Morocco Tour – Marrakesh

May 29, 2024by Brenda

Our spring Morocco group tour has ended and everyone is home and getting back into their regular routines. Our small group covered a lot of ground and saw lots of sights and experienced Morocco on a deeper level than our regular tours.

We arrived in Marrakesh and spent a few days enjoying the city and all it has to offer, including historical sights, the Jem El Fna square, and a small village to the south that was affected by the earthquake. The residents of Ifrouir are all living in tents because their village was completely destroyed. We delivered solar lanterns and stuffed bears for the children on behalf of SCM Medical Missions. We had to change vehicles to a local driver to navigate the still damaged roads and bypasses to get to the village. It will take years to repair everything that was damaged by that earthquake. On the drive to the village we could see other villages that looked untouched while others were just piles of rubble with tent camps nearby. The village we visited is located downhill from the road, closer to the river. The original village was above the road and you can see some photos of what was left. The group was able to interact with the residents of the village who offered us tea and bread after we had handed out the solar lanterns. We learned a bit about their experience during the earthquake, which was quite harrowing. We ended the day with lunch at an herb garden in the Ourika Valley.

Our tour also included Ouarzazate, Erfoud, Merzouga and a desert camp, Fez, Chafchaouen, Rabat, and Casablanca. Highlights of the trip were the cooking class in Marrakesh, the solar lantern distribution in Ifrouir, sunset in the desert, our driver Yassine rescuing a kitten stranded in the middle of a busy road, amazing Moroccan architecture, learning more about the Berbers and their newly revived language in the public sphere, the food, and the very friendly people we met along the way. More on the rest of the cities we visited in the next few posts!

A must-do activity in Marrakesh is to visit Jem El Fna in the evening when all the food vendors are open and try some local street foods. Our guide Yazid got a table in what could be compared to a food court, and then began ordering local favorites for us to sample: soup, vegetables, meat and veggie skewers, bread, etc. This was accomplished by ordering from “runners” from the various food stalls who would then bring back our order and place it all on the table. After a sampling of sweets, we got up to visit a stall that sold escargot soup. This is a popular dish just about everywhere in Morocco and you will see vendors in the souks selling snails to make your own soup. In this case, there are numerous vendors with simmering pots of escargot in broth and they serve it up hot with a pick to get the snail out of the shell. Next to the pots of soup, there is a huge pile of empty shells. I wonder what they do with all those empty snail shells? Not my favorite food of the evening, but others loved it. We finished the evening with fresh fruit juice – the orange juice and the blend were the best!

On our last day in Marrakesh we attended a cooking class at La Maison Arabe. The instructors we very informative and funny. We started with a brief explanation of the main spices used in Moroccan cooking and a traditional Moroccan mint tea service. The reason for the high pour? To aerate the tea and cool it a bit. We each had our own cooking station with the ingredients portioned out and ready for us to chop, mash and cook. It was really fun, and we got to have the results of our efforts for lunch – chicken tagine, zaalook salad (eggplant dip like baba ghanouj), taktouka salad (tomato and green pepper cooked salad) and a milk pudding dessert.

Next, on to the desert!

 

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