Category Archives: Morocco

Hurcules Caves

What did the Berbers do? Well these guys created some pretty cool caves, I know that much!
Being in Morocco I sure did learn a lot about the Berber civilization I once knew absolutely nothing about. Between their language, their customes, and their amazing nomad roots, it was amazing to experience a completely new culture. Morocco isn’t completely Arab ya’know! you’d really be surprised!

Here’s something in particular I really fancied: the Hercules Caves of Tangier Morocco! It started out as a natural small cave with just two opening, but upon discovery of it with the Berber tribes, it was soon carved and created into something considerably larger!

Tourists simply stayed high, taking some pictures and being on their way. No way was that enough for me. I just HAD to get my paws down into the cave area! I was pretty high up, and you look down to cave openings, ridges, and water (which sadly it was low tide, but at high tide people actually dive in!) I changed into a pair of shorts, and climbed my way down! It was an amazing experience! I ducked my way into small areas, local fishermen chuckled at me, I climbed my way out into the ocean area to see the waves crashing into the caves. For a moment, as cliche as this sounds, I really felt one with the sea. Punctured feet and scraped knees later, I climbed my way to the top. Thank god my friends were there to pull me up. Getting down there was truly the easiest…

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To the Emergency room!

Warning: the following blog post is gross, and only sounds as bad as you make it. (no pictures though)

Day one: it’s just an ant bite…
Day three: Why is it still here? God that’s annoying
Day four: …this is starting to hurt
Day five: DEAR GOD WHAT’S HAPPENING TO MY LEG.

Ant bite..I wish. I got snagged by a spider, an extremely poisonous spider at that.
on day four it began to hurt a lot, but still I thought perhaps it was just an ant bite that got bitten again or something (as it started out pretty small) but the next morning when I could barely walk or sit correctly, I became concerned. It was a deal breaker to go to the hospital when I took a peak at it in the school’s bathroom and noticed it was turning blue/black, spreading, and seeping a strange thick bloody substance.

I talked to the school and they arranged for me to have a driver. First we went to the pharmacy to have a pharmacist look at it, and say if it just needs cream. Sadly, the bite is near my bum (upper leg) so I have to remove my pants to do this…but I was happy to see a female pharmacist. She took a look at it and said I needed to get to a doctor as soon as possible. Greeeeeeat.

I go to the doctors office, limping and in extreme pain from the bite as it is rapidly getting worse and worse. I am seen by a doctor in about 5 minutes; so far so good. Except no female doctors around. Sorry dude. He takes one look at tells me it is a spider bite that is filled with quickly spreading poison, and beginning to rot (in other words, necrosis) I am still not sure why it took 5 days, maybe I just got bit in the same place, who knows. The doctor then preceded to tell me that they need to remove the poison as soon as possible to keep it from spreading. I lay face first on a table-bed thing, luckily my bum is covered at this point (of course GETTING to that point was awkward enough) and he begins poking the bite, asking if it hurts. I don’t know where he poked me, but I didn’t feel anything. I tell him no, all is good, maybe i’m going numb. He then proceeds to squeeze the bite and oh my god you don’t know the pain. If that wasn’t enough he had to poke it with a needle and slice it in a few places to open the wound so he could release the poison. You don’t understand pain until you feel this. By the way, no anesthesia. Half way through he decided to give me a shot, which, to my dismay, didn’t work! I felt like a squeeling pig, but god did it hurt! It took all my power, biting my arms and keeping my face in a pillow to not scream my lungs out. It was quite possibly the worse pain I have and ever will experience.

That went on for a good half an hour, and when he was finished I was light headed, cross eyed , and with a pounding head ache. I headed back to the school (with the drivers) to get dinner(as my host family was out that night for dinner), and then headed back to my host families to tell them what happened. They were kind enough to let me go to bed as they went to the pharmacy for me to get my list of antibiotics.

Didn’t go school the next day as I had a fever as a result….yaaaay.

In the end, all and all, this is what I found to be the most amazing: the check up, procedure, and all my medicines (4) ended up costing about a total of 60USD. Yeah. What the heck, America? I love you but COME ON. If I were in America this would have been thousands of dollars!

