Thanks to France's two-week Spring Break, I just went to Morocco for a week to visit a friend and, of course, to be in Morocco for a week. We stayed in Rabat, with a day trip to Casablanca and Mohammedia, and didn’t go a single place else. Before it was over, someone told me that I hadn’t gotten to see “real” Morocco. Well, oh well.
Part of the reason we stayed in one place was because Molly, my dear friend and hostess, had to work all week except for the one day in Casa. Were I a more motivated traveler, I could’ve planned my own two or three day jaunt in Marrakech or Fez. I’m no stranger to solo travelling, and it would have been an opportunity for me to have a little adventure, and for her to have a little peace, although she's too gracious to ever indicate that she would need it. But I didn’t do that, choosing instead to glue myself to her and her boyfriend Abdullah’s side for the length of my stay. Aside from when I was a toddler on family vacations, led by my mother’s hand from canoe to cabin, this was my laziest and most complacent trip yet. I’d highly recommend it.
We hopped in grand taxis, hip to hip in the front seat while 3-6 passengers squeezed in the single row behind, paid the equivalent of a few dollars to get to the center of town, meandered around the faded blue and white kasbah, sipped sweet mint tea by the sea, squeezed through the medina, sat in each other’s lap in the taxi ride back, made a tagine with her boyfriend for dinner, and watched Queer Eye until bed, with Arabic subtitles on for Abdullah. This was the basic daily structure, give or take various attractions such as the trip to Casablanca, seeing the Chellah, or getting scrubbed down naked in a hammam by a patient Moroccan woman while I misunderstood her directions and sputtered water everywhere. I also gorged myself on cookies and bread, my favorite being Rghayef with a triangle of plain Laughing Cow cheese smeared on and folded over.
While it sounds like a good amount of activity when I squeeze a week into a paragraph, I had much more down time than I usually have when travelling, mostly in the evenings when Molly worked. Each time I told myself that I’d get out and do a some exploring on my own, and every time I stayed in and spent a little time writing, a lot of time watching trash youtube. Molly was usually just working in 90 minute blocks, which wasn’t enough time to make me feel too guilty for sitting at home, but one evening when she worked from 4-8, with the day’s 4th call to prayer buzzing in the air and all of Morocco going on outside, I stood in her kitchen binge eating leftover cake with a spoon. I can’t even use exhaustion as an excuse. I didn’t need to rest, I felt fine. I’m just a homebody, regardless of whose home it is.
So when one of Molly’s students asked me about my stay in order to practice her English, then told me that places like Marrakech were the real best of Morocco--out of a kind desire to inform, not out of spite--I did feel somewhat guilty, as though I’d traveled incorrectly. At the same time, it was a wonderful week, and I came out of it with nothing but good memories and nice lil souvenirs. So would I have been glad to have made more of an effort to be independent and push myself into a bigger adventure? Well, yeah, probably. I’d at least have more fodder for being your next party’s typical travel asshole, telling everyone within a five foot radius about when I was hypnotized by the impossibly blue eyes of a snake charmer’s cobra--that is, when I actually get up and go to parties instead of standing in my kitchen, binge eating leftover cake with a spoon.
But I’m much happier to have stayed in Rabat with one of my best friends, taking it slow and catching up more deeply than we’ve been able to do in years, seeing her daily life, meeting her students, getting to know her boyfriend, and of course their pet squirrel, even if it did poop on my iPhone.