Discovery Morocco! The diary of my trip to the North African country

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references

The nothing that becomes a lot, that becomes everything.
Few times will you experience the feeling of freedom? what will I generate? this country that will give you? incredible sunsets, sunrises, starry skies.
Unique landscapes, like those you will encounter when you slowly approach the desert, among small villages, red rocks and lands that will never seem to end.
Get ready for the color of the sand, what will it be? illuminated by a warm sun, will it seem to you? to be on another planet instead? this, our, and? really amazing.
Angelo Vecchione (@ A.lifeintravel).

1 day

Starting from Avellino with a bus that took 250 hours to travel 5 km, I headed between one change and the other at Rome Ciampino airport, where after a short security check there was a plane waiting for me, direction Marrakech , my first time (surprisingly, I know ..) on the African continent.
3 hours and 30 of flight, fortunately I took the right seat on the plane, I put the headphones on and turn up the volume, they quickly pass between one thought and another.
Arrival in Marrakech around 21pm.
Another security check, yet another with a form to fill out in French, isn't it? a language known to me, I ask for advice and somehow compile it.
I pass the control, short walk towards the exit, turn my head to the right and after seeing the writing? Marrakech Menara? I realize I am there, I set foot in Africa for the first time in my life.
Let this new experience begin!
? the moment to reach the booked apartment, I use a taxi (rather cheap).
The taxi driver initially says he has understood the destination to take me to, later for? has various difficulties? in finding the right address .. makes several phone calls and after 20 minutes, I see the owner of the apartment appear and welcome me to the city, found !.
I arrange my backpack and hide valuables in the house (which clearly has no safes) since,? accessible from the outside in a simple way (the door has a completely free upper passage).
I go down, I decide to bring with me a little money, nothing besides my mobile phone and a hundred Dirhams (I want to get familiar with the place), I walk towards a street, after 300 meters with a chaos but at the same time with a growing BPM , arriving at El Fna Square, the main square and symbol of the city.
The square ? an absurd mixture of sounds, lights and smells.
There are people who stop me everywhere, everyone wants to offer me something, I do not trust anyone, but I realize that the confusion I was expecting is not? minimally comparable to the infinite that c ?? .. what an impact, guys!
At a certain time I start to feel hungry, I stop in a makeshift restaurant and eat something before walking home.
Back, I meet a guy who tries to stop me, particularly insistent, I try not to stop but suddenly I realize that? almost impossible, he keeps following me asking where my apartment was and saying other things in Arabic that I clearly don't understand.
I pretend I have to go back, I use an alternative route and I turn it off.
He had no good intentions.
Back home, I breathe a sigh of relief and fall into a deep sleep due to my travel fatigue.

2 day

Wake up early, isn't there ?? too much time to sleep, especially when traveling !.
Backpack on your shoulder and reflex at your neck, let's go!
Short breakfast (pleasant, based on Croissants and orange juice) in a bar near my apartment, I find a cheap taxi and head to the Saadian tombs.
A garden with a mausoleum where the bodies of the servants and warriors of the Saadian dynasty are buried.
Besides that, in the main mausoleum, the tomb in which? Sultan Ahmad Al Mansur is buried.
A nice place, but very busy.
I continue towards Palais de la Bahia, a place considered to be a true architectural masterpiece, one of the main in the country.
Entering I am struck by the many mosaics and the many colors that decorate the building, I ask for a photo of a boy who, not very sensitive, almost breaks my reflex.
I continue among the many rooms (full of mosaics, but empty ..) of the complex, I look at the garden and head towards the exit.
Going out, in the square near the building, I stop in a restaurant to eat something, nothing like that? pleasant.
I decide to go back to Jamaa El Fna, to see the square in broad daylight, do I realize that the square within 10 hours? totally changed, the speed is impressive? with which the vendors move the stalls ..
The square during the day? chock full of performers, lots of snake charmers, leashed monkeys (not a pretty sight) and various subjects looking for a daily income.
The fantasy prize is won by a guy who stops people with a scale (which I think works very little) asking them to weigh themselves for a few coins.
I decide to make up for some time using the carriage with horses, after a long negotiation I arrive at almost 50% discount compared to the price they asked me initially, I accept and start the tour in the city, 2 hours in which I see the new part, the palm grove and one of the most? poor of the city.
I'm not surprised by the new area, where wealth reaches high levels, but? I am incredibly struck by the poor area, where I see people trying to sell anything, from used and badly reduced clothes, to objects of all kinds (perhaps some deriving from theft), up to those who make me sad, a gentleman who sells bread recovered from the garbage.
What? like the children and the elderly of that area, people who sleep on the ground, who have no home or? the slightest prospect of Life.
A few meters away, wealth, an imaginary frontier where the poor do not even enter, luxury hotels, casinos, presidential villas including that of Sarcos? and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Eye why? if you take the carriage to visit the palm grove, suddenly the coachman will stop? with the excuse of letting the horses rest in a space where there are camels and their owners, ready to offer you a salty excursion.

