Morocco. Maroc.

الله الوطن الملك God. Motherland. The King.

The three words which describe so well this wonderful country and its people, for whom these three words mean a lot. But first things first.

Having understood the mentality of local people, I wanted to visit this country to answer one of my questions — How do they look like there, in their own country? Are they the same or completely different? Even Moroccans themselves they say that ‘’we, Moroccans, don’t behave this way there, we are not like them, they are not real Moroccans.’’ You need to come to Morocco once to understand what hospitality actually means, but on the other hand you need to be very careful. Natives are famous for being very smart and tricky, they have plenty of tricks that they can play on you twenty times a day, fifteen times of which are normally successful. Well, successful for them, of course, and not for you. As a result, they get what they wanted from you from the very beginning, although they didn’t say anything about that before.

I’ve never been afraid of saying my own opinion, but this time I should say I’m trying to be careful, because too many things tie me to Morocco — good friends, other nice people whom I know, the language that I’m still willing to learn, les beaux souvenirs(nice memories) about extremely delicious food, Moroccan positive and emotions, French-Arabic, i.e. Maghreb, music on my playlist and so on and so forth. I mean all my friends know my real thoughts and feelings about Morocco, but I should admit that this country wouldn’t be so interesting for me without its disadvantages. Who wants an ideal guy or an ideal girl? Really? Well, that’s not for me. Too boring! So what I want to say is that my general impression and my thoughts about this country are positive, so there is no point in being angry with me.

I have already mentioned about the language that I still want to learn. Well, as a linguist-traveler I should say that ‘’ If I speak only English I would be understood everywhere ‘’ doesn’t really work. Well, it works at least in Europe, and only in some part of it. But it is only for those who like not only going from country to country and being happy with their new stamp in the passport, but also learning new cultures, people who have different lifestyle and all things like these from within. Of course, many other people are satisfied with only lying on the beach, enjoying the sun and the atmosphere around the hotel area — nice and friendly staff, beautiful and tanned bodies of tourists..And who cares what it is written there on that hill? What does it mean? What for? Normally it happens like this. First, when you decide to go somewhere far you think English will save us again like God saves the British Queen, then when you choose Morocco you think that French would be enough. But then you realize that even Arabic wouldn’t be enough if you want to understand what Moroccans feel , the way how they think and talk. But for God’s sake, what are they arguing about? Two minutes ago they were very friendly and were smiling to you. Is it a new Moroccan trick? Again? No, you need to see Moroccan people talking, watch their dialogue and you start realizing that it is a country of amazing feelings and emotions. You need to feel it and Morocco will be nice to you!

My trip to Morocco was spontaneous, it often happens that the most interesting things come spontaneously, especially if we speak about traveling. I was going from Spain, from Almeria. Four hours by ferry to the north of Morocco, Nador, then a bus to Casablanca. That plan seemed to be perfect and quite easily done, the only thing that frightened me a bit was the first part of it, I don’t feel so confident and secure when I’m too far away from the land and only water surrounds me. But the problems we were going to face were in the second part of the plan. My only traveling companion was a Slavic girl, so we attracted too much attention, well she did, you know… Four hours on a ferry, which seemed to be a small boat dancing on the waves, passport control ( also on the ferry), well-organized though, of course we had to wait for a while but it has nothing to do with long lines in our offices, and finally we are in Africa…

‘’Small children!

For nothing of the world

Don’t go to Africa,

To walk Africa!’’

Before leaving Almeria, all the locals, when they heard about our brave plan murmured ‘’locos’’ ( ‘’crazy’’). I remembered at once the words from Russian fairy-tales ‘’Don’t go to Africa, kids’’, those words stuck in my mind like a song which plays again and again until you hear another one, but when we looked at another side of the coast, we understood — that mysterious and wonderful planet was too close, just four hours and there it was — Mama Africa. That was such a temptation, moreover I couldn’t remember which words followed the first phrase of the tale, I was sure there was something about savannas and wild animals, but we were not about to go there. I wish it would have said about crazy drivers and pedestrians…

