Updated: 1/19/20 | January 19th, 2020

Have you ever loved a destination but couldn’t figure out why – or even a way – to express your feelings? That’s my dilemma with Morocco.

In August, I went on a tour with Intrepid Travel and crossed off a country that has long been on my bucket list. I rode a camel, drank all the mint tea I could find, got lost in medinas, and ate more couscous than I thought was humanly possible.

I loved the etrip. Our guide Rashid was friendly, took us out to smoke shisha, introduced us to the locals, and was generally very helpful. I made friends with my tour mates and got along with my roommate (which, on a tour, is a huge blessing).

Morocco itself blew my mind. I loved walking down the street and being barraged by the smell of 1,000 different spices, getting lost in the maze-like medinas with their endless nooks and crannies, the chaos of millions of people shuffling about with vendors vying for your attention, and the crimson red of the Sahara with its endless rolling dunes were all I wanted them to be.

Sure, there were many overwhelming moments when I felt like a fish out of water and things didn’t go my way. But I relish those moments because it’s when you are pushed out of your comfort zone that you grow.

Travel is about feeling uncomfortable.

Morocco was everything I wanted it to be. It lived up to all my expectations, but for some reason, my experience has been hard to verbalize. Why can’t I express how I feel about Morocco? It’s been bothering me for months.

I’ve racked my brain thinking about it, pondered it on trains, and stared at a blinking cursor while trying to write about it.

Then, suddenly a few weeks ago, the reason hit me.

One constant in my travels — and I’m sure many of you might feel the same — is that of a touchstone, one defining point where the trip all comes together and acts as a prism for everything the journey represented.

On my trip to Japan, it was befriending a local who wanted to learn English.

In Costa Rica, it was getting lost in a jungle.

In Ukraine, it was drinking vodka with locals who knew less English than I knew Russian (and I only know “cheers” and “hello”).

On my first visit to Thailand, it was meeting those five people who changed my life.

In Ios, it was being taken to a local community festival by my hostel owner.

Most trips revolve around one memory that crystalizes the trip and puts everything into focus. Each of the moments ties together all my other memories of a place: the food, the smells, the sights, the people. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the place.

Despite the wonderful times I had and the amazing itinerary Intrepid put together, I’ve realized the reason I’m so ambivalent about Morocco is because I lack that touchstone. There’s no “whoa” moment I can point to where I felt ultra-connected to the country.

But, while I lack a big moment, I have thousands of little ones — staring at the a million stars in the blackness of the desert, wandering the empty ruins of Volubilis, discovering new foods with some amazing Australians on my tour, befriending the fish sellers and gorging on fresh seafood in Essaouira, getting lost in medinas, haggling over a chess set and laughing with the seller, and drinking about 1,000 pots of mint tea (OK, slight exaggeration, it was more likely 999).

Maybe you don’t need that one special moment. Maybe I’ve relied on that touchstone as a crutch for too long.

Paul Theroux once said travel is only glamorous in retrospect. I’m not sure I agree with that but what I am sure about is that, in retrospect, I’m only now truly appreciating the time I spent in Morocco and how unique it was.

Sometimes your senses get so battered it takes time for the dust to settle, the thoughts to process, and the wonderful moments to shine through.

***
Editor’s Note: I went to Morocco with Intrepid Travel on their Best of Morocco tour. It was part of my ongoing partnership with Intrepid Travel. They covered the cost of the tour, flight, and meals.

Book Your Trip to Morocco: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:

  • Riad Layla Rouge (Marrakech)
  • LHostel a Casablanca (Casablanca)
  • Dar Rabha (Fez)

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
  • Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

Want More Information on Morocco?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Morocco for even more tips on how to plan your visit!

Africa
26.10.2015 / intrepid / morocco
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