Yes, another Morocco entry. I’m trying my best to finish all Morocco entries before the year ends and if you’re a long time reader of The Pink Tarha, you know we’re kind of horrible when it comes to travel entries because we write 3-5 entries on a series in a span of monthS and we don’t even write them one after the other. It takes us 3-5 months to finish a series! Lol. Sorry about that. But not this time; just one more entry (after this one) and I’m done with our Morocco series. Hopefully, these articles get you to pack those bags and see the world! As they say, “fill your life with adventures and have stories to tell!” Go for it!
So anyway, in this fourth entry to our Mesmerizing Morocco series, I tell you what you must do in Morocco. There are a lot but I’m just picking some from all that we did and just limiting it to five or else, I run the risk of boring you with all our stories that go on and on and on and if it’s a blog, that’s a pretty terrible way to waste your time (unless you really love reading The Pink Tarha then thank you and we love you too!). If you’re travelling the same Imperial Cities journey that we took, then you shouldn’t miss doing these:
1. Eat food that are slowly cooked in a magical pot called “tagine”.
Have you seen a tagine? If not, then where have you been all your life? Are you even in Saudi Arabia? Haha! Kidding. It’s just that I’ve always seen these earthenware conical cooking pot as small figurines in souvenir shops here in Riyadh, or even the real thing at Lulu hypermarket and other home stores in the Kingdom that’s why it’s not new to me (and probably not new to you if I jogged your memory with how they look like). However, it’s the first time I actually taste a dish that was cooked inside it in Morocco. Yes, all the heavenly, tasty flavors of Morocco are inside this one pot that’s why it’s pretty magical. Many Moroccan dishes are slow-cooked in this clay or ceramic vessel and the clayware imparts the flavors to the food. The tagine is very practical to use because it doubles as a cooking vessel and a serving dish too.
When I first saw the dishes from the tagines, I thought I won’t like any. In my mind, they will probably taste the same as Arabic food. I’m not sure where that notion came from but remember that this is the woman who first thought Morocco was a part of the GCC ehhhh?! Haha! Anyway, we first had our delicious tagine food at the fancy restaurant in Meknes. We’re not sure if we’re just hungry (after that walk in Volubilis under the hot, merciless sun) but we definitely liked the chicken, beef, and lamb tagine that was served to us. I fancied the chicken dish with lemon and olives so much that it’s the only thing I kept on ordering after that. The meat was tender and infused with a sweet, savory taste that I couldn’t get enough of.
Special mention to the sweet fruits of Morocco. We couldn’t get enough of their melons, watermelons, and grapes! I’m not a healthy eater (seldom eating fruits and veggies, do not be like me haha) but I pass on the sweet pastries and cookies for dessert because I just loved munching on the fruits. They were crunchy and very refreshing!
TIP: While tajines are nice, don’t limit yourself to them. You can find other traditional Moroccan cuisines (some cooked with a twist) in a lot of restaurants and cafes. We stumbled upon the Henna Art Cafe in Marrakech and we love how quaint and indie-looking it is. They have artworks in the ground floor and a small dining place in their terrace. We loved their bread and tried their chicken wrap, egg omelette with preserved lamb, and felafel (see featured photo).
2. Drink Moroccan mint tea.
I am not a tea drinker and I doubt if I’ll be any time soon but in Morocco, I found myself liking their mint tea. I know why and it was a no-brainer… it was sweet and minty and hot. Perfect combination if you ask me. The mint that they used spell a difference; they use spearmint which has a clear, pungent, and mild aroma that teases the palate subtly. (Even in my gum, I prefer spearmint over peppermint… just saying, haha!) Mint tea is considered central to the social life in Morocco; there was no day we wouldn’t see someone drinking it in the medina, in the streets, in the hotels. Everyone is drinking it and it also goes that they keep on serving it to guests also. At least three small glasses (slightly bigger than a shot glass) are served and it is considered impolite to refuse it (sorry to those people who offered it to me during our trip and I said no; I honestly prefer cold drinks than hot).
The tea is prepared by boiling green tea with a lot of fresh mint leaves with sugar and water. The proportions of the ingredients and the brewing time vary. When it’s ready, the tea is poured into the glasses from high above. At first we thought it was just for the spectacle of entertaining guests and tourists but apparently, it was done to swirl the loose tea leaves to the bottom of the glass while gently aerating the tea to improve its flavor. That’s why it’s served three times because the intensity of the flavor changes per glass. The tea in the first glass is gentle, the second strong and the third, already bitter. So yes, drink a lot of Moroccan mint tea especially if you like hot drinks and you’re into tasting green tea and mint in this unique infusion.
3. Experience the best rub of your life the Moroccan hammam.
When I was reading about Moroccan public hammams before we went to our trip, my jaw fell. They actually take a bath in the nude, like together! Of course men and women have separated areas but the notion of being nude in front of my friends and possibly other people in the room is making me shudder. I’m still shy about this things and I salute the Moroccans for setting their inhibitions aside; everything is very social and wholesome! I have body issues (and a whole lot of nerves) and while I wanted to experience a public hammam (which is fine and dandy really, if you’re up for it), my friends and I opted to have our hammam bath in our kasbah (hotel/resort) in Marrakesh. It was our last day of our tour and we have half a day of free time. We signed up for a hammam package in Zalagh Kasbah Resort and Spa which cost my friends 600 dirhams each and me? Zero, because my packages is their birthday treat for me! Hooray for really thoughtful friends!
