Our short stay in Casablanca ended with a low key morning. We had an outstanding breakfast at Citizen coffee & more, a cafe around the corner from our hotel and then retraced some steps from yesterday.
We had passed a store called La Grande Recre or The Big Recess (Arabic is the first language of Morocco, the second is French). It’s a large toy store with – you guessed it, Legos. The kids’ shopping experience included browsing the selection, reminiscing about sets they already own and in the end, the purchase of two small sets, one by CreeperKitty and one by CreeperPuppy.
After the toy store we walked back over to the the Arab League Park for some real life recré. The weather was more favorable today with some sunshine poking through the clouds so lots of families were out enjoying the park along with ours.
At about 3pm we hopped into our transport van for the 2.5 hour drive southwest to Marrakech. We could have flown, but with 5 of us and a good highway between the two cities, driving made more sense. Plus it gave us a chance to see the countryside of Morocco.
The desert of Egypt and Dubai and the sparse vegetation of Kenya seem to have made us forget how many shades of green a landscape can hold. Spring is springing in Morocco with bright shoots of new crops in the fields and small colorful flowers growing by the roadside. Small villages with traditional looking buildings appear regularly along the hilly landscape.
As we came into the outskirts of Marrakech we started to see roadside handcraft shops as a preview of what we’ll see in town.
We’re staying in the old part of the City known as the Medina. Our van passed through the outer walls and took us another 5 minutes through increasingly narrow streets. Then he stopped and called for our host to meet us. Once she arrived our luggage was transferred to a hand cart pushed by a local. We followed our belongings through the busy streets crowded with locals on foot, motorcycle, scooter and bicycle. We didn’t take photos while we walked, it was to much amazing hustle and bustle but we went back later to grab a pic.
Finally we followed the cart around a turn into a much quieter side alley and then another. There, the cart had to stop as the next paths were too narrow even for it.
Our guesthouse is a traditional Moroccan home organized around a central courtyard known as a riad. This one has been renovated with care and is lovely, large and seems a perfect quiet spot inside the busy city walls. Like all riads, our bedrooms and baths are on the ground floor surrounding the courtyard with its three orange trees. One level up is a living area. Level three has the kitchen and dining table and at the top is a roof deck overlooking the Medina (and all it’s many satellite dishes).
The housekeeper who met us at the van had prepared traditional Moroccan mint tea and pastries to welcome us. She then cooked a typical Moroccan dinner while we settled in to our new space and the boys built their Lego sets. The food was as lovely as the riad. We think we’ll like it here.