I come home with a bitter taste in my mouth.

A shower, a short rest and I go down again, to El Fna square which changes every hour,? amazing how many lights, how many artists there are in the evening, after 8.
Rest there? between lights and artists to enjoy the moment, then I pass to the Gueliz district (the new district of the city?) for a fanta at the MC and I return home, where I lose myself in sleep and in some thought.

3 day

Wake up early and typical breakfast in the riad, today more day? loose, I go out towards Souk, the characteristic market of the city.
After a kilometer on foot I enter the area where the market begins from El Fna square.
I am immediately impressed by the quantity? of shops and street vendors that are in the area, sells everything, from wooden products to food, spices with their infinity cannot be missing. of perfumes.
Every seller stops you to offer you something in their shop, the prices? Seem? high, they usually offer high prices and then negotiate.
With a minimum of skill? in the bargaining you can? get a discount of 50% or more.
Suddenly I meet a guy who offers me to visit his linen production, in the end in addition to taking me to his factory, he takes me to his shop (site far from all the others), I buy a red shawl for the days in the desert that waiting for me.
Immediately after I stop for a tea? in a place where I know a very dynamic Australian volunteer, very Free mind.
Subsequently, I decide to leave the market area, an infinite network of streets in which? really easy to get lost, but thanks to a map and a good orientation gained over the years I can get out.
I eat fast food at a rather cheap restaurant, next to the restaurant there? a used camera shop, I decide to go in and see the products on offer but I immediately realize that none of the employees speak English, I laughed a lot when they mobilized half a neighborhood to try to understand me, looking for a person who could be my translator.
In the end, a little? reluctantly, I don't buy anything.
In the early afternoon I go back to the Souk area to visit the Koranic school which, however, after a stressful search, I find closed for renovation.
Shortly after I realize that trying to get out of the labyrinth of that area, a boy follows me, after a few minutes ago the same another who tells me to follow a clearly closed road to return to El Fna, beginners! I don't go in and I avoid being robbed.
Once out I take the taxi for the last visit of the day, the Majorelle gardens, a botanical garden located in the new area of ​​Marrakech, famous for the colors of the structures that compose it together with the cacti from various parts of the world.
The prevailing color? blue, too bad not to have a reflex with me at that moment.
After the visit that I very much appreciated at the Majorelle, I go back to Riad for a tea? and a short rest, a video call with Italy and a quick shower.
Last evening in Marrakech, I head towards the new area, have dinner in a cozy restaurant with a nice ma? Tre and take a stroll on foot to breathe the atmosphere of the city? for the last time.
While I walk I realize that in the city? there are many contradictions, religion imposes many limitations but in some neighborhoods these do not exist.
In some areas prostitution reaches high levels, the same goes for the dealing of drugs.
Day over, Marrakech, beautiful city, but you can? improve, can you? to encourage tourism by protecting tourists.
Hope this will happen? soon.

