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Sep 14, 2018 10:45am (Ohio)

Traveling to Morocco has been a wonderful experience in a new country and a new continent. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the people and physically witnessing the sights, sounds, and - sometimes - the smells of the places.

As most people in the world don't have the luxury to vacation like this and see the world for all that is, I consider myself extremely lucky. And I'm thankful to live in a place that affords me these opportunities.

I learned a lot by traveling thousands of miles to another continent, but the most important thing I have learned is that my family is the most important thing to me. I would give up all the trips and all the experiences for my wife and daughter. I'm glad to be home.

Finish in Style

Sep 14, 2018 10:30am (Ohio)

My last night in Morocco, I decided to dine on one of my favorite meals. So I found this little hole-in-the-wall place (describes most restaurants here) that advertised something like Asian fusion. And it was perfect. Got this little bento box for around 130 dirham ($13).

Big Construction

Sep 14, 2018 10:27am (Ohio)

Marrakesh is growing fast. I passed this new Four Seasons going up on the outskirts of town. This city is quickly losing it's old-world feel as it races to become a modern tourist haven.

Awesome Mobile Companies

Sep 14, 2018 10:21am (Ohio)

AT&T wanted $60 to use my phone in Morocco, and that only included 2GB of data. I'd still get charged per-minute usage for calls and texts. So instead, as soon as I arrived at the Casablanca airport, I bought a local sim card from Morocco's third-largest cell phone company: Inwi (notice the billboard in the pic). For $20, I got 6GB of data and six hours of international calling. And their 4G coverage was awesome, at least in the cities and the highway between Casablanca and Marrakesh.

Just to compare, I'm back on AT&T and already missed a call this morning because it failed to connect.

More Vehicles

Sep 14, 2018 10:17am (Ohio)

I love to see the different vehicles they have, like this simple truck. And check out what the guy is wearing on that scooter: not sure if that heavy vinyl smock is to keep the wind off of him, or the street grime.

Nice Ride

Sep 14, 2018 10:15am (Ohio)

For all the old, tired, and beat-up scooters and mopeds zipping around the cities, every once in awhile you run into a cool bike like this. I even saw a couple of Harley Davidsons.

Remote Work

Sep 14, 2018 10:13am (Ohio)

This is how to properly work remotely. It should be like this every day.


Sep 14, 2018 10:11am (Ohio)

Shrimp and calamari. Notice the heads still on the shrimp? Not sure how to eat this.

Calamari is pretty common here, and cheap.


Sep 14, 2018 10:10am (Ohio)

Back in the USA. Now that I'm home, I will upload some more pictures and try to give some context to some of them.

The flight back was mostly uneventful, except for the frustrating bureaucracy in Morocco and security in Paris (courtesy of US requirements). The Moroccan government likes to keep a tight grip on people, and in the airport it was in the form of six checkpoints: two full security screenings, immigration, customs, and two arbitrary places where a guard checked passports - one to validate your visa exit stamp and the other as a security pre-screen. Marrakech airport recommends arriving three hours before departure and I completely agree!

In Paris, I was lucky enough to get pulled from the line for a bomb-residue screening (I assume that's what they were doing). My backpack, it's contents, my body, and clothes were all swabbed and scanned. So fun.


Sep 12, 2018 03:01pm (Morocco)

I've only seen four American vehicles here: three Jeep Wranglers and THIS bad boy Hummer. In all reality, it's probably more practical here than in the states considering some of the roads I've seen. I wonder what it cost to import that!

But for all I know, it could be the secret police. I've heard they're everywhere, and this was the second time I'd seen this vehicle on my hike today. Hmm.

Are We There Yet?

Sep 12, 2018 02:49pm (Morocco)

So it's my last day in Morocco and I wanted to see something "important". I looked at my online map and decided on the Menara gardens. It didn't look too far away and I had a whole day to kill.

History Lesson: The Menara gardens are botanical gardens located to the west of Marrakech, near the Atlas Mountains. They were established in the 12th century (c. 1130) by the Almohad Caliphate ruler Abd al-Mu'min.

