Friday, May 21, 2010

The Good Life, coast-of-Africa style

We had SUCH a good time on our trip to Morocco! Everything was perfect and fabulous! The weather, the food, the pool (well, okay, the pool was a *little* cold!).

We left our house at about 11 a.m. on Monday, and arrived in Agadir at around 1 a.m. And there's no time difference! It was a long day of travel (to base, to the airport, to Morocco, and to the resort) and we were getting a little tired and cranky by the time we got there. We decided to go straight to bed and start our vacation off on the right foot on Tuesday morning.

A typical day on my vacation: 
We would put on our bathing suits & cover-ups and head to breakfast, where we were the most under-dressed people there. That will happen when you are vacationing with about 60% French people. Beautiful, stylish, perfectly coiffed French people. Breakfast was pretty good... they had English breakfast stuff--eggs, "bacon", beans, potatoes, what I consider "European" breakfast stuff-- granola, yogurt & dried fruits, a big selection of pastries & donuts (but not jelly-filled ones!), a variety of fresh fruit, tons of tea that looked & smelled beautiful, but I wasn't sure how to make it, crepes every day and one other option--my favorite were these cornmeal (?) pancakes. You could ask for an omelet and there was another station where you could get fresh fruit juice---my favorite was apple & banana, which is strange, because I bought some apple-banana juice at Aldi a few weeks ago and I think it tastes like baby food. The fresh was SO good though!

After brekky, it's time to head to the pool!

We tried to get a super-comfy lounge bed every morning. We only ended up on  lounge chairs once, and only moved to a different bed location once too (because someone "stole" the bed we had put our towels least they gave our towels back though!) That was a single bed, but David was only around for a short part of that day anyway. And even the single beds were big enough for two.
Here's where we could normally be found:
The double beds were comfortable, had pillows (our favorite day was the day our bed had three pillows on it!) and had plenty of room to play Phase 10 or Scrabble, and we did one or the other every single day (except Thursday, because David golfed on Thursday).

After lounging in the sun (or under the big umbrellas) for 2 or 3 hours, we went up to lunch. Most days, we ate pizza, with a large side of olives, cucumbers & tomatoes. There was also pasta, panini, and a different restaurant where we had grilled meats, tagines, different pasta, meat & vegetable salads. We preferred the pizza because it was delicious, closer to the pool, and we could sit outside.

Sometimes in the afternoons, we got involved in the resort activities...David was practically the Tikida Beach MVP winning Archery & Darts competitions and I held my own and scooped up 2nd place in darts one day. The darts contests were pretty silly, with three different throws-- sometimes it was throw regular, throw with your left hand, throw all 3 darts at once, throw blindfolded, throw blindfolded while sitting in a chair. I went to belly dance lesson one day (I learned that I'm not a belly dancer, ha!), to a traditional tagine cooking workshop (which was delicious!!) and to learn to make Mint Tea in the Agadir region way. Yum yum! I looooove the mint tea, it tastes like liquid gum!!

And we spent a little time in the pool almost every day... it took up a lot of courage to get in, because the water was freezing! We felt bad for Omar from the "Animation" team who had to jump in every morning at 10 for "AquaGym"/water aerobics, so we joined him on our last day.

Other than that, we stuck to the sun beds for more Scrabble, reading, Phase 10, naps and relaxation until about 5 when we would pack it in, give up the bed and go shower and get ready for the evening.

After dinner, we always went to the "Bar Cascade" to enjoy the lounge singer & evening entertainment. There was a show every night at 2130... a magician, a very strange dancer who spun around and around for at least 8 minutes and had a skirt that lit up, a belly dancer, a bird show, and a "Moroccan evening"--which we missed because we had to go to the airport. We had a few drinks & played card game after card game (Three-Thirteen, King's Corners, Golf, Poker) until bedtime.
 (this is the twirling dancer! he looks like a spacecraft!)

That photo is a little misleading... we usually sat indoors & I usually had mojitos instead of mint tea!

Changes in our daily routine:

Tuesday--On our first full day in Morocco, we were given a time to meet with a guy from our tour operator. We went into the lobby at noon and listened to him tell about all of the excursions we could sign up for. We chose two-- Agadir City Tour & Fantasia Moroccan Experience. The Agadir City Tour left that afternoon!

On our Agadir City Tour, we met Peter & Doreen, an older couple from Yorkshire. They were beginning their 2nd week in Agadir and had already done another tour or two.
On the bus, we learned that Agadir had been just about completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1960. It was Feb 29, and they wanted to do something to commemorate the 50th anniversary this year, but half of the decision-makers thought the ceremony should be on the 28th and the other half thought it should be on March 1, and by the time they finally agreed to a date, there wasn't enough time to plan it!
We stopped in a museum where we learned a lot about the symbolism in Berber jewelry & rugs. I thought it was very interesting.
Then we went up to the Medina/Kasbah. I had bigger expectations of the Kasbah, and it really fell short, in my opinion. The views were great and I loved the way the building looked like a sand castle, but #1--it was really stressful up there as people immediately swarmed you trying to sell you jewelry, make you pet goats, take you for a camel ride, put a snake around your neck, etc. and then demand money even though you kept saying "NO" (or "NON" I suppose, since they parlent francais.) and #2--we didn't actually go IN anything or walk around the building... just looked at the view and got back on the bus and #3--I still don't really have a clear understanding of what the Kasbah is, any of the history behind it, or why on earth we should rock it.

