Light leak. Park by my house in Oviedo.
More light leaks, and cool tile. Morocco & Oviedo.
Light leak problems. Oviedo & Morocco.
Tangier, Morocco film.
Tangier, Morocco film.
Film developed from Tangier, Morocco
Hola everyone. It’s been a month and a half since I arrived in Spain… and my posts have become a little sparser. I’m going to look at that in a positive way of meaning that I’ve become a little busier. Two weekends ago I went to Morocco with 5 other friends, and it turned out to be a very awesome experience. I’d like to point out that I didn’t know Morocco was in Africa until a couple weeks after I bought my plane ticket… But it just made the trip so much more exciting when I found out. I really am getting a great geography lesson while being over here.
Morocco overall gave me a taste of what a not 1st world country is like… and I want to see more like it. It was dirtier, crazier, worse driving, more poverty, 1 million stray cats that I wanted to help… but also so much new culture to experience… I loved the food, the people (especially our tour guides) and crazy colors/structures of the buildings. We went to Tangier, which is on the Mediterranean/Atlantic, and it was not the prime tourist season, which explains all the stares we got. Anyways, we decided to get some tour guides that we found on trip advisor for a pretty cheap price, but with the best service I’ve experienced in a while. Best decision we made. There were three men. ‘Said’ was the main boss who seemed like the godfather. He’d just show up at all the places we would visit, and then disappear right after. ‘Chico’ was our driver and picked us up from the airport with a sign. Mohammed was our main guide and he was great. We did a walking tour right off the bat and went to a restaurant to get a crazy 5-course meal for 10 Euros (100 dirham). Oh let me tell you, trying to convert dirham (Moroccan $$$) to Euros to dollars is one huge mental workout I haven’t experienced until now. The street vendors probably made some good profits off us…
Friday we did the walking tour, ate dinner, and Mohammed took us into a community cooking room where everyone comes to have their breads cooked. There’s one guy manning the huge brick oven and people will come in, drop off their dough on a shelf, and it will get cooked by the guy. He puts a special mark in each so they won’t get mixed up. Apparently Moroccans love blondes… so I think that’s the reason the guy cooking let me come down into the hole thing to help him cook the bread and take it out. His big toothless smile was unforgettable.
Saturday was the actual tour we paid for… Woke up at our classy hotel (classy for our standards) and had the hotel breakfast which had quite the selection of pastries, fruits, drinks, hot foods, cold foods, etc. Chico and Mohammad picked us up at 10:30, and we went to a snake charmer first. Didn’t quite know what to expect here… we were promised a cobra and holding a snake around our necks and yes the old Moroccan guys pulled through on the snake charming and the snake holding. My fear of snakes goes back to the days of mowing our lawn in Wisconsin where I was always in constant anticipation of a snake ‘jumping’ out at me. So of course the old Moroccan guys gestured for me to come hold the snake first. I plastered a smile on my face for the 5 seconds too long that I had to hold the snake that was 1/10 of the size we expected (thank goodness). There was confusion because at first Mohammed told me I was going to hold a fake snake, and then the men pulled out a real snake after showing me the fake snake (I have no idea why they showed me a fake snake?) which I still thought was the fake snake but when it moved around my neck I knew it wasn’t fake. ‘Ugh’ to language barriers, but definitely used to them now.
Alright SO. We walked through the poorer parts of town, and then through some parts that had so many cute hidden bed and breakfasts that I would recommend staying at if you ever plan to travel to Morocco. We were headed for camel riding, but made a pit stop at the coast to overlook…. A lighthouse if I remember correctly. I would have absorbed more knowledge of the historical site but I swear hurricane winds were occurring and I was trying to figure out how Mohammed could talk so calmly. Great tour guide skills.
After the lighthouse we stopped on the side of the road for the camel riding… they were all sitting down on the ground, probably trying to stay warm from the wind. I laughed for the whole 10 minutes of riding the camel on the beach. Camels are truly interesting animals. I did my huge 5th grade project on camels, but unsurprisingly I can’t recall much. I just know that I’ve found them intriguing my whole life. Maybe because of their extremely relaxed attitude about life, which I can relate to. They are like horses except with the personality of a dog. They give kisses. We luckily got the ‘non-biting’ camels so when they gave kisses, there were no bites. My camel got a little excited and almost took a bite instead of a kiss… but I just figured it liked me that much more.
After Camel riding we went to the Hercules Caves. We had the good luck of getting passed on to a real live caveman to give us the cave tour. He was born and raised in the caves, but when they wanted them to be used as a tourist attraction, he needed to move out. Really interesting guy. Mohammed said his eyes are ‘full of magic’ 100% of time and most of us can figure out why that is. The cave looked out to the ocean, and the outline of the cave was the shape of Africa. I’ll have to put a picture up.
We ended the tour with lunch and then a walk through the Moroccan markets. There were so many vegetable and fruit stands.. spices, teas, herbs, and legumes for sale in stands. We got to walk through a fish market that was Seattle’s Pike’s Place market x1000. We saw the head of a shark that no doubt came off the boat less than an hour before… I took a picture with a guy holding a lobster that was still alive. Okay yes we’ve all seen live lobsters… but this one was so big and so very fresh. Apparently if we had walked through without Mohammed, they would have thrown fish at us if we tried to take pictures. There was a meat market where we learned that Moroccans do not waste any body parts of an animal. Moroccans don’t waste anything actually.
I bought some Moroccan spices and some Moroccan teas. The girls I traveled with got henna. We said goodbye to our tour guides and relaxed until our plane ride the next day. I loved Morocco, going to go back one day..
the last evening and last morning (until the next time) with natalie. Sf, CA.
