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    • Morocco Camel Trekking in Merzouga Desert , You need advice .?

      Morocco Mar 27, 2015 at 7:15 AM

      We started our Moroccan trip from Fes, after visiting the most important places, we left the Fes Medina mid-day to roam and explore the nouville, French for the new city part of Fes. Our bus was not departing till 9 at night so we had time to chill out in the city center. While the others went to re-up on some supplies, I stayed to watch the bags. A few kids came on bikes and I filmed them with my gopro. We quickly made friends despite the language barrier. They were eager to share their tricks for the camera. I gave them some graffiti stickers and share facebook information. Facebook, Everyone in Morocco has it.

      A few mint teas, coffees and getting lost, we found ourselves at the CTM bus station.. There was a German trio playing a guitar, where Thanecha immediately took to join. New friends were instantly made by the love for music, but we never knew how good of friends they would soon become. We had a nine hour, overnight bus ride to Rissani, a stop over to Merzouga, where the Sahara meets Morocco.

      After a long, sleepless and sometimes painful 9 hours, we arrived in Rissani, at 6am, before the sun broke the horizon. A man named Mohammed approached us and asked if we wanted some food and drink at his cafe, which he claimed was open, warm and just down the street. It sounded good to us as the Germans joined us. Immediately, this man gave some negative vibes, one of those gut feelings you get when you know something is not right.

      His cafe, Panorama Cafe, was not open or even his and took 10 minutes for someone to unlock it. I called him out on it, and he was quick to be on defense. "Why would I lie to you, my friend?" I dismissed him as we entered with the Germans.

      One of the German girl's boyfriend was coming from Merzouga to come get them, so they hung out with us until then. Mohammed's odd demeanor continued, as he pushed his services on me. I repeatedly said I had an excursion booked and I did not need his assistance in getting to Merzouga. All I or anyone of my group was interested was some tea and coffee. He persisted and was desperate, showing me pictures and videos of his resort and 4x4. He exclaimed that the boyfriend coming to pick them up was total BS because it took jobs away. He mumbled on in Arabic as we figured him out. He knew we figured him out and called his friends to come to his rescue.

      He offered all sorts of BS answers to our questions, and would shout Africa! or USA USA! AMERICA!!! when he didnt know what to say. He eventually brought out tea for all of us, when Ryan said, I am not drinking anything this man gives us. Apparently Mohammed touched a member of our group inappropriately up on the roof terrace moments before. When the tea came out, he switched Thanechas cup with another. It was deliberate and we saw it. Something is going on and not in a good way. His desperation continues as we fight off his advances.

      Finally having enough, we all left to wait with the Germans outside, as their ride was near by. We walked down the road back towards the bus stop, where he gets in his 4x4 chases us, threatening to call the police if we catch a ride with the Germans. We had no intentions to catch a ride with them, it was just an alibi. Just then, a big blue caravan appears around the corner, to the jumping Germans delight and Mohammed's despair. By now he was yelling at us to take his offer, yet we continue to thank him and refuse while walking away. He calls his friend to come help him not let this caravan get away by boxing it in, one car in the front and Mohammed in the back. We attempted to block his efforts to block the caravan by standing in front of his car, almost running over Ryan and Thanecha in the process. He was literally pressing the gas with two people in front of him. He threatened to call the police on us and the Germans if we got in. Tempers were high as shouting matches began, in the middle of town. What is going on?

      The Germans get in drove off leaving us trying to find a taxi, which apparently can only be found in front of his cafe. There is no way that was going to happen. We continue to walk in the opposite direction, repeatedly getting out of his car, claiming he is sorry and asks for forgiveness. By now, everyone in our group is just as hostile, all shouting at him to just leave us alone. I remained calm, thanked him and explained that there was no way we would be accepting any services from him. We walked down another street as far away as possible, cooling our tempers in the process. Did we just screw ourselves? He is probably in cahoots with every cab here, how are we getting to Merzouga?

      About a kilometer down the road, around the bend and out of sight of his cafe, the blue caravan appears. The Germans! They circled back around town unbeknownst to everyone in town, including ourselves. They quickly turned the caravan around and tell us to get in, and make it quick!

      We frantically pile in, lay on the floor in a small space, and drove away. These people were searching for us and came to our rescue. I can't thank them enough.