And off I went. The weather was milder than usual: low 80's, overcast, with a slight chance of rain in the evening. As my trek wore on I realized that the map was deceiving and the the Moroccan sun will just "turn on" at any given moment. And following a digital map only guarantees the shortest path, not the "best" as I found myself in an undeveloped, new section of the city with a dirt path for a sidewalk and NO services you'd expect from civilization - just some new construction for a huge Four Seasons hotel/resort. I had effectively left the city. (I'll post a pic to the gallery after this one)

The gardens were...well, a bunch of trees and a pond. Now I can say I've been there - I've stood where other people stood almost a thousand years ago. But, yeah, trees.

Turns out, the full round-trip walk ended up being exactly five miles - too far for a desk-jockey like me. That's gonna hurt in the morning. And the temperature climbed to around 87 which, when the Moroccan sun appears, is wwaayy to hot to walk in.

The only good thing to come of that hike was that I found BEER!! (see previous post)


Sep 12, 2018 12:38pm (Morocco)

Calamari,bread, olives, and beer. Now it's a vacation!

For those who don't know, Islam forbids alcohol, so it is difficult to find beer in this country. And when you do, it has to be drank indoors - no sidewalk bistros.

Every Country I Visit...

Sep 11, 2018 04:46pm (Morocco)

Now that I am "safely" out of Marrakesh's old city, I will let you in on a little bit of history. The three-story Argana Cafe in the background of this picture was blown up in 2011 by a suicide bomber. It has since been rebuilt - obviously. I believe that was the last terrorist bombing in this country. Lots of security everywhere now - protecting their tourist economy.

How to Spend 200 Dirham at Once

Sep 11, 2018 04:32pm (Morocco)

Sorry, this is from two nights ago. But oh so yummy. I'll have one of everything, si vous plais.

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Sep 11, 2018 03:38pm (Morocco)

Maybe this is why I don't care for plans. Things happen, plans change, and when they do, it can be stressful because I feel like I couldn't accomplish what I set out to do. But, it is what it is and we move on.

So my plans have changed. I am no longer going to the mountains - to the village of Imlil. I checked on transportation yesterday and it was sketchy at best. I would have to find a grand taxi heading to Imlil - early enough to get a seat, then wait for it to fill with another five people, then ride for 90 minutes to the destination.

Getting back was the big unknown. The village doesn't have many roads, so the taxis stop at the entrance to town and you have to walk to your riad/hotel. To leave, you have to walk back to the taxi stand and wait for another grand taxi to fill up before it will return to Marrakesh. Maybe I'm getting old, maybe I'm losing some of my adventurousness, but that didn't sound like fun to me.

So, I've checked out of the Hotel Cecil (riad) and into Les Troix Palmiers - a more western-style hotel in the city center. It's still not quite a Hilton, but it's close enough.

I ate lunch at McDonalds where the chicken is advertised as "halal", which means it is approved for Muslims to eat. And, yes, they have hamburgers: I had a royal cheeseburger, fries, and Sprite. It was typical McDonals fare, but everything did have a slightly different taste than I'm used to. On a side note: while there is disagreement on some halal ideals, the animal must be slaughtered while mentioning the name of Allah and - according to some - the animal must be slaughtered specifically by a Muslim. Not sure how McDonalds manages this, but it claims to.

The district is primarily upscale, but I've seen high-end retailers, beggers, small repair shops, and had a latte at Starbucks - all on the same street.

My tired legs are about to fall off, so I am trying to walk less and relax more. I keep forgetting that I'm not the thirty year old energetic man that hiked all over Thailand without breaking a sweat. On the way back to my hotel I passed an ambulance loading up an older European man that wasn't looking so good. I have a long time before that happens, but I'm in no hurry to push my body there.

Latest News

Sep 10, 2018 10:18pm (Morocco)

Long, hot day. I'm going to bed. Hope to post more tomorrow when I get some downtime.


Sep 10, 2018 09:15pm (Morocco)


Lost & Found

Sep 10, 2018 02:02pm (Morocco)

I might be lost. Nope - just around the next bend was a slightly wider alley with many vendors. And then back into the square at Jemma el-Fna.


Sep 09, 2018 08:34pm (Morocco)

The center of the square that had sporadic vendors this afternoon,

became the world's largest concentration of pop-up restaurants as soon as

the sun went down.