Something else that was fun was the fact the doctors did not speak English…got to use my Arabic in this situation (of course there were some miscommunications where we had to get one of the driver to translate for me) but regardless, I am glad I went there knowing the words for “pain” and “blood”

Snake Charmers, Monkeys, Mosques and Fortresses

Finally, after a long days worth of traveling we made it into the beautiful city of Marrakesh. Much too exhausted to really do much of anything, we found a nice hotel.

Which, reminds me. Allow me to go off on a bunny trail for a moment.

Hotels in Morocco vary a lot. There are western style hotels, and Moroccan style hotels. Moroccan style hotels usually do not have air conditioner. Your bathroom, if you have one, is usually a squat potty with a shower head somewhere that barely works. Your beds will be hard, itchy blankets, and some lovely crawling roommates. I’ve stayed in two Moroccan style hotels thus far, (one of which actually had a mini air conditioning unit, which cost an arm and a leg extra) and while It was a bit of a shock at first, I did enjoy those experiences. When I was at the waterfalls our hotel was as described with no air conditioner. I ended up sleeping on the dirty floor to keep myself cool. But even with that tid-bit, I still loved it. Waking up to the sound of sheep, horses and goats was just lovely..and the faint smell of running natural water. Staying in places like that has its perks, if you’re adventurous, don’t mind being a little dirty and can live in heat, I suggest doing it. It’s really worth it. But, it’s not for everyone. I really love the breakfasts you get in Moroccan hotels. It’s always olives, bread, jam, juice and sometimes cheese and a lot of tea. It’s a small, simple breakfast but there’s something so authentic about it.  These kinds of hotels range roughly from 5-15USD a night per person. Dirty cheap if you know what I mean.

out of the bunny trail, and back on topic. We found a nice western-style hotel to crash in. Ugh. Perfect air conditioner and a clean soft bed; I did enjoy that bit of luxury! As we were approaching this Western-style hotel I did complain a bit, as some part of me wanted something more authentic at the time. But my friend insisted, through his exhaustion, that we grab the first thing we see. I’m glad he ignored my suggestion, a good nights sleep was amazing.

Getting to bed late, we slept through the day (intentional, as it gets over 120F during the day in this part of Morocco) We ate at Mcdonalds – as it was Ramadan and everything else was closed – then slept more of the day away, and finally come night-fall when everything cooled down we headed off to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the busiest square in Africa. Immediately upon entrance into Jemma, within a matter of seconds, or minutes I have no idea, we are attacked by snake charmers and henna artists. All in a matter of seconds a woman forces my hand down and draws a lame flower on my hand with henna, a man takes my friends away and forces snakes of their heads, another man places a cobra on my feet and a water snake on my head, the henna lady runs off away from the snakes in fear (with another snake following behind her, hilarious) finally someone takes my friends phone and takes a photo with it, and then money demands. The henna lady returns and demands money for her “work” which she forced on my hand, and the snake charmers demand money for the photos. And it wasn’t reasonable, they demanded a stupid amount of durham. (moroccan $$)  We gave them small change, and ran away, with a snake charmer and a henna lady chasing close behind, until finally we lost them. A similar incident happened a few hours later but with monkeys. I had a monkey in a diaper on my shoulder….I was willing to pay the guy a decent amount for photos, which my friend took. The pictures were so horrible I deleted them. (For god knows what reason he chose the moment I had one eye open, one closed, and laughing. I LOOKED like the monkey.) Luckily I didn’t have to pay because he demanded a stupid amount of money as well, and a local over heard his barbaric request and punched him in the chest and told us to leave..which we did, without a problem. After that I was unable to take any photos of the area, because every time I stopped to take one, or so much as look at a cobra, I was charged. I never paid though, but running away became not only exhausting but annoying as well.

Snake Charmers

The following day we took a great trip to a medieval fortress. I explored holes, tunnels, old jail cells, dungeons and tombs. It was fantastic and completely other worldly to be in a dungeon.   Frankly, I didn’t want to leave..which I guess is sort of ironic.

after the dungeon we took a short train ride to Casablanca and got a good look at the third biggest mosque in the world; it was absolutely beautiful!

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Upon return home we ran into some train problems. We got on the wrong train and ended up god-knows where. There was a lady cooking, and we ended up stopping at a little place for a few drinks to get our heads straight. Finally we figured it out and ended up back in Rabat much later than we had hoped.