4 day

My day starts early, around 6 and a half in the morning are already? awake, I prepare my backpack and leave, a 4? 4 awaits me at Jamaa El fna Square, the square in the morning? crowded with tourists heading to Zagora or Merzouga (my destination).
Time for a coffee? and I meet Mohammed, sar? my driver in the next 2 days, seems a rather sunny person, speaks various languages ​​including a little? of Italian, ? Berber, his home and his family are in Merzouga, a pi? 500 km from civilization.
During the trip to the Atlas Mountains we chat, he talks to me about the fact that he doesn't like the city, too chaotic, he loves his village and the desert, the tranquility.
We arrive in the red mountains along an incredible road, often bumpy, during the climb we meet various street vendors of minerals, some elderly people, even to be photographed they ask for money, their quality? of Life? very low.
I meet an old man with a face marked by the hardships of a life, I take the opportunity to photograph him.
Arrived at the top of the climb there? a suggestive panoramic view, in addition to the classic sign with the altitude (more than 2000 meters above sea level) and the name of the climb.
After a quick photo, we set off downhill towards Ait Ben Haddou, a spectacular village where major films are often shot (films have been shot including? Gladiator,? Indiana Jones? And? Game of Thrones?), Time to Ait really seems to have stopped, the houses are entirely made of soil, to reach the town you have to pass a water course in which there are always children who spend the day helping tourists to overcome the stream in exchange for money or of any other object.
It is not very convenient to go to Ait in hot times, the temperature? particularly high.
Arriving at the top of the fortress, a beautiful panoramic view over the new part of the city? and on the surrounding desert areas.
I go to lunch in a restaurant recommended by my driver, I eat typical dishes based on vegetables and meat, precarious hygiene because of the flies, but the taste? good, satisfied !.
After lunch we go to Ourzazate, the Hollywood of Africa, a real city? where is it ? evident the western economic influence, not surprisingly there? the only supermarket that sells alcohol (prohibited elsewhere) within 300 km.
Short visit to the various locations of famous film sets and off to the hotel direction at the Dades gorge.
Unfortunately, suddenly a stone accidentally ends up on the front window of the car, damaged, you have to change it, I remain on foot for about forty minutes, what anxiety !. Time to change the glass and luckily my driver comes back to pick me up.
As soon as I get back in the car I fall asleep and wake up a few kilometers from the hotel, where I am welcomed with a good tea.
Dinner and sleep already thinking? what awaits me tomorrow.
Indeed no, why? I realize I have lost my room keys and the hotel managers took a long time to find a duplicate.
Once I have found the duplicate I can finally go to bed and rest.
Tomorrow Erg chebbi.
To us two.

5 day

A relaxed good morning, I tried to sleep the most? possible, at 9 am I go to have breakfast at the hotel, clearly delayed compared to my schedule which provided for departure at that time.
At 9 and 30 I leave for what will be? definitely a key day of my trip.
I leave with the awareness that this day could be one of the most? beautiful that I can live in my life, this is why? what will I see? ? one of the most? evocative of the planet and I chose to see it in its true heart, Merzouga, trying to live one day as a Berber.
At 9 am in the off-road vehicle, between me and Erg chebbi c ?? the gorge of Dades, of red rocks incredibly close together.
As soon as I arrive at the visiting point via a rough road, I start my walk towards the most important point. tight, every 2 meters c ?? some elderly person who sells something or who perhaps asks for some money, even in exchange for a photo.
I shoot some on the fly why? I feel definitely struck by their faces, but also by the most? young people, by children.
In the middle of the gorge passes a water course in which the locals look for minerals or maybe collect water that I really don't know how they drink given its color which makes me think it is not drinkable.
Definitely a place to visit .. especially for the people you can meet.
I finish this short visit and go to the last stage of my day, the most? perhaps important of the whole trip, the Sahara.
I stop in a local restaurant for a chicken lunch and shortly after step in a Berber shop to buy a local product, I do it above all to support this population, too often not supported by the Moroccan government.
After this last stop, we are, 3 hours by car towards Merzouga, with great heat and a landscape that never seems to change, but suddenly, after these three hours the landscape changes, and how it does change!
My heartbeat increases and the rocks turn into sand, into dunes that become more and more? high.

