We were in Morocco. The first day we went on a city tour of Casablanca. We first went to a mosque (Hassan II) that had a tower bigger than Big Ben, just put a clock in it. When we went into it… it was BIG, like big people made it and we were ants to them.
The following day I do not remember much, except for this: We went to Marrakesh and ate in a cool restaurant; the food was good. We went through a market to a really cool school and heard the call to prayer. There is a picture of it below. We also went to a square called The Big Square.
The next day we got up early to go to Meknes. Afterwards, we went to a Roman city. On the way there our guide told us we might see paintings of Roman gods, he said gods like Zeus. Zeus is Greek. It was so cool because the vines crawling up the bricks of some of the homes were HUGE, and then I saw it. I saw COOLNESS (cool thing below).
We then went to a good hotel with great WI-FI so I was able to get some games; then we went back to the ship. And by the way, it is just 67 days till we come back.
I am sure the kids will blog about our trips here, so I will focus on a bit of a travelogue. The first day in Casablanca I had my last (of four) field labs, which are academic experiential learning days with my students. The day went well, and Dan and the kids did a tour of the city while I was away.
The following day we did a very long day trip to Marrakesh. Although I had already decided that these SAS trips would be my first and last experience with “tour bus” travel, this trip, and the overnight one we took to Fez the following two days, solidified that decision. We just do not enjoy travelling in a pack. In both Marrakesh and Fez we were in groups of about 25, and shepherded through souks/medinas/markets like we were on some sort of military manoeuvres. Although we saw more than we would have alone, we never got to spend quality time anywhere. We felt over-scheduled, over-crowded, and just sort of over-everything. We are very much looking forward to the next phase of our travel, where we scale back to a family of four. Of course, then we have to make all our plans ourselves…
Morocco is a gorgeous country, and some of these Arabic and Islamic sites are simply outstandingly beautiful. But honestly, it was more difficult to travel here than it was in India. The old city section of Fez, for example, has over 9500 small winding streets, with many dead ends. Some are so narrow it becomes dark. And although it is (thankfully) the largest car-free area in the world, the donkeys have free reign. Being a little more reflective on the experience, I think our difficulties mainly came from the tour aspect. I would have loved to just find a lovely place in Marrakesh and stay there a few days, as some of our friends did. We would have seen far less, but enjoyed far more. At any rate, here are some final images of this complex place.
Some things we did not expect to see in Morocco, but should have:
1) Fantastic beaches (one in Casablanca pictured here), and
2) Roman ruins. Here are just a few of the pictures of the restored site of Volubilus, which was once the southwest extreme end of the Roman empire (in about 700 BC I think).
I am also including a funny picture of Jack doing part of the Logistical Pre-port lecture before we arrived in Morocco. Why is he doing this, you may ask? Well, it’s a funny story… Each voyage there is a ship-wide auction held to raise money for future Semester at Sea scholarships (this isn’t a cheap voyage). Things that get auctioned off range from the mundane but surprisingly valuable (a jar of Nutella went for $65) to the exotic (5 nights in a hotel in Madagascar) to the unique to SAS (first to leave the ship in England, which went for $1200 I think). One of the SAS items was the chance to be the “Voice” of the ship for a day. Let me explain: each day, three times per day (at least) there are ship wide announcements. These cover things such as the sea depth and temperature, distance travelled since the last port, nearest land, as well as announcement of the day’s activities. Usually completed by Kevin Sternsberg, Assistant Executive Dean (shown in the picture with Jack) this was something Jack really wanted to do. The bidding was fierce, but we won that item, and Jack did the announcements for a day. He loved it, and everyone thought he was pretty funny. (When I get better internet, I will post a short video). Kevin very nicely followed up with a chance for Jack to do the opening of the logistical announcements necessary before we arrived in Morocco (we’ve got that on video as well). Jack improv’d pretty well, and it was funny.
So, here are some pictures of the beach, the ruins, and Jack speaking in front of about 500 students.
Hello from our last stop before England – Morocco!
I will blog soon about the trip itself, but I thought I’d share some cute family photos taken over the last few days before we head out this evening for our last stretch at sea. There is even one with me in it.