HELLO STRANGERS!!!

I guess we can’t trust my pinky promises, but this time I cross my heart and hope to die that my posts will be more frequent. Better?

So where did we leave off? March 3rd, one of the best days of the year (momma’s birthday), and I was about to start a weekend of studying for my first Italian exam…but little old me got the FLU. Immune system, are you still there? So, from the 3rd until the 10th, I spent half of my time attempting to take in everything Italian art and architecture, Greco-Roman to Gothic, Ghiberti to Giotto; the other half in a constant daze of prescription drugs.

BUT ALAS! I made it through, and that following Friday I not only took my midterm, but also met with a heart surgeon at the hospital to set up an internship. What a way to kick a cold! After, it was obviously time to celebrate with over-priced drinks and good company.

Saturday was Sarah’s birthday, so we had a little girl’s night with Ceci and ate some darn good Amaretto chocolate cake (thanks mommy Sarah!). Sunday was another relaxing day, as I knew my immune system could play some tricks on me if I wasn’t careful, so it was definitely a day full of naps.

It was Wednesday when things got exciting…I went to…MOROCCO!!! Where the tides will take you…even the hostel was gorgeous!

Sarah and I ventured to Marrakech with a travel group called Bus2Alps (highly recommend them, by the way), of which coordinated all of our events, housing, transportation, meals, and more with anyone who signed up. What a way to make fast friends, huh? We arrived late Wednesday night, so we began our exploration Thursday afternoon for lunch with our leader (shoutout to you, Marcie) of meatball and quail egg tajine (a type of Moroccan stew) and chicken pastilla (a type of Moroccan meat pie); my tastebuds were dancing for joy.

Just look at the joy in those chin dimples!

Afterwards, Sarah and I explored the souk nearest our hostel (souk = an Arab market) and spent way too much money in way too little time. And the best part? For all of you Sex and the City fanatics out there (which honestly should just be everyone past puberty), I met one of our favorite men from the second movie…Aziz! For anyone who doesn’t remember this VIP, he was the shopowner who sold Carrie a pair of shoes (before she ran into her ex Ethan…in Morocco…movies are weird?) and who then returned to her her passport she had left. YOU GUYS, HE WAS THE REAL HERO OF THE FILM! And not just that, I got to buy some cute jewelry from the sweet man. Fangirl life MADE.

Upon returning back to Earth after my mini-celebrity moment, we met up with another girl on the program (hi Meghan, I adore you) and our adorable tour guide, Ali, for some authentic aspects of the markets. We visited woodwork and jewelry shops, some leather workers, and, the coolest of them all, a knots business for traditional Moroccan rugs. Of course I was haggled into buying something at each place…do I have a shopping problem? Actually, don’t answer that.

To end our Thursday, we ate yet another delicious meal of tajine, couscous, salads, and more bread than anyone could ever handle. To top it off, a group of Moroccan performers danced and sang to us and even pulled us in for a little of the action. Click below to see my incredibly awkward dancing skills.

Friday by far was the coolest day. All seven of us had finally made it to Marrakech and we joined in our first group activities. To start, we drove up into the mountains to visit a traditional Berber home (Berber = a member of an indigenous tribe in North Africa) and indulge in some henna, mint tea, homemade bread, honey, olive oil, and butter. You’ve never tasted all of the above until you’ve tasted it from our girl Fatima.

Afterwards, we had a CAMEL RIDE! Turbans and all!

I got a few extra kisses than expected, as you can see.

And to add more excitement, we drove even further into the mountains for what I thought would be a casual, elementary school hike, but turned into scaling vertical rocks with ladders and an unbearable sense of impending doom. Thank god our tour guide didn’t care about my fears and just pulled me every which way he believed was necessary. I guess that worked?

After two hours of building up our unnecessary appetites, we enjoyed lunch with a view, then took the long drive back home with the intentions of not falling back asleep and boy that was difficult (returning to the hostel called for a lengthy nap). After what was just not possibly enough rest, we headed to the square for quite the chaotic dinner and a walk around the bumbling city. Oh, and by the way, the Moroccan men are like Italian men, yet with the vivacity of a toddler, a fact of which I learned when a man offered up 4,000 camels for me. Flattery or freaky? I’m not quite sure, but it was definitely a first time for me. And honestly, I should have just taken one for the team…4,000 camels is a LIFETIME of camel rides. Shoulda done it.

After staying up way too late Friday with way too crappy wine and way too awesome conversation, I was obviously dead for our 8 am call time for Saturday morning. But luckily for me, my morning was filled with a trip to a traditional Moroccan hammam, a type of Turkish bath/spa, fully equipped with massages and every type of organic oil you could need. Boy, did I feel pampered.

After another tour to the many souks and the old university, we had our final meal together Saturday night. A rooftop restaurant with great food and even better beers, I was fully prepped to do something extravagant: eat brains…literally! A traditional food of Morocco, sheep brains are sold so casually on the square you could think it was a hot dog (but not quite in taste). Watch the experience below (WARNING: not for the faint of heart…).

IMG_0187

Needless to say, Morocco was quite the unique experience.

Sunday was filled with travel (beginning at 6 am…yuck) and ended with a sushi night with Ceci, as un-unique for me as possible, and I loved it.

I’ve spent most of my day today in class, resting after that exhaustingly amazing weekend, and dealing with the battles of technology to get all of these photos to you people. And now it’s 1:58 am and I’m just now finished. Maybe I need to learn some better time management skills?

I hope you enjoyed all of the craziness that is my life, and if you wanted to see more of my adventures in Morocco (and trust me, there are much, much more), click the link below for my Facebook album of the trip!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10155895263438098.1073741842.545453097&type=1&l=5acbe6197b

Ciao,

 

– Alex