Morocco Reflections

Morocco is a long way detached from the UK in so many ways, from culture to religion and modern day custom. As with visits to any country, particularly if travelling independently, it is so important to research and understand these, and take care to avoid offence.

It may not be so in the popular resorts, but away from there, in places like Guelmim, the wearing of shorts, or the display of shoulders, would cause enormous offence. In most places we’ve been, if you adjust accordingly, treat people with respect and friendship, you will almost always be rewarded.

Dress codes is just one such, there are others. Prayer time, religious festivals, certain days of the week, may all require a different approach, as may the relationship between two factions within a country. Berbers are particularly kind and friendly, and they don’t miss a chance to tell you this! They will also say they are the only original Moroccans (disputed), and that traditional Berbers had no religious tie and were free to follow any religion of their individual choosing, until the Bedouin Arabs arrived and brought Islam which is now the universal faith across Morocco.

The almost total lack of alcohol is not everyone’s idea of a holiday, but is of course easily manageable. Cuisine wise, freshness dominates, especially in the mountains where so little is shipped in from outside. Moroccan food is terrifically fresh and free of artificial influence and chemical input, it is the definition of the word organic, although the diet may for some lack variety, the choice usually being which tagine or what with couscous.

Our biggest challenge on this trip was the sweep in daily temperature- upper 20s in the day to just above zero by nightfall. Restaurants and cafes are rarely heated and what locals are out sit huddled in jellabas over their day clothes, sipping mint tea or water. In fact, “restaurants ” as we know them are a rarity, and with no bars either, we often found ourselves in our multi-blanketed bed around 9.30.

It is though a spectacular country, full of remarkable and dramatic scenery, huge imposing mountains, crumbling prairie, unique and chaotic cities, beautiful oases and an Atlantic coastline. Its joy lies in its hidden treasures such as the timeless existence within its mountain villages, and the proud people who are so eager to teach you its history, often warts and all. Kindness and friendship oozes from the Berbers in particular, in a land where terrain and climate do not make life easy.

Hussein and your friends, Omar, Nasser, and all the others we have met, you leave us with the very best of impressions of your country and its people.