Unlocking the J.Lo Challenge: Morocco (pictures to come soon)

I can honestly say that when I first decided to study abroad in Europe I never thought I would visit another continent in those 4 months. But with Morocco so temptingly close to Spain, how could I not just randomly visit Africa? Thanks to another European Vibe weekend trip, I was able to visit the country in a much safer atmosphere than if we planned the trip on our own.

Our first introduction to the weekend trip was a jank-tastic flight with Ryanair, full of obnoxious in-flight sales pitches, a rattling perfume cart going up and down the aisle every 20 minutes or so, and let’s just say the landing wasn’t the smoothest I’ve ever experienced. We arrived at an airport slightly bigger than my living room, went through passport control, and jumped on our bus. Our Moroccan guide jumped on board soon after. To our excitement he looked pretty much exactly like Jafar disguised as an old man in Aladdin, though with a slightly less impressive beard. He was hilarious, and ended every sentence with “Okay, please, yes, thank you.” I can’t remember what his real name was, but he quickly earned the name “Rafiki” with his weird jokes and hysterical cackle. Rafiki first took us to Grotte d’Hercule, essentially a cave with an awesome view of the Atlantic and some random underground markets. Afterwards we did something I literally never ever ever thought would happen in my life: we rode camels. But we didn’t just simply ride camels. We rode them on the beach at sunset. SO COOL. Of course I happened to get the pissed off camel both times I went, which was terrifying. He attempted to throw me off his back a few different times, and bleated loudly the entire time. Normal.

For dinner we went to a traditional Moroccan restaurant. Our first course was some sort of soup that tasted like minestrone soup with cinnamon sprinkled in it. Next we had unidentifiable meat pressed around a kebab stick. Third course brought us cous cous with chicken, vegetables, and even more cinnamon. For dessert we had sweet mint tea with some amazing pastry similar to baklava. I don’t know what I expected the food to be like in Morocco, but I was definitely pleasantly with surprised with what we had.

That night my friend Katharine introduced all of our friends to a game my family has been obsessed with for years: mafia. This is a game of deceit, bluffing, alliances, and manipulation. For those who don’t know how to play but have a lot of time on their hands, here’s an extensive explanation of the game. We typically played with one mafia, a detective, and an angel (but sometimes we got a lil crazy and had two mafiosi). We played mafia so much during the weekend that suspicions and accusations started carrying over from one game to the next. That’s when you know it’s time to move on. Not that we did.

The next day Rafiki took us on a walking tour of the Casbah, the old section of Tangier. We rocked it (hehe). We were first taken to a “snake charmer,” which in reality ended up being a guy slapping a snake around on the ground. Underwhelming, but it actually got pretty cool when he let people put the snake around their neck to take a picture. After getting our bearings a bit more, we headed into a rug shop where they gave us a demonstration of the different kinds of rugs made in Morocco. Definitely a weird experience, but also really cool! Aaaand yeah, I did end up buying a tiny throw rug. Judge me. Next we went to a “pharmacy,” a little shop where they explained and encouraged us to buy their random cures for any and every ailment. He insisted you could destress, lose weight, avoid baldness, and probably end world hunger just by using his special rose lotion. Too bad it seemed like a cheaper version of the 2 dollar lotions I bought from Bath and Body Works when I was 10. My favorite part of the experience was when he encouraged us to smell eucalyptus seeds from inside his handkerchief in order to clear our sinuses. He very adamantly stated over and over again “I AM NOT MAKING YOU HIGH. I AM NOT MAKING YOU HIGH.” Thanks for the info, whackjob.

Later in the afternoon we took a bus ride to another town called Asilah where we wandered around the markets. It was so beautiful and right on the water, but there wasn’t a whole lot to do. We pretty much only walked around, ate lunch, drank sweet mint tea, and watched my friend Rob purchase a fez. A day well spent, I’d say.

Back in Tangier that night (after many many many rounds of mafia) we went on what was supposed to be a bar crawl with our tour. We were all kind of nervous about going out in Morocco because we heard some awful stories, but we figured we’d be alright in the group. Nothing super sketchball happened, thank god. We were so exhausted from all the walking around that we barely even made it to the first place, a really intense hookah bar. Next we were supposed to head to a club, but only 3 out of the 80 or so people in our tour actually made it. Whoops. We took the logical next step: everyone came to my hotel room, we pushed the four twin beds together to make one mega bed, and we played mafia until people (read: Kathleen) started falling asleep.

The next morning we headed on an early flight back to Madrid. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Morocco was one of the weirdest weekends I’ve ever experienced. It was so fun, but more bizarre than anything. It definitely made me excited to go on our annual Yosemite trip with the cousins for more intense games of mafia. I’m prepared to dominate.

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