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I only have a few more weekends here in Morocco, and even with that in mind I don’t know how many more trips I’ll be taking, if any. I’m running low on money, so chances are I’ll do one more trip. I’m praying, praying praying to see Tangier, Morocco and explore the caves located on the ocean. I think, no matter what (even if I must go alone) i’m going to go see them. I’m in Africa, after-all, that’s something high on my list of must-sees and I am going to see them!

My element

“This…this is my element” I thought as I lead my group of friends on pure instinct. We had arrived shortly before to the amazing Cascades d’Ouzoud in Morocco, located within a small village about as far out in the mountains and you can get. One of my friends, who organized the trip, found our hotel which is located on the top of the village, so we take many flights of stairs outside to get to the bottom of the waterfall area. as you walk down stairs there are abundant amounts of outdoor traditional Moroccan and Berber cafes and shops. It’s amazing to see, and there is always live traditional music everywhere you go. Once you hit the bottom it’s a tourist hot spot. Picture taking areas, donkey rides, boat rides around the water falls and henna tattoo stands,bustling with energy and people.
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I instantly wanted to get away from the commotion. I just sensed, somewhere among the waterfalls and mountains there would be a secluded place for me to experience this beauty. I convinced my very reluctant group of friends to allow me to lead this one. skeptical, they agreed as I set off hoping from rock to rock, climbing hills, crossing bridges and small streams, and climbing rocks, barefoot and free, as my friends did the same themselves. Until finally, over a hill, I found an area that screamed for me to enter within. My friends were still reluctant to follow me for some reason. “I’m sure there’s a reason no one is out here Danni…we should head back the other way. we’ve gone far enough” Eventually I did manage to get them to at least allow me to run ahead and scout before we all made our way through, just in case. Over a small rocky hill within the mountain side was a clearing that then turned into a well shaded area of tunnels made by trees. I followed this tunnel of trees to find an old, large mat sitting in the shade. “Now..if there is a place to swim near by…this spot would be ideal” i thought to myself as I continued through the tunnel of trees. I again popped out to a clearing, and to my left, filled with amaze and astonishment was another waterfall. To the right, was a perfect swimming area. I hopped from rock to rock to make it to this swimming area, and climbed down a hill to find a lovely “beach”,stream and frigid water along the mountain side and water falls. Noticing a beautiful water snake scurry into the water, and the extreme lack of human life within the area, I rushed back to tell my friends that this was it. They, again,didn’t believe me. Reluctant as always, finally followed me as I lead them through the tunnel of trees, over the hills and rocks and as the clearing welcomed the sights I described, they finally said “we doubted you. but you did it”. They all said. I guess for once I managed something right. Myself and a few others swam for some time in the water falls (others convinced the water was too dangerous..too bad because the experience was so worth it) It was a fantastic, beautiful experience. Reacting on my instinct, exploring, climbing and running..I felt myself in a element of complete bliss..a somewhat..nostalgic bliss. I even forgot to take photos of the area. Nothing else mattered except getting to where my heart called for me to go. Some of my friends did get some pictures, which I will upload asap, they are amazing for taking these photos! I also hope to go back again tomorrow..fingers crossed.

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Learning

Last night I could barely tell my host sister I was exhausted and wanted to sleep (they invited to go out at like 11..but i was slowly dying lol) I spent forever just tying to get that across, even though I knew all the vocab for such…yet this morning I am able to have a fairly speedy conversation with my host mother, in Arabic, about how I have gained scholarships to live my dreams from schools and government, and spoke a little about my family life (with little to no charades)…Why does the Arabic side of my brain insist on turning off and on? lol. In any case. thanks to Qalam wa Lawh Center for Arabic Studies I have indeed learned a lot these past two weeks 🙂 I would have never been able to talk about scholarships, government or anything related before coming here. 6 weeks lefts!
keep checking back because I’ll be posting more logs and photos! My next topic is going to be donation and “beggars” on the Moroccan streets. I have a bit on my mind about that subject.

Fortunes.

Before Morocco I had a fortune from a cookie that read “you will be traveling and coming into fortune” . I placed it inside a small bag, which I use as a wallet, for safe keeping. I thought it would be cool..you know..

