Morocco is an enchanting country with diverse landscapes. It’s only a stones throw from Europe and offers a gateway to Africa.Travelers explore ancient cities, sweeping deserts, and some of the most hospitable people in the world.
Our favorite destination was Marrakech, a city that has captivated the imagination of writers for centuries. Marrakech is no ordinary camel town, for it has modern influences as well. Recently, the city hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
One may ask why I decided to go to Morocco. After my Bat Mitzvah I was promised a trip abroad. Instead of taking the typical flight to Israel, like most Jewish teenagers, I decided to go to a Muslim country to witness the fastest growing religion first hand.
We stayed at the Pullman Hotel outside the city, a luxurious oasis surrounded by palm and olive trees. The hotel has beautiful stone work, indicative of Berber architecture. Geometric patterns are embedded in the stone arches, gates and even the carpets. These intricate patterns remind us that North Africa was once the epicenter of mathematical learning.
After checking in, we went straight to the Medina. I was advised to cover my head with a kerchief, something I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing in Long Island. Our guide helped us navigate the alleyways and avoid the tenacious merchants hawking their wares. The sent of coriander and turmeric filled the air as we loped through the endless maze. Lamps and hookah pipes filled the shops, each one telling its own Arabian story.
We went back to the hotel for dinner where we tasted Tajine, a special Moroccan dish in a hotpot that mixes vegetables, dates, figs and meat. Considering my own Western teenage predilection for plain pasta and butter, I found the Tajine to be too spicy and the goat meat rather chewy. However, I could handle the dessert table and the mint tea.
The Hotel offers various excursions including camel rides and a camping trip in the Sahara desert. Other sights that can not be missed are the Bahia palace, Atlas Mountains and the Saadian tombs. There is also a trip to a nearby town where goats climb high in Argan trees. Argan oil is a popular ingredient in cosmetics.
The Arabian Nights dinner is filled with Moroccan themes. It is easy to be mesmerized by the Berber guards on horseback and Dakka, which are traditional belly dancers and singing women.
A trip to Morocco offers a a taste of Islamic culture at its finest. Considering the growing scourge of Islamophobia in the West, a visit to Marrakech may build our understanding of one of the world’s most influential religions.