Alecia Cohen and our driver Tajar Najoui are the best. I am so thankful we booked our trip with them! I admit to being reluctant to go on this trip and also confess to being out of my normal comfort zone in just considering such a trip, but I was thrilled at the wonder of it all. Our trip exceeded all expectations and has become the trip of our lifetime! The people are warm and friendly and we felt very safe the entire time. It was fascinating to talk with Tahar about the current political situation in Africa and to learn of his experiences in Morocco. He answered our questions with patience and thoughtfulness and he was flexible and accommodating. The places we stayed overnight were great and Alecia's attention to details made the trip easy and an overall joy. The guides were most knowledgeable and they knew their subject areas well. It was nice to meet various guides as opposed to one guide for an entire trip. I normally don't write reviews like this but the trip was so wonderful that I wanted to write something but superlatives don't do the trip justice. One must go and experience Morocco to really appreciate its wonders (similar to how I could not explain a bite of chocolate cake to you, you have to taste it to understand).
Post trip impressions:"Morocco to me has been a country of contrasts and extremes. The topography starting with Casablanca by the sea, the high Atlas mountains and the Sahara desert on the other side. Frigid mountain temps and welcomed cold mountain air. People in the mountains are completely shut off in winter. Opulent kasbahs and palaces on one hand and people living off the land in tents like they have for thousands of years with their sheep and goats on the roof or in an adjacent room. Only some women in cities deliver babies in hospitals, everyone else delivers at home. Nomads still wander from place to place depending on the weather. People practice using tools and methods used for centuries. So little has changed yet so much has changed. Moroccans embrace modernity in terms of cell phones but many people still have donkeys or camels as their only mode of transport other than their two feet. Villages often have no roads, just foot paths. It truly has been a trip back in time. Every city/town neighborhood seems to be filled with houses in various stages of construction because you build what you can afford and then stop until you can afford to build more. Morocco serves as the nexus between Europe and Africa and those influences plus the influence of its many conquerors over history make for some amazing combinations of food and architecture. As the western most Muslim/Arabic country the people are amazingly tolerant and welcoming. My sense of their religion is one of appreciation and respect as they respect everyone. The historical influence of the Jews, who left in 1956, is still felt. There is no such thing as a weight limit on a truck other than if it tips over its too much...we saw many trucks loaded to the gills and just prayed they wouldn't fall on us. We have eaten street food for 5 dollars roasted lamb chops and ate at a 2 star Michelin rated French restaurant last night. Peace and serene quiet atop 1700 meter mountains and cacophany in the city squares... extremes that I will continue to savor as I remember this trip of a lifetime."
Everything we saw was very different than US but amazing in its own right. For example, we spent one day in the Fes medina, a series of 9600 tiny streets that sit behind a fortress wall with houses built starting in 1200. The people who live and work there use tools and practices that are hundreds of years old too. We saw ancient tannery practices where men stomp hides in vats like Italians stomp grapes. Occupations and goods are grouped in souks and bargaining is an art form. The whole day was a true step back in time...utterly amazing! in contrast the new part of Fes is built to resemble the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
I highly recommend moving Morocco up to the top of your travel dance card.