Like I said in my Prelude post, I don't think I would have ever imagined in a million years that I would have taken a trip to Africa this past month, but again, here we are.
While preparing for the trip, numerous people attempted giving me advice on how to stay safe in a Muslim country, how to dress, where not to go and what to be cautious of. They also gave their opinions on how it's not a safe idea to just be traveling alone with only two other girls, and how we should only walk around town in baggy clothing like boys so we don't attract attention. At the time, half of me took their advice with a grain of salt, but the other half of me became a little nervous to travel after hearing what they had to say. Interestingly enough, all of the people who gave me this negative detailed advice had not even been to Morocco before, themselves. Though on the flip side, the ones that had actually been to Morocco before, had nothing but amazing things to say about the country and had only positive advice for me. Despite all prior advice and presumptions, Morocco surprised me in so many different positive ways - I will definitely be going back soon.
The trip to Africa was actually an experience in itself for traveling solo. I made my way solo from LAX and the girls both came from Brazil, all meeting in Marrakech. First making a stop in Paris followed by a overnight layover in Milan, I finally touched down in Marrakech. First, on the flight from Milan into Marrakech I'm pretty sure I was facing death on that flight - there was such heavy turbulence on such a little plane that everyone was freaking out, holding onto the seat in front of them, but thankfully we made it out alive.
We had planned to stay in Marrakech for 5 days and the last 3-4 days in Taghazout. In Marrakech we stayed at the Movenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi. I highly recommend this hotel if you are looking to stay in Marrakech. It's such a beautiful 5-star resort in Marrakech's newest neighborhood with gorgeous rooms, pools, restaurant and spas. We called it a Moroccan bubble for obvious reasons. The service was a high class experience that we wouldn't have wanted any other way. We were formally greeted to the hotel with hot Moroccan mint tea and a tour of the whole resort and it's amenities. The stay comes with complimentary breakfast every morning (important), and let me tell you first that this is the best complimentary breakfast experience I've ever had in any hotel, ever. It had a huge dining room filled with every kind of breakfast food you could think of. There, I was first introduced to Msemen - thank you baby Jesus for these. I could only compare the food to a cross between pancakes and homemade Mexican tortillas. Easily devoured them every time they were put front of me.
I cannot begin to stress enough about how BEAUTIFUL the colors of this country are. Most buildings are painted in this gorgeous salmon color complimented with tile patterns you could only dream of . The interior designer in me was going crazy. I could not stop talking about the color palettes of this town. Subtly complex yet simple. As for walking around the town, it is important to definitely respect the culture and wear modest clothing, which wasn't difficult since it was pretty cold during the time we were there.
A typical day in Marrakech included getting lost in the Medina (Moroccan marketplace), exploring different Riads (Moroccan boutique hotels) and eating endless flavor packed food like couscous and curry. While wandering around the Media looking for gifts to buy, I certainly learned my way around bartering prices as low as I could get them and by the end of the trip, I was essentially pro. Morocco is easily the best shopping for boho chic home decor as well as spices and of course, fresh argan oil. Side note: Found the same rug I bought in Marrakech for about 30 dollars USD, on the Urban Outfitters website for 30x the price, so.. Super thankful for the USD being twice as strong as the MAD or Dirham! In addition, keep your ruthless bartering mode going especially when it comes to Taxis - pretty sure I spent the majority of my money on transportation.
As far as food in the Medina, we tried some amazing rooftop restaurants overlooking the whole city. If you're looking for a delicious healthy meal, I would have to recommend Earth Cafe and Nomad Restaurant. Both were equally amazing with their own vibe, and I still think about them both to this day.
It can get pretty chilly at night in Marrakech, so I definitely suggest bringing a jacket with you whenever you leave your hotel/ riad. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. Speaking of, we made sure we did a few shoots as well as ate lunch at a few riads in the Medina. The two riads we went to were Riad BE and Le Riad Yasmine. In Marrakech you'll notice that it is pretty easy to get lost in the Medina since there are so many different alley routes and such, it feels like a maze. We got lost so many times and had to ask for directions which we learned is definitely an easy way for local boys to take advantage of you by having you follow them and then asking for money in return. Regardless, most of the time you'll feel like you are going down a sketchy alley when in reality it's not sketch at all, and the riad you're looking for is hidden behind a hobbit-sized door at the end of the sketchy alley. Trust.
The morning of our fourth day in Marrakech, we loaded up our luggage and surfboards into a van took the 3-5 hour car ride from Marrakech to Taghazout, Morocco's surf city. We unfortunately only had about three days in Taghazout to explore the surf and take in the relaxing weather, but we made sure that we put every minute we had into good use. Sadly, we arrived into the city in between swells, but that didn't stop us from making the most out of what little swell there was. We were told it was firing the day before we arrived and the forecast had the swell picking up the day we left of course. Though other than that, we had the best time. We arrived under the wonderful hospitality of Sunshine Surf Morocco, where we were greeted with a delicious dinner, Moroccan tea (naturally), and an early bedtime, as we had an early surf the next morning. Reda from Sunshine Surf, was hands down the best surf tour guide in Morocco us girls could have asked for, and I we can't thank him enough for the unforgettable time we had that week in Taghazout. They call Taghazout the "land of rights" for a reason. Every corner we turned while driving up the coast, unveiled every kind of right you could ever imagine. Regular foot paradise - I'm goofy :/
I came to learn that the North African coastline features do a really good job at resembling the Californian coastline from the mountainside ridges to even the water temperature. I once found myself standing in a way that made my brain think that I was back in Malibu staring down the curved coastline of Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica! It was such a mind- fck! Other than that, Africa truly does have it's own beautiful curves and slopes - I was in awe. While driving along the empty road, we would sometimes come across special ocean views that we would often post up at for lunch or stop on the side of the road to hang out with herds of camels and their shepherds. On a smaller day, the best thing to do is go to the spa. I HIGHLY recommend getting the Hammam done while in Morocco, it was quite the experience and fun to do with your girl friends. The Hammam is a tradition Moroccan body scrub done in a steam bath/bathhouse. It is an ancient and integral part of Moroccan life, where water and cleanliness are essential elements of Islam culture. They basically exfoliate your body so much that all of your dead skin cells fall off, making your skin as fresh and soft as a baby's. To me, the traditional Morccoan Hammam procedure gave off the youthful feeling of a mother giving her child a bath. Despite the spa days and with smaller surf, we found some decent spots, and we eventually made it into the water.
One of the days that I can recall super vividly, I came down with a little bug in my stomach from something I ate the night before, that had me bummed and wanting to roll into a ball all morning. We drove about 3 hours total to this dreamy right point break named Imsouane that is known in Morocco as the longboarder's paradise. The colors there were aesthetically pleasing to the eye as well with so many pastels and little quotes painted onto the walls, it would brighten anyone's day. Simple details like this made all the difference. I still remember that as soon as I stepped into the water with my camera and my 3/2 that day, I felt a sense of relief, and that yucky stomach pain I had all morning magically disappeared as if it was never there.
That feeling of sudden relief and liberation could easily be the best way to describe Taghazout. Like when we first drove through the canyons and saw the city of Agadir overlooking Taghazout and the ocean; I felt there, I was fully there and every stress in my life back home, instantly became insignificant.
Not even my limited vocabulary can even explain how amazing this place is, but like anything else, you just need to experience it on your own. It is definitely out of the question, a must go if you like either food, interior design or surf. If you like all three, it's a no brainer, I can promise you. x