After the Kasbah, we drove through the marina, which was stinky and a little depressing... 
Then on a little walk to see something... I'm not sure exactly what... something about the earthquake. But I think it was really designed to take us to the tour leader's buddy's store. :) No matter where you go, some things are the same! 

We made a quick stop at a Mosque named for Muhammed 5th. We couldn't go in, but took some pictures outside and learned that there are 5 doors to the Mosque--one for men, one for women, one for dead people, one for officials and one more...didn't hear who that one was for. And also that there are 69 mosques in Agadir, as well as 2 churches and one synagogue.

After the mosque, we headed to the souk. The souk is a market, closed in by sandcastle looking walls. My goal for Morocco was to buy a tagine and I entered the souk on a mission! I feel like I've been through a souk-like market when we were in Tokyo/Asakusa. It's kind of over-stimulating, and there's one that's more than triple the size of the Agadir souk in Marrakech. I'm glad we didn't go there...this one was crowded, confusing & crazy enough! There were spices, fruits, chickens (killed fresh to order...ew!), housewares, clothing, and touristy stuff. We bought 3 items--a tagine, a little "treasure chest" and an ash tray that got thrown in with the tagine in our "haggling".

 The spices smelled soooo good, and so did this little block of amber that the salesguy rubbed on our wrists.
After the souk, we headed back to our hotel, where we had dinner reservations at the Moroccan restaurant. The inside of the restaurant was so cool! Everything was covered in gorgeous burgundy and gold fabrics, we ended up seated at a table with chairs, but some seats were at couches with tons of cushions. The soup we had was so tasty. We also had dates. Then they brought each of us a plate piled high with "Couscous Royale"--couscous with tagine meats & veggies and golden raisins. So good! David ate all of his food, but there was no way I could finish 2/3 of mine!  Dessert was also very yummy, Moroccan pastries. Our favorite one was a rolled dessert that reminded me a little bit of baklava......if the layers were made of ice cream cones instead of phyllo! My first taste of Moroccan mint tea---liquid Wrigley's Doublemint-- with dessert.

We deviated from our regular routine on Wednesday night, too... we left the resort at quarter til 8 pm for an evening of traditional Moroccan dinner & entertainment. On the way to our dining "tent", we heard music, ate dates, drank milk, saw snake charmers, ate freshly baked and delicious Berber bread, and took pictures. Once seated, we had veggies as a starter, then some little stuffed triangles, followed by a huge platter of basically the same thing we had eaten the night before at our Moroccan restaurant! A DELICIOUS pastry with some kind of almondy-cream over it for our first dessert, and other pastries with mint tea while waiting for the entertainment outside were all delicious. At our dinner table, we met another (older) couple staying at our resort, and a British woman married to a guy from Peru. In between each course, the entertainers came in singing, chanting, playing instruments, dancing. They did this wild dancing where they were bouncing while squatting low to the ground and would then jump super-high from the squat position. It was really impressive. It was also impressive when David (and other tourists!) joined in the dancing toward the end of the evening.

We moved from the tent to the "stage" outside, where we sat on red carpets and ate our pastries & drank tea while watching a horse show, acrobats, fire jugglers, and a belly dancer. It was chilly out there, so I welcomed the heat every time the fire guy did his fire breathing thing!

We got back to the resort around midnight and were exhausted!

Thursday- The last day that things weren't all swimming pool & bar Cascade was our third day there. David went golfing & I stayed in the shade all day because I was sunburnt! David came back about 3 and we sat in the shade for a little while, then got ready for our dinner reservation at the seafood restaurant. The buffet lunch is served in the same place, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, but for tonight, the set menu was a salmon carpaccio (I think?) to start and then seafood paella! It was pretty good... and we weren't the only ones who thought so:
The resort kitty, who I decided to call "Tiny Moby" made himself at home in the restaurant, and everyone took their turn feeding him bits of seafood when he went to each table!
Monday was our last day in Morocco... although I had begun to believe otherwise. The volcanic ash cloud couldn't decide what it wanted to do about closing Heathrow & Gatwick. I was hoping for another day by the pool, or at least to stay one last night so we'd get to see the Moroccan evening entertainment! I kept holding out hope that our flight would be canceled, but no such luck! David stayed in the shade all day on Monday, but I took in my last doses of sunshine 20 minutes at a time. We left the pool around 4 on Monday so we could be showered, packed, dressed before checking out at 6. We went to the lounge and spent time with the friends we made on our tours after a few last card games. Then we all went to dinner together and it was all Moroccan food-- delicious tagines, couscous, Berber bread, pastries... it was the perfect send-off! We took pictures with the Animation staff, Uni, Omar & Neeza, who had been so friendly all week and really made our vacation even more special!

Then we rode the coach to the airport, hung out with our old English pals a little longer and made our way to the gate, where we were delayed about an hour. The flight home wasn't too bad... but poor David didn't get to sleep as much as he would've liked to. We landed at about 3:30 a.m. and then had a 2/2.5 hour drive home from the airport. We went straight to bed when we got home at around 6!

We LOVED our vacation!!!

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