Camels smell like rotten eggs

How to even attempt to explain this week. It was an experience unlike anything I have ever had. I had no expectations going into it, and was astonished with every moment.

This was an ISA extra trip that we had to sign up and pay for separately. So because of that, we had to meet up in Sevilla (city in the south of Spain, couple hours north of the Strait of Gibraltar) and wait around till 4am to meet up with the entire group. So Brittany and I got to Sevilla around 11:30pm, took a bus into town, and walked around for an hour and a half till finding our friends. We ate a restaurant with cool 20s pictures, and I had the most amazing pizza. Then, we spent 2 hours on the river bank that runs through Sevilla. At one point, a fish splashed loudly and I snapped a sweet shot of everyone’s reaction. Totally not posed:

River Guadalquivir

River Guadalquivir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All day Wednesday, we travelled. Bus to Strait of Gibraltar, ferry across, and bus to Fes, Morocco. The first half of the day was pure torture. At 6:30am, only an half and a half after everyone fell asleep, the directors made everyone get off the bus and go to the bathroom. An hour later of sleep, we had to get off and onto the ferry. 2 hours later, off the ferry onto the bus. Everyone was basically a zombie. But finally, we arrived in Fes! Fes is known to be a very “holy” city, with a heavy Islamic influence, as with the rest of Morocco. We stayed in a beautiful hotel (Menzeh Zalagh):

Hotel Menzeh Zalagh

That night, we went out for cafe con leche and to buy water. The traffic there is insane, and some random guy helped us get across the street:

Streets of Fes

Thursday we spent the entire day in “Medina of Fes”, which is the massive intricate market in Fes. The area consists of small, winding streets. You occasionally have to lean against the wall to allow the donkeys pass, always watching your step to avoid uneven ground or donkey dung. Unfortunately, it was raining which caused the streets to be slightly flooded, and my TOMS were soaked with who knows what kind of infested water. As you walk through, you get to see the occasional camel head or smell an overwhelming stench of spoiled seafood. The Medina was anything but glamorous, yet I definitely was taking in the experience and enjoying it:

Medina of Fes

Medina of Fes

Medina of Fes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to leather, herbal, clothing, and medal shops. I ended up buying a shirt and scarf for myself. In the leather shop, the stench was so overwhelming that they gave us all mint leaves. It was quite a scene, watching these men soaking leather tubs outside:

Herbal shop in Medina of Fes

Herbal shop in Medina of Fes

Cloth shop in Medina of Fes

Rug shop in Medina of Fes

Leather factory in Medina of Fes

Medal shop in Medina of Fes

We ate a traditional Moroccan lunch in the Medina, and went to a pottery factory and a spot overlooking Fes on our way home:

Lunch in Medina of Fes

Fes, Morocco

Friday was a bus day as well, but much more pleasant since the scenery was gorgeous. Morocco’s landscape is extremely diverse, going from mountains covered with green scrubs with blanketed with fog to barren land and rocky dry mountains:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around 3pm, we stopped for lunch at the “Ziz Oasis”:

Ziz Oasis

By the time we got near the Sahara, it was dark. We rode in 4-wheelers out into the Sahara desert, which took nearly and hour and a half. The camp was full of tents, and a lot of “Berbers” (native Moroccans) were waiting for us with yummy tea and nuts:

Tea in the Sahara (served by Aladdin)

I woke up the next morning in a complete haze at 5:30am. Stumbling out of bed, I headed in the direction where everyone else seemed to be going. A random Berber grabbed my arm and told me to come in broken Spanish. I was hesitant at first, as I was still half-asleep walking through an open, barren land with a strange man. But I continued to follow him for 15 minutes dune after dune, exhausted from climbing and wishing he would stop at each peak. Finally we plopped down on the top of one of the dunes, just in time to see the sun rise. I cannot describe how impressive it was. We hung out for a while, talked about his family, and eventually headed back to camp:
 After breakfast, it was CAMEL TIME! “Magnificent” isn’t exactly the word I would use to describe them. They are very funny/awkward looking creatures. They were sitting down, so it was a shock whenever I got on and it stood up. I didn’t realize how massive it was. After an hour ride through the desert, we came to a native town. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures on the camel, since my camera was dead, but my friend did get a picture of me WITH a camel… which I will put on here soon.

We walked around the town for a while before heading back to camp in jeeps where we spent the rest of the day on a hike through the desert:

Sahara Desert

That night, Kathy, Grace and I laid on the sand, looking up at the brilliant sky full of stars. Unfortunately, we were so exhausted that we fell asleep after 10 minutes, but not without seeing at least 5 shooting stars.

It was a long journey back the 2 days. The first night, we stopped off in Meknes and hung out on a rooftop looking over the city. The second night, we finally got back to Sevilla where Ana, Kathy, Grace, Brittany, and I ate pizza/pasta at the same restaurant as before. It was probably one of the most satisfying meals I’ve had in a long time. After dinner, Grace, Brittany and I went to our hostel, Triana Backpackers, and passed out.

To see Morocco was a different, exciting experience is an understatement. I have been to 3rd world countries (Mexico+Costa Rica), but this was entirely different and cannot be compared. It was almost overwhelming, being hit with such a different culture, but definitely worth it. From the Medina of Fes, to the Sahara, to Meknes, I was constantly amazed with new sights and scenes.

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