“Such an Exceptional Journey!”

We had a really wonderful and interesting time in Morocco and can’t thank you enough for all you did to make it such an exceptional journey. Our driver Hamid became a really good friend during our travels and we spent a lot of time together. He even took us to his home and introduced us to his wife. He is an exceptional driver and we felt safe and well cared for every step of the way.

What a fascinating country Morocco is — from its very well preserved culture to its definitely contemporary highlights. Past and present blend well, but the past happily doesn’t feel compelled to merge itself into today’s modern world. For travelers like us, who’ve been dismayed at the McD’s on every corner, this is so refreshing. The scenery is exceptional, and we did traverse the country so we saw a lot of it. From mountains to gorges to desert to little villages and perfectly preserved kasbahs, it was all a treat for the eyes. (Well, I’m not so wild about the snake charmers, but that’s just me!) Who knew Morocco was such an agricultural enclave (I don’t think of farming when it comes to deserts, but was proven very wrong.) Also, who knew that Morocco was second only to the U.S. in the export of phosphate. Dates (the fruit) are also an important export. They were being harvested during our visit and we were treated to them fresh from the tree. Yum!

For a country very much in touch with its past, Morocco has a foot firmly in the present. Every where you look, there is new construction. Fez has doubled in size in the past decade or so. There appears to be a lot of foreign investment. The King is very much on the tourism band wagon, roads are good, especially past the scenic spots, and the people seem to like tourists…and the money they bring in. But nothing stops the real life in Morocco — donkeys pull wagons, villagers shop the markets, workers man the fields, shepherds tend the sheep and goats. Djellabas are everywhere in small towns, where life doesn’t appear to have changed.

We saw villages prepare for the arrival of the king, with bright red flags installed on the highways at the sites where he would most probably arrive, though it was not really certain. “He may come,” said Hamid, who has seen disappointment in villages and towns before, when plans changed. But, we did precede his arrival in Ouarzazate and Marrakesh, and followed his 100 van advance team of troops ready to pave the way. Funny story: the convoy made a wrong turn at a roundabout and had to turn around to go the right way. Very amusing to see 100 vans repeat three-point turns and the lead car become the last car. I’m sure it all worked out fine, though, as the king arrived at the Berber Palace Hotel uneventfully and participated in a global finance meeting in Marrakesh.

Our accommodations were delightful — even the night in the desert — and we couldn’t have been more pleased. Riads are a fine place to stay and I would recommend them to anyone. You get to meet the other guests and it all feels very personal and comfortable. We met some fellow travelers we’d love to keep in touch with. Rooms are spacious, often bordering on luxurious.

There’s so much more to tell about Morocco and our observations, but I’ve gone on way too long. Thank you all for putting together such an adventure for us. We will remember the experience always. Oh yes, yesterday I received information on an 11-day trip to Morocco in March sponsored by a Harvard group. The cost, without airfare, was in excess of $7000. Their accommodations were slightly different, but their ports of call were exactly the same. So, you’re not only a great adventure tour company, but you’re a good value too!

Thanks again, Lynn Barrington RI