When we arrived in Nador, there was a sigh of relief, we didn’t have any problems crossing the border, the weather was perfect, the sun was shining, we could hear the noise of the ocean, it seemed to be a real paradise…But when we stepped out from the ferry, I guess we were in the outskirts, but anyway, what we saw couldn’t drive us crazy, and we wanted to go to Casablanca immediately, without waiting for the moment when we could enjoy swimming in the ocean, looking at beautiful girls( Nador is famous for its beautiful ladies)..no, no, no, we are going to Casablanca right now, we can find everything there. When we came to the station, we were told that it wasn’t possible to go by bus because of the repair works that they were having at that moment. If I’m not mistaken there was a chance to go by train, but not that day for sure…Should we stay here? Should we have a little walk around the city center? No, no, no, we should go to Casablanca and that’s it. The place where we were looked like a huge bazaar, it was like a bazaar city, it was too hot, stuffy because of different smells in the air, a lot of beggars with little children were around us, they were trying to push a lot of unnecessary stuff to get a desirable dirham, or with more luck several dirhams. In such situations one tries to find some connection with the civilization, and as we were neither in a desert, nor in a savanna, it wasn’t a problem to find an internet cafe. In a half an hour I realized that nobody whom I might have known was in Nador at that moment, so it meant that we had to find some way to reach Casablanca on our own.

We were ready to pay for a taxi, because we didn’t have much time, only one weekend, so we couldn’t waste any minutes more, we had to go immediately. Thank God that Morocco despite being a beautiful country is also cheap for European tourists; food, transport, houses, clothes — all these things are much cheaper than they are in Moscow or London. After twenty more minutes of negotiations with a taxi driver in the mixture of French, Arabic, Spanish, English and body languages we finally managed to agree about the price and everything, but we could go by that car only till Fes, then we would have to change a taxi, spend another twenty minutes on negotiations with another driver and at night we would be in Casablanca! Oh, what a relief it would be!

We had already agreed about everything, but the driver wasn’t going to set off, it seemed to be a joke, one more trick, but he was very calm and relaxed and it looked like he was going nowhere that day. Having talked to him, I understood that he was waiting for two more passengers to fill the car. When I asked him ‘’why two??’’, he smiled to me and pointing to the back seat answered:’’ Look, that seat is for 3 people , and you are two’’. The car looked very badly, it was too stuffy inside, but there was no point in wasting more time on arguing, although going by that car for 5–6 hours with 40 degrees outside and more passengers inside didn’t seem to be the best thing which we could have in our journey. OK then, we offered him to pay for one seat, not the driver’s seat of course, but the back seat, maybe we should have paid for the driver’s seat too though…Twenty more minutes passed and a man who was helping the driver to find passengers came with an old woman. It was a very old Moroccan woman, but very nice and friendly, she smiled to us and said : “Assalamu Aaleikum’’.

The woman was dressed in a blue long dress with some traditional patterns on it, her face was burnt by the sun. As she was very old, she had completely forgotten French ( the language which is normally used at school, at university, at work). Nevertheless we could interchange some phrases and we told her that we were Russian students who came to Morocco for a couple of days to visit our friends in Casablanca. I could only understand that she was going to Fes where she lived and she would be happy to invite us to her house and help us with Moroccan delicious cookery. Then we were going in silence, only from time to time the woman was saying ‘’Hay, Allah, skhoun bzzaaf’’ ( ‘’ OMG, how hot’’, from darija, local dialect of Arabic). Then everybody fell asleep, tired of the heat and the long trip, everybody, except me, I couldn’t sleep watching our crazy driver. In a couple of hours we stopped at the gas station, the woman turned back smiling to us and said in French what she had suddenly remembered, that sweet word — “Manger!’’. We went into a small cafe which was close to the gas station, there wasn’t much food in there, but what we really wanted at that moment was to drink water and relax. Almost the whole night inside the taxi with that crazy driver on a road which was hardly visible was ahead of us.