Max takes good pictures. This was in San Francisco before I went home for Christmas.
You know you’re in Europe when you start dreaming about having clothes go into an actual dryer… last night. In my dreams people. Alright so I’m going on to my fourth week today, which is pretty crazy. Time is already going too fast. This past weekend we had a holiday on Monday, for a saint I think, although I should probably check that out because apparently nowhere else in Spain had this same holiday. I have no school on Friday, so I had a four-day weekend. My original plan was just to stay in Oviedo and relax, but then at 10 pm last Thursday, I spontaneously decided to take a 10 hour bus to go to the south of Spain with a friend. The next morning. So Christina (friend who goes to Utah too, but I only just met here) and I hopped on the bus at 10 am Friday morning, switched buses in Madrid, and arrived in Granada around 10 pm that evening. We had really done no planning at all. Well I hadn’t at least. Christina had laid out the main points of attraction that we should see, but we just decided to wing the part about trying to find a hotel at 11 pm at night, and trying to find the center of the city from the bus station once we got dropped off. I must say that traveling with another person is so much better than traveling alone. Instead of thinking ‘holy moly I’m in the middle of nowhere I’m going to get mugged and taken’, you think ‘this isn’t so bad. Probably just shouldn’t tell our parents that we are walking in the middle of the night to who knows where, with huge backpacks looking like the wide-eyed Americans that we are’. SO. We walked right. And it’s not like we were in the Bronx, just in Granada. 45 minutes later we found a hotel in the center of the city. It took a couple of wrong turns up streets and a huge unnecessary hike up a mountain (just a super duper steep road that seemed like a mountain) and then boom we found a sign with a big arrow pointing to a hotel. Of course the next day we found many many many more cheaper hotels/hostels, but better planning next time.. totally.
Saturday morning we woke up and headed straight for La Alhambra, which is a huge palace/ complex in the higher part of Granada. We bypassed all the buses going up because we were very set on walking everywhere.. probably should’ve taken the bus up because that easy looking inch on our map was definitely a straight incline up to the palace. The hike up was gorgeous, I would suggest that to anyone who goes to Granada, and to start early so you can beat all of those busloads of people heading up to see it. We walked up at sunrise, so by the time we made it to the highest point, the view was amazing. Staggered rooftops below us were lighting up with the sun and the snow-covered mountains in the background made for a pretty nice picture to wake up to. Purple sky too, which is my favorite kind of sky.
La Alhambra is something that you all will need to experience. It’s hard to explain in words the feeling you get as you start walking through the large estate, which has a big palace/large gardens/cathedral/castle and the best view of Granada… We went into the palace first which was my favorite. Everything made back then was so intricately designed and crafted… what I will remember most are the painted tiles on almost all of the walls through the palace, and the carvings made from plaster on the walls. I would walk through the hallways and hidden corridors and try to picture the history of the place.. who walked the halls, what they would wear, what they would say…
We killed about 4 hours there, and about 5,000 calories so far in the day so for lunch we found a cute café and ordered a plate of chicken for two. Thinking back I’m almost 100% we ate a whole chicken. Enjoyed a glass of vino blanca to go with the chicken, and then headed onto the cathedrals and walking through the lovely streets of Granada. The city has tons of small roads leading up through the buildings and houses. I think the roads add a lot to the city. They’re made of cobblestone/small pebbles cemented together (that’s my best description… just picture millions of small oval pebbles cemented on the street and giving you a foot massage every time you step on them). At sunset we walked all the way up to the top of the city and caught the last bit of the sun setting. It was an amazing view of the entire city, and La Alhambra lit up in the distance. We ended our night with a glass of vino tinto. Saturday was a good day.
Sunday we grabbed a bus to Cordoba, 3 hours more or less, and started seeing our second city around 11. This day we took a little more slowly than the day before, which I was happy for. We saw a couple of neat structures and buildings and were able to enjoy our second sunny day in a row. I have missed the sun, so just walking through the streets of Cordoba with the sun on my face was good enough for me. Christina and I split off for a little so she could check out some more places, while I sat in the sun and waited for Steph. Yes! I got to see Stephanie! She happened to be in Cordoba the same weekend so she came into the center of the city to see me on Sunday.. so great to see her, full of so much life of course! She is doing great. We had the biggest hug right when we saw each other, very needed I think for both of us.
Before Christina and I caught our bus back to Granada that night, we walked around this huge roman festival that happened to only be going on that day.. Tents lined the streets along the river with people selling a ton of different types of food (I tasted the best sausage of my life, dad I thought you when I tried it), crazy types of drinks, jewelry, desserts, etc. Christina and I tried vino caliente (hot wine) which I was pretty skeptical of, but oh my! Best decision I’ve ever made. Tasted like hot apple cider in wine form. Three glasses later we were off to the bus stop. Just casually taking in the nice walk home with the setting sun.. but slowly beginning to realize we were a little farther from the bus than we thought.. so yes.. the last 10 minutes of our walk were done in a full out sprint to the bus stop with people yelling at us to ‘run faster!’ and ‘Go go go!’. Literally made it to the bus with 10 seconds to spare. Red faced and sweaty. The bus driver gave us a solid laugh.
We headed back to home sweet home Oviedo on Monday. Walked home in the rain.. which was surprisingly comforting. Having a place to call home and starting to like the new weather in this city that’s an ocean and a lot of states away from my home.
Córdoba & Granada
Córdoba & Granada