I can't even begin to count them. Each one only has a couple tables but

they all are full-functioning kitchens serving all the traditional Moroccan


Marrakesh Madness

Sep 09, 2018 04:57pm (Morocco)

Arrived in the beautiful adobe-red city of Marrakesh. The

square at Jemma el Fna is awash in people from every corner of the world.

There are literally 100+ vendors in the square and countless more in all

the narrow alleyways extending into the old Medina.

No Train

Sep 08, 2018 04:29pm (Morocco)

Just to clarify, I originally wanted to take a train to Marrakesh, but I found that the bus station is a lot closer to my hotel and has a much more comfortable first-class for my American sensibilities (and age). And besides, I don't know if there's enough Dramamine in the world to keep my stomach from punishing me on a train. So, I will be lounging on bus across the Moroccan countryside.

Walking Tour

Sep 08, 2018 04:20pm (Morocco)

These feet of mine are worn from walking kilometers (everything is metric) of Casablanca's roads.

It began - unintentionally - with a scene of the "real" Morocco. Always trying to be efficient, I navigated a straight line to the Hassan II mosque from my hotel. This line just happen to go through the center of the Old Medina which is not as touristy as I thought it would be.

I found myself on a road lined with shops of everything from pallet-making, to furniture-making, to moped repair. And these shops were literally only large enough to hold a single moped. I saw workers in overalls and flip flops - everyone going about their workday (on a Saturday). This was a true third-world manufacturing neighborhood.

But despite my feeling that, as a tourist, I probably shouldn't be there, no one ever made me feel out of place. On the contrary, I felt barely noticed.

I did finally make it to the mosque which is stunning in the height of it's minaret. It looks out over the Atlantic ocean - a mere 4100 miles from home.

Not wanting to walk all the way back, I negotiated a cab ride with Jawed, and he took me to the Place de Nations - a bustling commercial district where I had a tasty lunch and bought a bus ticket to Marrakesh for tomorrow. The travel time that I wanted was a "premium" bus (aka First Class), and cost a whopping 130 dirham ($13.77).

Much walking later, and I find myself back at my hotel - sitting at an outside table with a wonderful glass of tea and cementing these memories in the foreverness of the internet.

Latest News

Sep 07, 2018 09:40pm (Morocco)

For anyone who hasn't heard the Islamic call to prayers, it's definitely something to experience. I heard it my first time in Turkey (other than in movies, a la Black Hawk Down) and it was mesmerizing, but to hear it blasted over loudspeaker from that tall minaret at the mosque just gives me goosebumps.

I don't fully understand the meaning behind the multiple calls, but it's happened three times this evening.

Latest News

Sep 07, 2018 07:24pm (Morocco)

The world's tallest mosque at dusk and the only one in Morocco that is open to non-muslims.

Morocco Timezone

Sep 07, 2018 07:04pm (Morocco)

Any post prior to this one is behind by one hour. Morocco is five hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) - not four. My bad.

So I decided to fix the error as I'm relaxing on the roof terrace of my hotel while the sun sets. It's getting surprisingly cool up here.


Sep 07, 2018 05:19pm (Morocco)

I finally reached Hotel Central (Casablanca) after a harrowing taxi ride from the airport. (edited)

Now I'm enjoying a coffee with some locals. One man got offended when a beggar hassled me, so he gave him a good scolding.


Sep 07, 2018 05:45am (Paris)

Travel tip: leave yourself a lot of times to switch planes. This

airport is big and designed like a maze. They just remodeled and apparently

think it was an improvement.


Sep 06, 2018 02:13pm (Ohio)

Minimalist travel is getting more difficult as I get older. All

the things I "think" I need, just don't fit into a backpack anymore.

I've been removing lowest priority items all morning. I think I'm

finally able to zip it up.

Departure Flight

Aug 23, 2018 08:08pm (Ohio)

Total travel time will be 12h 45m from Detroit to Paris to Casablanca, with a 1h 50m layover in Paris. I sure hope I can sleep on the plane.

The Plan

May 31, 2018 11:33am (Ohio)

The plan is to fly into Casablanca, then travel by train to Marrakesh, and by car to Imlil. I will catch my flight home in Marrakesh. All of the details in between will be figured out on the fly.

I've already purchased the plane tickets - now I just need to gather some equipment.

More info to come...