I mentioned before that there are a lot of different languages flying around that country. And because of my "ethnic ambiguousness" it quickly became hilarious letting the salesmen in the souks (markets) guess where I might be from as I walked by: "Bonjour!...Hola!...Merhaba?....Buongiorno?...Hello!?...."
(At one point I also got "Konichiwa!" but that was just because I accidentally got mixed in with a crowd of Japanese tourists which completely confused the poor locals...)
I realize most of these salesmen just know one word in several languages, but a lot of people in Morocco do speak several languages, typically Arabic, French and a tribe dialect. But the Arabic there is a strange hybrid of spanish and Arabic. And for whatever reason, when Angie and I first arrived and couldn't find a taxi that understood where our hotel was (because there are THREE Ibis' in Casablanca and we definitely were taken to the wrong one right off the bat), we were asked if we could speak Arabic, French, Italian or Russian. So, perhaps some people in Morocco speak everything but English. (Sadly, Angie only speaks some German and I only speak some Spanish so we ended up asking several cab drivers, more loudly each time, "DO YOU KNOW WHERE THIS IS?" as if volume helps with translation. We finally jumped in a cab and hoped for the best). We eventually got to our hotel but the Fun With Ethnic Backgrounds didn't end there.
I was asked more than once if I was Arab or Berber (the native Moroccan people). Angie, who looks very Irish, was actually told by a native "You -- definitely American," which made her point out the humor in the fact that my features are actually Native American -- natively American -- yet American is the last thing people guess for me, go figure.
But back to the trip.
Day One: We meet part of our tour group and realize – we are likely on a Senior Citizens tour by accident. Perfect.
We also tour around Casablanca a bit which sounds romantic but really is just a giant, dirty city like most giant cities. Though there is a nice waterfront area with palm trees and nice houses akin to Beverly Hills. And the World’s third largest Mosque is there which was a pretty spectacular building:
Day Two: It is confirmed that the majority of people on our trip are, in fact, retirees and Angie and I take this in stride because it is just so typical for both of us to have our dreams of travelling around Morocco with hot men shattered in an instant.
We tour around the Capital city Rabat (walled city, King's palace, old ruins) and Meknes, which was the site of my first unsettling encounter with a snake charmer, as seen here:
I went from being intrigued, to annoyed when the guy really didn’t “charm” anything, especially not me since he insisted that we pay him more to watch and then nearly forced a snake around my neck. I’ve had a snake around my neck before, but I knew its loving owner. I did not trust this man or his snakes.
It was also on this day that Angie and I started getting a feel for Peter, a quirky little English man who typically sat in front of us on the bus. Precious Peter was very sweet and we eventually found him endearing but it took a bit. He would out of nowhere turn around to look at us and ask things like “Are you going to London for Jubilee?” or “Do you have insurance?” I couldn’t even arrange my features into the slightest resemblance of anything but complete surprised confusion every dang time and Angie and I spent many hours giggling later over whatever new question out of left field he came up with. It became almost a game.
Kind of like the game where we guessed the next Band T-shirt another Brit would be wearing. One of the few non-retiree people on the tour was a father/son duo from England. They were very quiet and the only reason I noticed them at all was because Son was sporting a Pink Floyd shirt through mosques and ancient city gates. I instantly liked him. (I also could not judge him when he began wearing the same band shirt on more than one day. As part of my "I'm not really planning for this trip at all" boycott, I didn't fully think through how chilly it might be and brought short sleeved-shirts and one blue hoodie that I essentially wore every day of the trip, making my photos appear like my entire 10 days occured on the same day and making my hoodie smell less than desirable by the time we finally headed back to America.)
There were several other characters on the tour and many other quotes overheard among them, like this gem while we were taking our shoes off to enter a Mosque -
Older lady one, to older lady two, without a trace of sarcasm:
"You are so smart to wear socks with sandals!"
Things you don't hear among the young professionals in D.C., well, ever.
On to Day 3 next post...