Our bodies may be be home again, but our minds are still in Morocco. It was every bit the adventure we hoped for and more. I hardly know where to begin. Oh, yes; actually, I do know exactly where: Hamid. He was truly wonderful.
A great deal of the success of the trip is owed directly to him. Within 30 seconds of meeting him, we knew we were in good hands and that feeling grew stronger every day. “Hamid will know” very quickly became our mantra for the entire trip and Hamid always did know, no matter what oddball question we asked, and the deftness with which he navigated the insane traffic congestion in Casablanca and Marrakech was downright awe-inspiring, to say nothing of the drive over the Tichka Pass. Best of all, he was just a great person to share time and good conversation with. We loved him. There may have been some tears when we had to say good-bye.
I am inclined to say the whole trip was one big highlight, but if I must choose, well, then: Chefchaouen was delightful, Abdul was a superb guide, and the staff at the riad were exceptiona; so warm and caring. Talassemtane was stunning— the Moroccan Glen Coe, we called it, than which there is no greater praise. Volubilis was a surprise; I’ve explored my share of Roman ruins, but never any as extensive and unimpeded by modernity as those. Hamid Two (or Hamidus Maximus, as he twinklingly told us he preferred) was also a great guide; deeply knowledgeable and wonderfully engaging. The old m’dina in Fes was not only another world but another time, or perhaps no time at all; then and now, the centuries all blurred together. There was an evening on the roof terrace of lovely Riad Fes when my daughter and I sat watching the sun setting behind the distant ochre hills while close formations of pink-winged doves wheeled through the sky and the fourth call to prayer echoed all around us; perfection. And then there was the desert. The whole experience was otherworldly. Riding a camel was easier than we expected it to be, and the sunset was glorious. (Why, however, are there always those people who find it impossible to remain quiet for even a few minutes? Never again in their lives are they likely to hear silence so vast and deep, but they were too busy chattering, giggling, and taking selfies to know what they were missing. They couldn’t spoil the moment for the rest of the little group on the ridge, though.) Then, later that still and moonless night, Ibrahim spread a blanket and cushion for me in the near-dunes before accompanying my son and daughter on a walk further out, leaving me alone with the stars. That was it; my moment of moments, lying there, looking up, floating in eternity. I have ridden a camel across red desert sands and swum in the Milky Way. Life is a wonder.
Not only would I recommend your company, I already have. Start to finish, you were all terrific— and wonderfully patient with my thousand questions as we prepared for our departure. That, of course, was before we learned the universal answer: Hamid will know. But you all knew, too; the proof was in how smoothly all the logistics clicked together with not a single hitch. The tour was an ideal introduction to the amazing diversity of Morocco. Now that we have done it (and have become instant experts!), there are a couple of things we’d want to do differently if we are fortunate enough to come back one day, as we would love to do. For one, we wouldn’t stay at the The Berber Palace. It felt like a Florida condo and the food was decidedly mediocre; it really suffered in comparison to our other accommodations, all of which were outstanding. (I will not soon forget the scattering of rose petals that greeted us in our rooms at Riad Lina!) We would want to spend more time in the countryside and a bit less in the cities, and find opportunities to walk out into the landscape where possible, away from the highway. I had a yearning to wander through an olive grove, for example— or amongst the flowering almond trees. Next visit (Inshallah!), a little more unstructured time in Marrakech would be welcome, too, for strolling and looking and shopping. We did our best for the Moroccan economy, but could do so much more now that we know the treasures available! Likewise, more time for the m’dina in Fes would be welcome. It’s a sensory wonderland of colors, aromas, sounds, and textures; a thousand images beg for the camera, a thousand shops entice with an Aladdin’s cave worth of temptations, much more than can be properly appreciated in a single visit, and all the while, yet another excellent guide was sharing fascinating information that needed to be recorded and processed. It was an impossible abundance to absorb at one go; we would very much like to have another turn. More time seems to be the common theme….
Oh, my. Just talking about all of this makes me want to sign up for that return trip right now! I’ve attached a couple of pictures, as requested, but the ones you want are my son’s, he being an actual photographer. I’ll ask him to send a few along.
Our sincere thanks to you all for arranging an adventure the three of us will cherish forever.
The Coleman Family, USA (February 2016)