I wouldn't call my trip to Morocco the worst vacation I've taken, but I would describe it as the worst experience on a vacation I could possibly have. That's not to say it was all bad. For now, though, I will focus on the bad. You see, this vacation is defined by my being robbed twice. I was going to make a little video describing the misadventures but I no longer have a camera. And I'm too lazy to figure out Flash. Instead...click here for the story
Back to the good:
· The BEST orange juice I've had in my life. For around 30 cents a glass I had the orange semen of the gods in my mouth at least twice a day every day.
· The couchsurfers we stayed with were really nice. Madrid was cool. We drank 3 litres of sangria on our last night for only 15 euros. You know how I love sangria!
· The awful sunburn I got has given me some awesome freckles! Seriously, I have these new, very noticeable freckles around my nose and I love them. Plus, I forgot that I look kind of good with some color. I always say it's the Indian in me. I may not be able to get those scholarships, but I can get some Native American pigmentation!
· I was able to speak French more consistently, comfortably and confidently for two weeks than I've been able to in France this whole time.
· Losing all my money means I didn't have to fret about souvenirs!
· Having three bikes, two cameras and one wallet (twice) stolen makes me think my secret wish to lose everything and remove all my attachment to objects should come true. Does that mean garage sale when I get back?
· Aside from the thieves and pushy salesmen, everyone else in the country was incredibly friendly and helpful. Though Julia would pull my arm to get me to stop talking to someone who would just randomly say "Hello/Bonjour" (since a few sentences later some would then ask for money), I got to talk to and get helped by some nice Moroccans.
· Awesome couscous! (The famous Marakechi tanjia isn't anything to write home about though. Hint: it's just roast beef cooked for four hours.)
When I come back to the US in just over two weeks, wow!, I will be at the edge of my planned life. From August of 2001 I've known what I'd do until May of 2005 and in the meantime that got extended to May of 2007. For the first time in my life I don't have any concrete plans. This is terrifying and liberating. I thought of this while on the train between Marrakech and Casablanca and started writing things I wanted to do, subjects I wanted to study (I thought about school again) and places I wanted to visit or live. I felt excited and inspired about the future again for the first time in a long, long time. I've been happy with what I've done. But I've felt like I signed up for, say, Basketball Camp years in advance and when it was time for camp I had to go because I already paid the dues and it was expensive. Now I get to choose what camp I want to go to based on my immediate, though well-considered, whims. And that starts this summer. Feel the excitement!
Pictures that Julia took!
I first have to get another confession off my chest. When I was in London alone I didn't take many pictures. I didn't see the point of photographing places that have better pictures available on the web. I began to see tourist photography as a Pokemon-like phenomenon and it angered me. I didn't have a friend to take pictures of/with so it was pointless. This then got me depressed that I was traveling alone and visiting the sites that I just wanted to see that was an extension of the "gotta' catch (see) 'em all" philosophy, which is dumb. "Okay, I saw Big Ben. But did I get to enjoy and discuss my travels a companion. Did I really see/live/enjoy London?" No. Okay, the guy I couchsurfed with was really fun and we saw some cool stuff, but I'll never see him again."
What I'm getting at is, I miss having my friends around. I miss going places with you, taking pictures with you (that sounds lame typed out) and enjoying your company. This makes me fear I'll never make more friends, but I think I've just been slightly misanthropic here and have high standards that can't be met in France. Hopefully...
I like how Julia included this picture of the slum around the 3rd largest mosque in the world, in Casablanca. We were told they basically kicked all the homeless out and built a mosque. We went on a tour of this with an elderly racist Israeli-American couple living in Texas but on sabbatical and visiting Morocco for a month before they could return to Europe because of their 90-day visa expiring. The guy, Ramon, said to me, "It's like that song. The 'Silence Song' where he sings, 'Islam like a cancer grows.' Well, those are the lyrics I use."
They really do like this shape for doors (found at the kasbah).
The Chellah was hellah awesome. Better than the Kasbah.
Doesn't that cloud look like a flying chicken or something?
More Chellah. I asked for directions and pronounced the "ch" like Challah bread. Oops.
Disrespect. This is not the oldest mosque in the world, as the hotel manager said. It's old, yes. But go Allahu akhbar elsewhere.
I do like sewer covers. And after being robbed twice I decided to think that at least they're idiots who can't spell their own city name.
The best part about this museum was not the art that looked like it belonged on velvet and sold at flea markets, but was this awesome interior patio. And that kid.
Julia at Place Djemaa el Fna. Orange juice, olives, henna, fake snake charmers, you name it. This is in the center of the medina of Marrakech. Quite fun/impressive, really. Outside it you find 'souks' where people sell all their wares and you haggle with them...which I hate...especially in French. I tried to bargain once, when I had about 40 euros left, but walked out. The guy followed me and offered another deal. I apologized for not having the money and Julia said I was being too nice.
Look at me! I'm just like Obama! I'm in a Madrassa!
Ooh, Atlas mountains. Last afternoon at our b&b (had great/bizarre, foreign satellite porn) in a Berber village to the south of Marrakech. I'm still ready to get the eff out of this country.
Madrid's Retiro Park: El Ángel Caído- The EasyJet magazine told me this is believed to be the only statue of the devil in the world.