At some point my driver tells me that? the time has come to leave the asphalt, the time to go off-road, we go there.
After about a kilometer, in front of me the indescribable spectacle of the dunes, whole herds of dromedaries moving from one side to the other of a sand that smacks of infinity.
Arrived at the base camp I get on a dromedary (strange feeling but luckily I ride a horse so I have a minimum of base) to get to my village where c ?? my tent in which will pass? the night.
An hour of walking on the dromedary (I would say not very comfortable ..) between one dune and another, my level of enthusiasm grows more and more? for the particularity? of the place in front of my eyes.
The dromedary? of a crazy strength, capable of carrying everything, even on the most? steep.
I arrive at the village, the Berbers who have lived here for a lifetime are waiting for me, they greet me inviting me to sit down and relax after the long journey I have faced, they will forgive me but .. I refuse their invitation, the sun is setting and I want to witness all of this.
There is little time left and I have to walk to the top of a rather high dune, at one point I start running with a considerable effort, I almost can't stand my legs, somehow I reach the top, In time, as soon as I arrive I remain speechless, I almost feel like crying, the sunset pi? nice that I've ever seen, something that? really reductive even just trying to describe, infinitely spectacular.
I take some pictures but I realize that the reflex has stopped working through manual shutter, a real shame why? I could have taken better, but I don't care, my eyes and my memory are enough, what will I bring? forever this imprinted moment.
After the sun? after sunset, I go back to the camp, where I meet the other travelers who are in the village, two Americans (one of whom, Corvino, who speaks Italian and loves Italy) and two Japanese, with whom I exchange a few chats while drinking a good tea. offered by the Berber population of the village.
It is dinner time, we eat some local food, a dish based on vegetables, carrots and potatoes.

At the end of the meal? the moment of traditional Berber music, we start dancing and at a certain point a guy gives me his seat and I start playing with them, memorable !.
A solarity, that of the Berbers, which I can only define as? Inherited from the sun? that always beats strongly in the desert, ah I forgot, during the day it was quite hot, but I paid little attention to it, there was more to think about.
After dinner, dancing and my funny performance, the Berbers go to sleep and greet us, the same goes for the other travelers .. and me? what I do?
Clearly what I feel like doing, I feel I have to enjoy the moment, the full moon, the stars that shine like never before, I walk into the desert at night, I sit on top of a dune and think:? Fuck, I arrived too here, I did it, also this time .. ".
After a while? of time I go back to the tent and try to sleep, thinking about beautiful things, thinking about things seen, seen for real.

6 day

At the camp the insects start to annoy, the tent? gorgeous but the bites on my skin less, which is why I don't sleep well, happiness? inside me ? a lot, cos? like the tiredness that leads me from time to time to fall asleep again every time I wake up.
At about 6 the alarm goes off, I get dressed in a hurry, I'm late, waiting for the caravan with dromedaries and Berbers.
Arrival, we begin to walk up to a key point where you can? see the sunrise, the rising sun fills me with light, makes me feel good, its color envelops me and makes me feel less alone, more? close to my me, more? far from my thousand fears that had accompanied me during the period preceding my journey, my departure.
At that moment I keep repeating to myself:? I succeeded, I did this too, I saw the greatest desert on the planet, I witnessed a unique sunrise, which only in that place can you? to see.?
Well ..? truly a victory, my victory, my umpteenth revenge.
After the end of dawn, after taking some pictures despite the malfunctioning reflex camera, I return to the base camp which is located at the gates of the dunes area, there. I find Mohammed, my driver, quick breakfast that creates a stomach ache and departure.
? the time to say goodbye to a place that I think hardly see again? in my life, some places? just the good memories remain.
They will remain etched in my mind, my next goals are others.
I head towards Fez! last leg of my journey, between me and the last city? of Morocco that I have to visit there are 9 hours by car, the first three I face by focusing on the sensations I felt in the last two days trying to process them .. then a bit? of music, a quick lunch in a restaurant in a small town where for a change I eat chicken, (despite the annoyance of the many flies present in that place) after which? I leave, I sleep up to the? mountain of the monkeys ?, place where I stop and after a search in the woods (the landscape has changed, now it is very green) I can also see a family of macaques of which I take some photos.
I am tired and I know that a particular situation awaits me in Fez, my riad is not located in a quiet area, I fall asleep again and wake up at the gates of the city, the new part seems quiet but when I arrive at my riad I realize the very high level of poverty, of present delinquency.
Fortunately, waiting for me c ?? the owner of the riad, who subsequently takes me to eat some meat that I eat very hard, hygienic condition equal to zero, the manager of the restaurant in preparing my table I realize that he takes the used glass from another table that had just set free.
I don't think about it, I can't think about it.
I arrive at the riad and since? already? quite late and that my strength is residual, I decide not to go out.
I sit in the lounge of the riad and the owner tries in every way to talk about his religion, but he takes the concepts to the extreme so much that he doesn't get much of my attention.
So you decided to go up to the terrace first for a short but intense panoramic view of the city? and then in the room and rest, tomorrow there will be? as always so much to walk !.

