[All pictures can be found on my Flickr site. See link at left; I am moosicalmath.]
June 1, 2009
Aaagh! We're landing in Madrid at 8:00am.
June 2, 2009
I am in Chefchaouen, Morocco!! It's about 8:15am and Beth is in the shower. :)
(I am now on the rooftop of the FOR house in Al Hoceima.)
We spent several hours in the Madrid Barajas airport, mostly staring at each other in jetlag daze or trying to speak Spanish to random people. We got Euros from the ATM, bought jamon y queso y cafe con leche, and stressed over our luggage and EasyJet's stringent requirements. Praise the Lord--both our carry-on and checked bags passed!
We changed into "Morocco Clothes" before boarding for Tangier. There are guidelines we must follow to be respectful of the conservative Moroccans and the reputation of the Americans of FOR--and to call less attention to ourselves (if that's possible): long, loose pants (or skirts) and long-sleeved, loose shirts that cover our backsides.
Landing in Tangier was incredible. We were in AFRICA. It was hot, dry, and beautiful. In the airport, we were pulled out of the passport control line to visit the health control center. They checked all Americans and Mexicans for swine flu. Yep. We still don't have it. They interrogated us about our plans and wanted addresses for every stop we'd make. We didn't have the addresses, but promised one official to call his cell phone as soon as we got them. It was a fine first visit with the Moroccan police. The gendarme as it were. (We have since learned that one is not allowed to photograph any gov't building or official. Too bad.)
Melodie picked us up and we piled into her truck for the long, long drive. It's seven hours to AH, on windy, dusty, often not-well-paved mountain roads. As she just drove it straight there, we stopped after an hour in Tetouan to get water and ice cream, and after another hour to spend the night in Chefchaouen.
Sights on the road:
We parked outside the medina and found a hotel in the heart of it. The medina is gorgeous! Chefchaouen is famous for its blue doors contrasted by whitewashed walls and brilliantly colored goods in the market. Our hotel was very old, with stone walls and tile floors and wrought iron fixings. Beth and I shared a 650 Dh ($70ish) room whose ceiling was tiled in a blue and red star pattern. The window opened to blue walls leading up to the sky. Beth and I wanted to put the bathroom in our suitcase--it was terra cotta and copper and blue tiled. We heart.
Dinner was served in a restaurant across the stone street. I loved the tables (again, tiled) and couches (sooo cushy). I ate pastilla de pollo (a very Spanish dish, phyllo dough filled with ground chicken, veggies, and spices, topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon), harira (Moroccan tomato-based chicken soup), and flan. People speak a lot of Spanish here (it's just south of Spain, across the Mediterranean). It's fun trying to communicate with my long-forgotten Spanish and my new Arabic words!
After dinner, we walked around the hilly, narrow, stone medina streets and enjoyed the bustling market. (Bustling even in the dark!) Beth and Amy bought wool blankets from a fair trade/co-op stop, and I found a wrought iron hook and green tiled mirror for my new apartment. We also saw (according to Beth, according to Wikipedia on Chefchaouen) the world's ONLY octagonal minaret. Oh yes.
Then, we slept well for ten hours. :)