me explain. According to Complete Morocco, “A Hammam is a steam room, similar to a Turkish bath, where Moroccans habitually go each week to cleanse themselves…and is an incredibly important part of Moroccan culture and life. The public Hammam experience is a real eye opener for the more reserved Westerner…[but] a Hammam in a hotel is a completely different story.” Guess which one I’m going to do?
- Drink mint tea. Mint tea is green tea with mint. In Morocco, it is a sign of hospitality, tradition and friendship. My husband says it’s super sweet and that I’ll probably like it. According to Food.com, “Because this drink is so popular, it is served all day long, after every meal and with every conversation. Moroccans take great pride in their tea and will often ask a visitor who among their group of friends makes the best cup of mint tea.” At Angsana Riad Si Said, the Royal Africaine Suite comes with tea and coffee making facilities.
- Wear traditional clothing. Out of respect for the culture, I plan to dress modestly by covering my shoulders, arms and legs and of course will avoid anything too form fitting. Since I own a few saris, a few wraps from Cairo, and some other garments from countries I have and have not visited, you know I’m going to get myself a beautiful djellaba and/or a kaftan. According to Inside Morocco, a djellaba is a long and loose hooded gown which Moroccans wear over their normal clothing. It covers the entire body except for the head, the hands and the feet and it comes in different colors, styles and fabrics depending on the season. During summer a cotton or rayon djellaba is preferred, while during winter a wool one. The djellaba is worn traditionally both by men and women, but the women’s djellaba differs in style as it has brighter colors and decorative embroidery. On the other hand, a kaftan looks like the djellaba, but it doesn’t have the hood. The kaftan can be simple for day to day and it can also come in a more elegant and sophisticated style worn by women on weddings or celebrations. It is also the bride’s garment on her wedding day.
- Take a Moroccan cooking class. I’ve taken cooking classes in Paris, and now it’s time to take a cooking class in Morocco. I can ask the concierge where to go, but there’s a cooking class at Riad Monceau that looks really interesting too.
- Visit palaces and museums. The El Bahia Palace, the Palace Dar Si Said, the Saadian Tombs – they’re all on the agenda. To be able to explore museums that were once palaces with magical architecture and tombs of sultans that date back to the 1500s gives me goose bumps.
I don’t know how much more I’ll be able to fit in on such a short trip, but I’m going to go for it all and then some (including a henna tattoo). I just want to be a sponge. But the truth is that there is no way to be certain that I’ll make it to Morocco this fall because as I said up top, things can change on a dime. But I’m planning on it and breaking my own : Zip-your-lips-until-it-hits rule because planning trips and getting excited about it is what floats my boat. Besides, I feel confident that I’ll get there. God willing, as my gramma would say.
Tell me. Have you ever been to Morocco? What was it like? Where in the world haven’t you been that you’d love to go?