So last weekend I set food on a new continent: Africa. I left rainy Amsterdam and landed in sunny Marrakech three hours later, a place where the dollar is actually stronger than the local currency(!!!). After the customs guy stamped my passport, I stumbled into the blindingly bright airport lobby into the arms of my college roommate, who was embarking on this adventure with me. We found a place to stay on Airbnb (an entire apartment to ourselves+cheaper than a hostel=happy girls), and our host had sent a car service to pick us up. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in Morocco; I had read that Marrakech is the most cosmopolitan city in the country, but after living in the most cosmopolitan city in the world for the past two years (*cough* NYC), I was surprised. Taxi cabs looked like they were from the ’80s, horse-drawn cabs trot along the roads with all the other traffic, and camels lounge on the side of the highway. No skyscrapers, no Nordstrom, no nightclubs.
While I knew I was traveling to a Muslim country, I was surprised by the degree of conservatism I faced. All of the local women wore a hijab of some kind, and less-informed tourists donning tank tops and shorts received dirty looks. It was pretty clear during my whole stay that this was a male-dominated society. Restaurants and cafes were packed with local men, and we received strange looks as we looked for dinner every night. Eating in a restaurant full of cigar smoking men, with few or no other women, was definitely not the worlds most comfortable experience.
Overall, though, Marrakech was a magical city. I bought beautiful things at the Medina, including a stunning leather handbag and colorful spices, rode a camel, and visited the beautiful Majorelle gardens. The colors and sights of Morocco were intoxicating, and I will definitely be back– maybe next time I’ll make it to Casablanca.