7 day

Last day of travel, the city? living in the past, Fez !.
Wake up early, having already? heard about the Medina of Fez, I decide to rely on a local who can guide me in the old part of the city, a real labyrinth, with over 9000 very narrow streets, travel without a guide in Fez? highly inadvisable, get lost? the best thing that is likely to happen.
At around 9 am then, after a quick breakfast, I meet Abdullah near my riad, a gentleman of about 55, quite polite, who speaks 5 languages ​​even though he has only studied two.
? really true that you can? grow as a person while not having great possibilities? economic.
Following our presentation, I begin the visit to the medina, I immediately realize the difficulty? to orient oneself in the narrow streets that characterize it, they are really all the same, full of street vendors and shops, the vendors unlike Marrakech are much less pressing, the streets are clearly not accessible to cars and the means of transport more? used are donkeys that walk freely in the street at night.
I visit the Madrasa, the shops of various local artisans who produce products in cotton, bronze and leather, then (speaking of leathers) I visit the Chouara Tannery tanneries, an incredible open-air leather factory, here they are colored with natural colors skins of various kinds, at the entrance I am given a sprig of mint to which initially I do not attach much importance but later I realize that? fundamental given the rather unpleasant smells that come from the coloring tanks.
I am struck by the absurd conditions of the workers, the level of hygiene equal to zero, some work in the tanks in close contact with the colors, rather strong scenes, even in the rest of the medina similar situation, precarious hygienic conditions.
After the visit to the tannery, lunch in a restaurant of a friend of Abdullah, who opens the restaurant just for me (He had no other customers), I head towards Blue Gate (place to take good photos) and then the Jewish quarter (now no longer inhabited by Jews).
A long walk that ends with a less formal chat with Abdullah, who talks to me about his life, about the fact that he never had the chance? to leave Morocco, to travel, she has two children whom she prefers for the moment to put first by guaranteeing them education and therefore a future different from that which is up to many children and young people who are born and grow up in the old part of the city.
Also I strongly recommend not to go out in the evening in the area of ​​the Medina where my riad is located, c ?? a sort of curfew in Fez, at nightfall, after 21pm, the Medina turns into a very dangerous place, frequented by criminals and too many people with problems related to alcohol and various drugs.
We say goodbye with a hug, the last request that Abdullah makes of me? inherent to his city, which he loves so much, he asks me to speak well of it and to encourage Western travelers to visit it.
My answer ? clearly positive, done Abdullah deal, with pleasure! (if you want Abdullah's contact to guide you in the Medina do not hesitate to contact me).
I return to the riad after this great leap into the past, which I recommend (with careful precautions) to do to all those who want to visit a place that could definitely make you understand many things, maybe even understand which destinations will be more? suitable for you for your future travels.
A quick chicken dinner (as almost always), my last tea? Moroccan (absolutely delicious, wherever you are served in the country), some night photos from the terrace to the city? illuminated after which? I lose myself in my deep sleep after a week of travel.
IS? it was incredible, a journey with strong emotions, high beats, made of smiles, hugs, magnificent places.
Heartfelt thanks Morocco, you made me a better person!
See you soon, backpack on your shoulder, always.

Audio Video Discovery Morocco! The diary of my trip to the North African country
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