Our package is called Oriental Treat” and it was for one and a half hours. It includes the hammam with sea salt scrub, a 30-minute massage, and a facial. The friends and I were laughing hard; there is a good chance that we will see each other’s naked bodies in their full glory and seriously, what is a better test of friendship?! LOL, kidding. So we were given robes in the changing rooms and were asked to strip naked. Because we were three ladies in line, Reina was taken to the massage room first while I was led to the hammam area. Jamila was asked to wait a bit. I entered this room that was heated like a sauna. It has a fountain with water gushing forth like there was no tomorrow and pails waiting to be filled. Before going in, I removed the robe and I felt super awkward so the lady attendant asked me if I wanted a disposable underwear and I said yes only to find out that wearing it doesn’t matter. It was so small and sheer might as well go naked all the way! Haha!
She asked me to lie in the mat in one of the concrete benches. It was HOT! Thank goodness for the mat. She then started pouring water all over my body. Okay, not poured, she sloshed it to me (like throwing out buckets of water at me again and again haha). Then she put on some black soap (a body shower gel that I will discuss on the next entry) and asked me to just lie there for a while. After a few minutes, she came back for the exfoliation part and I got the shock of my life, haha! The attendant was a medium-built girl but she has the strength of a carabao! She’s so strong that she rubbed me hard and good! It was like being rubbed with sandpaper that I wanted to shout and excuse myself first to check if it wasn’t my skin she was trying to remove haha! She showed me all the dead skin she was stripping from my skin and I was horrified! I seriously questioned myself if my daily baths are even worth it. Totally got the “exfoliation” process wrong. Haha! It was as if I had another layer of skin composed of dirt and grime. Ang dumi dumi ko mga bes! Hahaha! That lady scrubbed every inch of my body and she did not stop until my flesh was red and raw. But you know what, that was perfectly okay. No wounds or scratches whatsoever. Amazeballs! She knew what she was doing and I was really in good hands. No judgment, no complaints; she was just doing her job. She also washed my hair and rinsed me off completely. When I was about to be finished, Jamila walked in and we were like completely naked just staring at each other first. But then we realized we have both blurry eyes so technically, we didn’t see anything incriminating. Hahahaha! This is one experience to remember!
The massage and facial were also both great but we were in a hurry because our bus was leaving for Casablanca in an hour and we have yet to pack. So the massage and facial were a blur, but we know the package was worth its price. As Reina put it, just by looking at our naked bodies, we ought to pay the attendants already because no one should be put to so much eye sore. LOL! Just kidding! We enjoyed our Moroccan hammam experience and I kind of felt bad that I didn’t try the Turkish hammam when we were there last year. Oh well.
4. Unwind with the entertainers of Morocco.
No, it’s probably not the kind of “night out” you’re thinking. When you’re in the older cities like Meknes and Fes, a night out simply means going to a traditional riad that was turned into an entertainment hub where musicians, magicians, and belly dancers perform. It was our last night in Fes when our tour guide escorted us to the outskirts of the medina into a narrow alley and into a small building that has its interiors covered in mosaics. In the center are round tables and chairs already filled with people, mostly tourists. In the stage are musicians with their instruments dancing and playing. They were mostly old men but boy can they bend their bodies like they were not past their prime. Impressive skills! We were served with Moroccan tea and Moroccan sweets but we were mostly full from our dinner in the hotel.
After the musicians came a dancer; she was a woman in her 40s and she was graceful and energetic. She chose people from the crowd to dance with her on stage. She taught them the moves first before they all dance together. Reina was one of the lucky few, haha, that she invited to the stage and off she went. There were other ladies in the stage and they learned a few moves before dancing together. A few of the guys were shy but most of them were game so it was a laughter-filled presentation. Up next was a magician who had old tricks but still entertaining.
Then came a belly dancer (whatever image you have of belly dancers are probably different from reality). She was graceful too and she asked men to dance with her onstage. A younger belly dancer came next and she used a long stick to perform. They were just okay. The finale was a feature on how a wedding dance goes in Morocco. They dressed up members of the audience as brides and they asked them to step into a round tub (that looks like a huge batya in the Philippines) and then three women would carry the tub with the woman inside on their shoulders and they will turn round and round. Each lady had their turn. It was an interesting display of traditional music and dance.
5. Have a photo shoot.
Morocco is such a beautiful country that it’s your loss if you just take touristy shoots (you know standing in front of a building or something) and not take the opportunity to have a mini photo shoot for yourself and your friends. I always tell my friends whenever we travel that we should also prepare practical yet nice, coordinated clothes for the journey (and the photos). Yes, the trip is all for the experiences and sights but what’s wrong in making the most of it by taking photos like you’re some model out to conquer the world (even if we’re not). So, yes, wear something beautiful, mix and match your clothes and accessories and shoes, and get that gorgeous photographs in a new place/country that you’ll probably not re-visiting soon. It’s all about the memories too!
For this Morocco trip, I told my friends I’ll be bringing skirts in vibrant colors because I envision Morocco to be such a colorful country. But plans changed and I found myself packing mostly monochrome cotton clothes. I had dresses and skirts too which are easily folded and comfortable to walk in. I only brought one pair of shoes that go well with all of my outfits and yes, I listed down my outfits for the day so I don’t waste my time deciding there. All in all, I think we did great and we have photos that we can share and cherish for a lifetime, with the beauty of Morocco as our backdrop. Priceless.
For my last entry on Morocco, I’ll let you know what we brought home as souvenirs and gifts for our families and friends.
Read all of our Morocco entries here:
Planning For Morocco
Mesmerizing Morocco: Five Cities 1/2
Mesmerizing Morocco: Five Cities 2/2
Mesmerizing Morocco: Top 5 Unforgettable Experiences
Mesmerizing Morocco: Top 5 Must-Dos
Mesmerizing Morocco: Top 5 Souvenirs