Further East to Marrakesh

On the Road Again!

After another great Moroccan breakfast, we started today with a sad goodbye, or as we preferred to see it…a “see you later”.  Hakima (her name means wise women, and believe us, she is all that) came to see us off.  We were shocked to also learn that she came bearing VERY thoughtful gifts for each us and one to take home to UNE’s President Dr. Danielle Ripich.  She had picked out and presented to each of us a personalized gift from her heart.  Hakima’s generosity left us all speechless.  We did however agree to say a prayer so that we might meet again someday.  That’s Hakima in the middle.  She gave us all traditional hijab’s…

Next we loaded up the van and headed East toward the Atlas Mountains to a medina called Marrakesh.  Along the way we spotted some goats standing on the branches of a roadside Argan tree (neatly placed by locals seeking tips).  We stopped to take some pictures and Jamal explained this spectacle.  Apparently, the traditional method of harvesting argan pits involved goats.  The Berbers (indigenous people of Morocco) would collect undigested argan pits from the waste of goats which climb the trees to eat their fruit.

Marrakesh has the largest traditional market or “souk” in the world called Jemaa el-FNA, which we can’t wait to explore tomorrow with our local guide…after we hit the ATM of course.  We haven’t been in Marrakesh long but we have observed that there is a very large international community here and most seem to be retired Europeans. Marrakesh must be Europe’s Florida.

During our driving tour of Marrakesh’s opulent new medina, including 3 golf courses, we observed an outdoor public prayer on the street.  Jamal said this was done five times a day according to the movement of the sun.  These are: near dawn, just after noon, in the afternoon, just after sunset and around nightfall. Jamal continued to explain that under some circumstances prayers can be shortened or combined and in case a prayer is skipped, like because you are working, it must be made up later.  He offered to show us later how he prays, what a warm and generous man he is.

We made it to the hotel around 5:30pm.  We were excited about the pool but not the temperature of the water, “burrrrr!”

The sun is out and the forecast looks great for the remainder of the week.  We have another exciting day planned tomorrow including more stimulation of the Moroccan economy and I’m sure we’re all in for another shocking cultural experience.  Bring it on!

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