25 Oct Rockin’ out in Morocco!
Last month I decided to treat myself to a vacation, destination Morocco. I say vacation, but considering I woke up almost every morning at 5 a.m. to start my journey to another city in the country, I don’t think I did much vacationing. However, I had a jolly good time!
I made the trip with arguably the best traveling companion, Zainob Fashola (@Zeegoes), and she made my journey an absolute treat. While I’d love to tell you about how beautiful the country is, as well as its sights and sounds, she does it much better, so check out her blog.
And now, without further ado, I bring you the first of my #TravelingWhileFit series (yes, I just made that up).
The Hills are alive
One thing you’ll notice about Morocco is that it’s a very mountainous area. And what do we do with mountains? We climb them! And that’s exactly what I did! On my second day in Morocco, I went hiking in the mountains of Akchour with the goal of reaching its famous waterfall. It’s about a six-hour hike if you’re going at a moderate pace, so make sure you’ve got some water and food with you in case you need to rest and replenish. There are lots of rest stops along the way where you can grab some food and drink, so don’t fret if you didn’t bring any supplies yourself.
Fun fact: through an intricate pipeline system, the residents of the mountainside use water from the waterfall to cool their drinks. An all-natural refrigerator that runs through the entire mountainside. I thought that was pretty neat.
The hike itself is pretty straightforward. A few inclines, followed by a few declines. Rinse and repeat. A pretty clear path, and no otherworldly obstacles to surmount. Just mind your step because you tend to lose your grip in certain areas where the ground is less firm.
When you finally get to the waterfall, if you’re still feeling frisky and loyal to the fitfam movement, you can go for a swim in the water to burn off whatever calories you have left. Mind you, the water is Icy cold. Remember how I said the mountain residents used the water to keep drinks cold? Yeah, YOU WILL FREEZE! Enter at your own peril.
If you’re as much a fan of climbing things as I am, then whenever you make it to the Sahara desert (a short 10-hour drive from Marrakesh), find the biggest sand dune around and climb it. The sand brings a particular challenge for larger people, as the heavier you are, the faster the sand crumbles around you, dragging you back down the dune and making for an arduous, frustrating climb. After climbing for 10 minutes at the steepest point of the dune, I think I moved a total of 5 inches. Eventually, however, I prevailed.
Hightailing it through mountains and deserts isn’t for everyone, and that’s where the city of Marrakech comes in. It’s basically Lagos. A lot more urban sights and sounds, for the less adventurous folks amongst us. While I was in Marrakech, I stayed in the Mogador Palace Agdal hotel. If you like to swim, this is the place for you. The hotel has two MASSIVE swimming pools. Heck, the first thing you see when you google the Hotel is the pool. The hotel also has a good gym, as well as a spa if you’re looking for a little pampering.
Tajine. Tajine. Tajine. If you’re looking to eat in Morocco, there is no way you’ll go a day without hearing the word Tajine. What is a Tajine, you might ask? A tajine or tagine (Arabic: الطاجين) is a “Maghrebi dish which is named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked”. Moroccan Tajine dishes are “slow-cooked savory stews, typically made with sliced meat, poultry or fish together with vegetables or fruit.” (Thanks Wikipedia!).
So yes, that’s what a tajine is. AND IT IS EVERYWHERE! Tajine and couscous, beef tajine, chicken tajine, vegetable tajine. Heck, I’m sure they have a breakfast tajine out there somewhere. If I never see another tajine it’ll be too soon.
Banter aside, tajine dishes are pretty healthy, from what I observed. Can’t go wrong with lots of vegetables and protein. As for taste, it depends on where you go. One particular restaurant in Marrakech stands out – Ksar Essaousan. Best Tajine I had, hands down. I also tried the Pastilla aux Pigeons et Amandes, which is basically a pigeon pie with almonds, covered in cinnamon and sugar, and it was absolutely delicious. Definitely take the time to try different restaurants while you’re in Morocco. Some of them, like Lala Mesouda are true gems, serving everything from animal brains and hearts (yes, brains and hearts) to oxtail, ox tongue and ox penis (yes, ox penis).
Zainob made a pretty awesome video of some of the food we tried. Check it out here!
I had an amazing time in Morocco, and while I definitely came back more exhausted than I left, it was totally worth it. And yes, I’d do it all again!