As I strolled with a friend through a major souq in Rabat, i found myself amazed by how vast it was, and how it differed so greatly from the U.S and Korea. Busy with people, busting with energy, the smell of street food (that I have not yet grown to trust) really made the entire experience.It reminded me, in ways, of the outdoor markets in Korea, but still it differed so greatly. I purchased a lovely flowing shirt with a tiger on it. Maybe cost roughly 10 bucks, and I’m completely in love with it.

Upon hailing a taxi, I soon realize with my friend and I that my wallet was missing. Beginning to panic, my friend gave me a hug and proceeded to give me a handful of money. He really was a big help with reducing my anxiety of loosing my wallet (which was a small bag) in Morocco. I was silly and by mistake this morning threw that that smaller bag in my back pack in a rush. Inside of it consisted of all my money and credit cards as well as identification. It was gone forever, and I headed back to my host families house to make an attempt at explaining, in arabic, that I think my money bag was stolen. Upon return to school the next morning, I am told there was a call that a man found my bag. Apparently it must have fallen out of my purse. He tracked me down because I had a piece of paper in the bag with the phone number to the school on it. When he arrived at the school, and gave me my bag back, everything was intact. In fact, he would not accecpt any kind of reward..he just said In Arabic to me over and over “Money is not a problem for me, please just watch what you do”. That’s when I found the fortune in my bag..”you will be traveling and coming into fortune”…yes…I was quite fortunate. Words cannot describe how incredibly grateful I feel to that honest man, and the luck by my side..

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The Souq of Rabat, Morocco

Moroccan Desert

another amazing view

“What am I doing with my life…” The above is a simple quote from my roommate I had when we stayed in a hotel somewhere in the mountains of Morocco. We awoke to sunshine, birds, and the greatest most beautiful surreal view I have ever encountered. Endless beautiful mountains and the sight of the Sahara desert in the far distance. That was our destination for today. The day before simply consisted of a long drive, visiting wild monkeys, and stopping in at a hotel for the night. The real adventure began in the morning. As we drove to the desert, we passed by many Nomad camps, and interesting, basically ancient civilized houses. It was interesting to see this because it made me see life in a different perspective; my life is mine, and it’s astounding to see how it can vary from person to person as you change destinations.

beautiful view

~let’s fast forward a bit: now comes the time I pick my camel! And up I go, and we’re off! A 2 and a half hour camel ride to our sight. Who ever said the desert is boring? it’s so fascinating and vast, I believe I’ve fallen in love with it. “The sand in my eyes feels like paradise. Climbing sand dunes, and reaching for the moon.” I kept singing over and over again to myself. A little tune I made up while I sat under the stars in the beautiful Sahara night-time sand! The camp sight was amazing; I felt so much like a nomad. It was a feeling of fantasy but in complete reality. Tents were available, but it was so warm everyone moved their pillows and bed-pads outside. As did I, along with my group of friends I have gathered here in Morocco. During dinner I encountered wild cats in the desert. So skinny, I almost thought they were unhealthy. But they’re desert cats; what do you expect? They all started out rather skittish but once I started offering them my chicken tagine(traditional Moroccan dish) they began to take a liking to me..a little too much. In the middle of the night those little stinkers made their way to my bed-pad and plopped themselves on top of myself and my friends. Everyone was rather annoyed with me; I always attract cats but it’s something they will just have to get used to 😉 One cat beckoned me to follow it at 3 in the morning. Unsure why, I followed him a great distance until I came over a small dune to see a different camp sight.

Kind of an awkward photo; but that tea sure was good! I turned back still unsure what this cat wanted, but it was an amazing walk that felt so much like a dream…my favorite part of returning to my bed-pad at night was having to pass by our line of camels. A feeling I can’t explain, but as I looked into the distance to see the endless Sahara, the beautiful sky, the unique camp sight, the desert-specific outfit I bought at a market here in morocco, with a scarf wrapped around my head and the line of camels I really began to think “What is my life? Who am I? What am I doing?” in the most amazing sense of course.
meow :) Sahara Kitty
our camels

Tomorrow is Monday; more classes which I always fancy, and my host family said they want me home after classes so we can go to the super-market together. Tomorrow will be a chill day, which is what I need considering I have not truly slept, aside from 2 hours in the sand, in well over 24 hours.

 [read more on my adventure in Morocco at https://elusiveambitions.wordpress.com/category/morocco/ ]