Next in Our Imagine Series: Morocco

Imagine…

you hear the muezzin’s call to prayer, you can almost smell the ginger.  You are lured down the sloping Tala’a Kbiraf  into the crumbling medina, deep in the heart of Fez.

The mayhem of this Moroccan souk quickly swallows you.  It’s a teeming and twisting warren where tables of goat heads and homemade soap are crammed alongside crates of chickens whose squawks compete with the clang of artisan tools from the ceramic studio.   Mules laden with gas tanks plow through the narrowing pathways, as shouting schoolboys careen between them, their backpacks swinging. You melt into a stream of humanity between djellaba-clad mothers and shopkeepers, and, alongside your Berber guide, you begin to market.

Today you are on a journey to learn the art of tagine cooking.  The market’s scents of rosewater and white artichokes fresh from the earth envelope you as you sort through quince and test aubergines for ripeness.  You select a chicken from the feathered flurry of the pen, then gratefully accept the vendor’s offer to deftly slice the neck and de-feather it for you in the nearby boiling pot.

Wafting scents of fiery cumin and warm cinnamon draw you to the neighboring stall where you weigh out grams of spices to create your own Ras el Hanout, a blend translated as Top of the Shelf that will be the secret to your delectable tagine.   Back at your guide’s Ottoman-style home, called a riad, you chop and sauté all your new ingredients and the kitchen fills with an exotic aroma.  You know that this dish will be unlike any beef stew you have ever made.

And then there’s the khobz, or flat bread.   You knead the dough, but in an ancient neighborhood where homes rarely had their own ovens, you take your tray out into the bustling medina, to the nearby community oven.  For a few dirhams, the baker shoves your bread into the wood-fired oven, to bake next to your neighbors’ cookies.

During your week in Fez, you mingle with bidders at the rug auction and meet with a seamstress to have a caftan custom made.  You sip steaming mint tea as your foot taps to the alluring beat of a drum circle, and you treat yourself to a steam bath in the communal hammam.

You have practically become a local!

That was a trip of a lifetime!”, you say.   “Let’s do it again next year!”

If Morocco is not your dream destination, then join me next month for a sail through the Galapagos Islands.

Til then,

Rare Finds Travel Design

…sometimes rustic, often luxurious, but always unique!

 

Next in Our Imagine Series: Exploring the Desert of Morocco

Dear Thom and Tammy,

Imagine…

 You slept like a sultan in the desert.

The evening before,  your guide, Rashid, and his pair of wooly dromedaries had met your 4-wheel drive at the edge of Morocco’s Chegaga dunes.  The two camels, honking to each other as their boxy feet plodded, step after sinking step, carried you into the shifting coppery sands of the Sahara.

The desert dunes closed in behind you.  It was apparent, as you rode past endless, unmarked knolls, how easy it would be to get lost here.  Inshallah, God willing, Rashid’s camels know the way to your camp and will deliver you there safely.

You passed through desert dunes that the wind had shaped into a tableau of a tawny tossed sea.  Undulating furrows of sand lined up like a set of small waves, and at the crest, a ridge had been whipped to a backbone so sharp that single grains of sand danced along the surface in the evening’s breeze.  

The shadows of your camels and nomad guide stretched taller in the sinking sun of the desert.  And then, you arrived at camp.

Your tent – white canvas with swirling black trim – was ready for you, complete with a king bedstead atop layers of handwoven carpets, and even running water at a brass sink bowl and in the hot shower.  But first, you must be properly received with a traditional mint tea service.

You were led into a three-sided, colorfully-patterned tent and seated on a rough, tightly-woven deep-red Berber rug.  By the glow of a bonfire, a young Bedouin appears, silver tray in hand, clothed in a sky-blue djellaba and turban, coiled atop his head like a cobra, its fine, cream edging contrasting crisply with his deeply tanned face. He gives you a wide smile as he pours a two-foot stream of steaming mint tea into petite green-tinted glasses.

 

Welcome to the desert.

 

After your desert camp, two days of High Atlas wonders stand between you and the chaotic cobra-filled square of Marrakech.  You’ll wander through rural Berber markets – the hammering cobbler next to the bloody butcher next to the hooded man vending a mountain of tangerines.  You’ll stand beneath the hypnotic string of arches of a UNESCO-protected mosque from the 1400’s, and hike to humble valley villages to share a tagine lunch in the home of a Berber family.   At the mud-bricked kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, as you’ll walk beneath the arch made famous from Lawrence of Arabia, you can almost see Peter O’Toole disappearing on his horse into the rocky wasteland.

But for tonight, you drift off to sleep, sheltered within dunes, under a powdered sugar sky full of stars, the muffled lullaby of Nomad drums pulsing in your dreams.

That was a trip of a lifetime”, you say.  “Let’s do it again next year, inshallah”.

Sharing the love of travel,

Rare Finds Travel!

 

Next in Our Imagine Series: Morocco

Imagine…

Morocco!

You hear the muezzin’s call to prayer, you can almost smell the ginger.  You are lured down the sloping Tala’a Kbiraf  into the crumbling medina, deep in the heart of Fez.

The mayhem of this Moroccan souk quickly swallows you.  It’s a teeming and twisting warren where tables of goat heads and homemade soap are crammed alongside crates of chickens whose squawks compete with the clang of artisan tools from the ceramic studio.   Mules laden with gas tanks plow through the narrowing pathways, as shouting schoolboys careen between them, their backpacks swinging. You melt into a stream of humanity between djellaba-clad mothers and shopkeepers, and, alongside your Berber guide, you begin to market.

Today you are on a journey to learn the art of tagine cooking.  The market’s scents of rosewater and white artichokes fresh from the earth envelope you as you sort through quince and test aubergines for ripeness.  You select a chicken from the feathered flurry of the pen, then gratefully accept the vendor’s offer to deftly slice the neck and de-feather it for you in the nearby boiling pot.

Wafting scents of fiery cumin and warm cinnamon draw you to the neighboring stall where you weigh out grams of spices to create your own Ras el Hanout, a blend translated as Top of the Shelf that will be the secret to your delectable tagine.   Back at your guide’s Ottoman-style home, called a riad, you chop and sauté all your new ingredients and the kitchen fills with an exotic aroma.  You know that this dish will be unlike any beef stew you have ever made.

And then there’s the khobz, or flat bread.   You knead the dough, but in an ancient neighborhood where homes rarely had their own ovens, you take your tray out into the bustling medina, to the nearby community oven.  For a few dirhams, the baker shoves your bread into the wood-fired oven, to bake next to your neighbors’ cookies.

During your week in Fez, you mingle with bidders at the rug auction and meet with a seamstress to have a caftan custom made.  You sip steaming mint tea as your foot taps to the alluring beat of a drum circle, and you treat yourself to a steam bath in the communal hammam.

You have practically become a local!

That was a trip of a lifetime!”, you say.   “Let’s do it again next year!”

If Morocco is not your dream destination, then join me next month for a sail through the Galapagos Islands.

Til then,

Rare Finds Travel Design

…sometimes rustic, often luxurious, but always unique!