We were going very fast on a night road with light breeze, the sound of horns was heard from time to time, I opened my eyes wide a few times saying the woman’s words, but without ‘’Skhoun bzzaf’’, because it was not hot anymore. It’s a mistake to think that it is always hot in Africa, in the evening it was quite cool because of the wind and the sudden change of the temperature, we could feel that. By that time the old woman had already left us, we got off in Fes, in her native town, so she stayed there, but before saying goodbye she didn’t forget to invite us again. We refused politely saying that our friends were waiting for us in Casablanca, so we said goodbye to each other, spent about 15 minutes on negotiations with another driver and set off to Casablanca, directly, without stops, without beggars, without talking, directly to Casablanca. The happiness was somewhere close.

In the evening it was much better, it was not hot anymore, it was cool, but the road was hardly visible at night and the new driver was also crazy, well, maybe all the drivers there have a special test on craziness to get the license. Who knows? Soon we were in the biggest city of the country, our friends met us when we were close to the city and after a while we could finally enjoy the comfort and the hospitality of the natives. As we came at night, we didn’t go anywhere, we were pretty tired at that moment. Besides, we needed to save our energy for the next day. Actually we had just one full day in Morocco, that’s why I can’t write as much as travel guides say, but I’m happy that I’ve had such a good chance, because a trip like this, although it is just for a weekend, gives you much more that one or even two weeks at the hotel when you go by an organized trip. During one day we managed to visit one of the closest to Casablanca towns, enjoy the beach, the sun and the ocean, the taste of the local food. Of course, we could find some time to walk around the city too — we could appreciate the magnificent King Palace belonging to King Muhammad , the gorgeous Mosque of Hasan II, standing on the ocean and being one of the tallest mosques in the world. After such days you understand the meaning of those three big words which one can see on the hill of Agadir(a resort city which will be my next destination when I come to this country again) — God, Motherland, King.

What about the first word — God- well, Morocco is considered to be a lay country, but it depends on what we compare it with. For example, if we compare it with Saudi Arabia, UAE or Iran Morocco with no doubt is a lay country, but if we compare it even with Turkey( I don’t mention even the western countries), then we should admit that Morocco is a religious country with some cities which have their own, modern lifestyle. Nevertheless, Moroccans like foreigners of all races and religions, local police care about tourists even more than about their own people, and local people in their turn will always treat you well in their country if you do respect them and their family.

What about the King( when I say about Moroccan King, I want to write this powerful word ‘’King’’ with a capital letter, taking into consideration the love and affection which Moroccans show toward the main person of their lovely country), here the word King really takes it place right after God. From early days children are taught to respect and love the protector of their motherland and appreciate him no matter what happens, because he works for the sake of Moroccan families. A lot of people live in poor conditions (of course I’m not speaking about big cities like Casablanca, although you can find many poor people there too), but even in their huts you can find the portrait of the head of the country.

What about the third, the last but not the least, word in this phrase? Well, you don’t need to go there, you can talk to Moroccans for a couple of minutes to understand how they sincerely and truly love their motherland. Even those, who move to France, Belgium or The Netherlands on different reasons, never forget about their Bladi(from Moroccan ‘’ country ‘’).

What about other general impressions about Morocco, which stuck into my memory I can mark goats in the trees (yeah, really in the trees, the thing is that even local goats are very tricky and they found their own way to get food, as there is not much grass on the ground, that’s why they climb onto the trees, you can imagine how funny it looks!). Besides, the chaos on the road also stuck in my mind, it looks like the rules were invented by a strange and inexplicable agreement between drivers and pedestrians. Actually it is a special ability to cross roads there; a pedestrian steps onto the highway and starts slaloming between cars and bikes, the drivers try to cheer him up with their horns every twenty seconds.

Apart from all those facts which are said in travel guides, in Morocco you can find a lot of unique, unusual and inexplicable things which you will hardly ever forget. If you come to Morocco for the first time on your own, without tour guides, you can have different impressions — you are amazed with the beauty of local nature and on the other hand you are embarrassed with the chaos in the street. So, as a result, you either fall in love with this country or start hating it, but you won’t be indifferent anyway., and you will wait for the moment when you can come there again. That’s why I’ll definitely visit it sooner or later!

الله الوطن الملك God. Motherland. The King.

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