      We escaped to Merzouga and was greeted with massive sand dunes as soon as we stepped out from the big blue steed.

      After saying bye to our German saviors, we walked over to the hotel next door. At the gate, I saw a young man who looked like he just woke up, but he looked familiar, "Hassan Mouhou?" I asked. "Yeah," he replied. He looked just like the avatar he had on the emails we had exchanged earlier in the year. Short curly black hair, a young round friendly face and dark olive skin colored by the desert sun. I booked a camel excursion through his company ( Morocco Excursions Company => www.Morocco-Excursion.com) ------ (and they come highly recommended as you will read why). We exchanged hellos and he brought us the traditional Berber whiskey (tea - sans the alcohol) out on the sky terrace of the hotel. Hassan was very welcoming and just wanted to hang out, which caught me by surprise. He didn't try to push anything on us or sell us more junk, he just want to talk story and show us a good time. He even knew of Mr. Mohammed from Rissani. He showed us around Center of Merzouga just for fun until he had to prepare for our desert excursion.

      After a light meal, we returned to the hotel packed our bags and went out back to the hotel. There sat eight, single-humped dromedaries, snorting and farting away, ready to trek to camp. I know this is about as touristy as it gets, but hopping on one of those living desert cars and headed towards nothing but orange sand, lit by the low desert sun was surreal. Our former nomad guides, Youssef and Said, lead us and the camels by foot, towards the dunes. Our mini caravan of 6 camels trekked over 7km, across dunes as far as the eye could see. Some dunes were taller than 300 meters, simply incredible. None of us could get over the fact that we were riding dromedaries, into the Saharan desert, in Africa, on Christmas eve.

      Our guides dropped us off at a tall dune just short of camp, leaving us to hike to the top to catch our first Saharan sunset. It felt like we were children again, running up and down the dunes, laughter drifting in the quiet desert air. Was this really happening? We were in the Sahara Desert! After an obligatory mini photo shoot, we dug in and sat on the edge of a sand dune, boots off and toes in the sand, and watched the sun disappear in the distance. Perfect, simply perfect.

      Christmas night was even better. Camp was full, nearly 25 total fellow tourist, some of them wasted, singing and dancing around the fire. It was amazing to say the least. People from all over the world all having a good time around the camp fire in the Sahara. The Berber nomads encouraged every one to join in, all while having an even better time themselves. We danced and sang the night away, with drums and even a guitar for Thanecha. When our turn to sing a song came up, we rapped the fresh prince of Bellair, naturally. All the English speakers joined in about a story all about how my life got twisted upside down.... We told jokes and riddles again, under the stars that seemed to be so bright that they could cast shadows. We partied the night away, having the time our of lives. Not your typical Christmas, but definitely one to remember.

      You can read more about our Moroccan experience by visiting our blog : http://www.marcuscoania.com/blog/

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    • Tattoos in Marrakesh

      Morocco Apr 8, 2015 at 5:15 PM

      My partner and I are planning to travel to Marrakesh next week and I was wondering what the social attitude is like towards piercings and tattoos? He has a sleeve of Christian icons so im expecting that it should be covered in respect of the predominantly Islamic culture there but in terms of neck tattoos (of flowers so quite inoffensive) and tattoos and piercings on women, would these be frowned on?

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    • budget hotel

      Marrakesh Mar 27, 2015 at 8:24 AM

      Does anyone know a clean budget hotel like Ryad mogador at bab doukkala. Just for nice breakfast. It must be placed safely for late night returning and not in the spooky Medina.i say bab doukala because its twixt guelis and la place jemma el fynaa.

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    • Living in Marrakesh

      Marrakesh Apr 10, 2015 at 12:37 PM

      Hi everyone
      I was offered a job in Marrakesh and I'm seriously thinking to move there from London. I'm gonna go by myself.
      I've never been there before and unfortunately I'm not gonna be able to visit the country before I accept the job
      What do you think are the most important thinks I need to know about how is living there?
      Thanks

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    • Any positive views of Marrakech?

      Marrakesh Apr 6, 2015 at 4:04 PM

      Just wondering after reading all the comments on the warning tips, if Marrakech is really the place I want to go to, I am due to leave on 28/04/15 but am thinking am I better to stay at home? No one seems to have a good word to say about it!

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