I still can’t believe I rode a camel in the Sahara Desert! Pinkish sand surrounded me, with mountains on the horizon, and huge puffy clouds hanging so low they appeared to kiss the tops of the sand dunes, it was breathtaking. Sitting high above the ground on a camel I nicknamed “Dulce,” I looked at the line of camels carrying the rest of the group, and reflected on how it came to be that I was in Morocco with these amazing people.
Two years ago as I was perusing Instagram I landed on a post from WorldTowning about a family that had left their comfortable American life behind to travel the world in an RV they named "Lemonade." I was drawn to the Mom, Jessica, not just because I'm a Mom too, but because her hair had dark pink highlights and she commanded the screen with such ease and realness, I knew she was a Bad A. The rest of the family was pretty cool too. There was her husband Will, that she calls her "hot Latin," their teenage daughter Avalon, and younger son Largo. I became an avid fan and started following their YouTube channel too.
A Worldtowner is someone who takes up temporary residency in another country for more than three months to experience life as a local. I was fascinated with their story and loved following along with them on their journey. Jessica and Will’s rapport and the way they raised their children on the road is inspiring. I was enthralled by stories of their time spent in Morocco as it was on my bucket list. So, when they embarked on a new venture to host a group tour of Morocco, I jumped at the opportunity to join them.
There were 15 others who joined the family in Morocco. We filled our bellies with meats, vegetables, and couscous cooked in tagines, drank gallons of delicious hot mint tea, gorged on breads with jam or honey, and pastries. We spent two weeks traveling a country vibrant with life in a land that awakens all your senses and whose people welcome you with a blessing of peace.
Cultivating Art in the Medina
One of the most famous things that Marrakech is known for are its souks, open-air markets. Bright orange, red, and yellow fabrics blow in the breeze. They display soft leather slippers and patterned poufs pungent with the scent of the tannery on tables and shelves. The Medina's souks throughout Morocco house artisan wares beautifully crafted and cultivated by the local people since the earliest centuries.
On our artisan tour we were immersed in the culture of the country, we watched a woodworker smooth out a piece of olive tree wood, a tile maker chipping away at pieces of a ceramic, and we took part in a homeopathic sensory presentation of naturally produced herbs, teas, oils, and minerals. We left with oils that diminish wrinkles, aphrodisiac tea leaves, and various healing minerals.
Breaking Bread with a Berber Family
One highlight of our trip was spending time with the Berber family that had hosted Jessica, Will, and the kids when they first visited the High Atlas Mountains, check out their 51st episode on YouTube. Our village day was chock-full of moments to connect with local villagers. We laughed with the children and at a very vocal donkey. We ate fresh baked bread, delicious food, took a long hike, crafted tagines, visited a Berber women's textile cooperative, and had quiet time in the restored remains of a medieval Almohad fortress that is now the Tin Mel Mosque.
The Music of Morocco
Music is the heartbeat of a country and is heard across the vast landscape of Africa in the beat of a drum. From the rhythmic drum beat and clapping of hands, to the clash of symbols and singing, the music of Morocco is influenced by the folk music of the Berbers and the hauntingly beautiful influences of an Andalusian style of music.
Music was a part of our trip too. An impromptu performance of charming musicians at our hotel near Dade Gorge dazzled us. The musical troupe had us up on our feet dancing in a conga line, or freestyle, and drumming along with them. We also swapped songs with our hosts in a sing-a-long around the fire in the desert.
Dance is also a huge part of Moroccan musical culture and one of my favorite forms of expression. So I took part in the group dance lessons during our time in Fez. We learned tribal dances that have been passed down through the generations.
Exploring the Blue City
If you visit Morocco, spend some time in the northwest exploring Chefchaouen, also called the "blue city". It is known for its signature blue-washed buildings and I found it to be one of the prettiest cities that we visited. It is a quiet place with a mountain village or beach town feel. It is a great place to relax, browse the local artist's shops, or just to wander its maze of narrow-lane streets.
Here's Looking at You Kid
Our last location was the largest city in Morocco, Casablanca. For many, the city was made famous by the 1945 film, of the city name, starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. While not as charming or picturesque as some other places we visited, the city is home to Hassan II Mosque. The mosque is one of the largest in the world and one of the few that non-Muslims can visit. Partially built on the sea, it is Casablanca’s most recognizable landmarks. Inside its artfully crafted walls, it fits 25,000 worshippers.
No visit to this city would be complete without a visit to Rick's Cafe, a restaurant modelled after the iconic café in the movie Casablanca. It's worth a stop for more than its exquisite atmosphere, as the food is amazingly prepared.
I explored the vast country of Morocco, making friends with my fellow travellers and becoming part of the WorldTowning family. It was the trip of a lifetime and it all started with me liking a post on Instagram.