Monday, February 1, 2010

Marrakech, Morroco

According MC, if you are what you eat, MC and I are: "Tagine, Couscous, Brochette, and Mint Tea."

Niiko, MC, Johannah and I had a wonderful 5 day vacation in Marrakesh. What made it even better were the amazing accommodations at Le Meridien. Thank you Starwood points!

On Thursday, MC and I attended a private Moroccan cooking class at a local riad (hotel). Aida, a local Moroccan, was our head chef but since she did not speak english, we had a translator called Mohammed. Mohammed asked us "how did you find out about this class?" I replied "On" Mohammed then mentioned that he gave a ton of advice on tripadvisor to people traveling to Morocco and that his screenname was "TrueBeliever." When I heard this, I gave a little I just met a movie star. When I was planning this trip, I read tons of reviews on tripadvisor and "TrueBeliever" was THE Morocco expert. MC had to shush me so I didn't disturb the other guests at the hotel.

Other highlights of the trip include: bargaining for taxis. You must determine a price before you step into the taxi, otherwise you will be taken for a ride (figuratively). My french improved dramatically when I was negotiating. To get home one day, MC and I approached a taxi, determined to only pay 20 Dirhams, which was the going rate for a taxi to the Meridien hotel from that location. The taxi driver asked for 30 Dirhams, so in French, I proceed speak rapid-fire: "It's 20 dirhams I know this I left yesterday from the restaurant over there and it was 20 No It's 20 No, I'm only paying 20." The taxi driver agrees to take us to the hotel for 20 Dirhams.

MC and I decided to buy some 30 Dirham ($4) sunglasses since we forgot to bring any. MC tries to negotiate the price down...unsuccessfully. To my surprise, the shopkeeper starts to braid my hair, into what he calls a "Berber style." For those of you that know me, I have a personal aversion to people touching my hair. I was also disturbed that he was touching me, especially in a Muslim country where men are more respectful of women. Being the amazing negotiator that she was, MC asked the shopkeeper for a discount, for the rights to braid my hair. My roommate just pawned me off to get $1 off sunglasses.....I'm worth much more than that.

Throughout my time in Marrakesh, I was constantly referred to as "Japan" or "China." At first, I gave into this and introduced myself as "I am Japan" whenever people asked. At some point though, I decided that I needed to educate people about Taiwan. So I started to say "I am Taiwan, not China. We make cell phones." When a shopkeeper asked me if I was Taiwanese (without prompting), I was so excited I purchased overpriced items from him.

Other highlights of my trip include: a 2-day overnight desert trip, a camel ride, a guided tour of the souk markets, steam baths, a night out at a local club, and lots of meals on the roof terraces. Overall, Marrakesh gets two thumbs up. Wait, according to MC, in Arabic countries, giving someone a thumbs up means "GO **&^%*&" (translation: something highly offensive).

Overall, Marrakesh get 2 gold stars.

Photo: Camel Riding
Photo: Gorgeous plate store at the Souk markets

Photo: Morrocan men wear this traditional Jalaba which comes in all colors and sizes. Notice the pointy hood - it was a bit creepy when I first saw it.
By the way, I chased this man halfway around the Souks trying to secretly take a picture of him.


  1. i can attest, the rights to touch your hair are worth much more than a $1 discount!

  2. i love tripadvisor too! your pictures are so colorful and vivid :) more pls!

  3. Hi Teena
    just came across your blog and thought I would say hello.I do remember your taking some photos of use. Could you send them over
    I'm still working at la maison arabe but seriously thinking of starting my own business
    should you come back to Marakech I'd be happy to invite you to a couscous