Postcard From Morocco

Morocco will dispel many stereotypes about this country. Though 97% Muslim, burkas are in relatively short supply. Western clothes proliferate, especially in the large cities. The landscape is surprisingly green except for the Sahara desert in the south. From the cities teeming with shopkeepers and laborers to the fields and villages where men gather to watch a soccer match and sip mint tea, Moroccans are warm and friendly.

We accepted a generous invitation for a lunch of tagine, which is also the name of the clay pot with a cone cover in which they steam beef, chicken, and lamb covered in vegetables and couscous. Afterward, a short nap is called for to avoid the intense heat of midday.

Everywhere Moroccans wear either the traditional djellaba robe, and they compliment non-Moroccans on their choice to dress similarly. Many wear western garb because Europe, after all, is only a 10-minute ferry ride away.

We started in Casablanca, went to Rabat, Chefchouen (also known as the Blue City), Fez, Marrakech, and Zagora. It took us more than 16 hours to get to Morocco from LA, with a 4-hour layover in Montreal.

We were there for two weeks with my wife doing all the driving. We planned our trip for three months to go for two weeks. We discovered someone we know has a niece in Germany, a human rights activist working with one of the indigenous tribes of Morocco. We originally contacted her for tips and sights to see. She hooked us up with her Moroccan boyfriend who schedules camel rides for tourists and decided to meet us in Marrakech. I think my wife bought one of everything: jewelry, Moroccan robes for both of us, leather sandals and other leather goods, a silver teapot, a tagine cooking pot, rugs, scarves, spices, etc.

Moroccans don’t understand why more Americans don’t visit and are shocked to learn the lies we’re fed that all Muslims are terrorists, to make us fear our brothers and sisters and further divide us. “Please come to Morocco,” they say. “”You are always marhaba (welcome).”