If you're a regular reader of the Brandywine Community News, you're likely well-versed about Robert Weiner's work as a New Castle County Councilman. Last month, Weiner took some time off and traveled with his wife, Cindy, to Morocco, where his daughter Rachel is serving in the Peace Corps. Below are excerpts from an extensive travel blog kept by Weiner about the trip in the first of a two-part series.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
We arose at 7:30 a.m. to catch the “Marrakech Express." The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young melody kept playing in my mind...The last stop was Marrakech and now we were anticipating with great excitement our meeting with Rachel...All the stress of being on our own, getting lost or otherwise being accosted, melted away as we were now under the wing of our beloved protector and tour guide. With no time to lose, Rachel lead us outside, where we witnessed the first of her many taxi price negotiations. This is quite an art and we were in awe of her skills...We were famished and so Rachel lead us through what appeared to us to be a maze of narrow passageways to a nondescript small door. Rachel beckoned us to enter yet another narrow hallway which opened to a quaint collection of sitting rooms. This, we were told, was the Earth Café. To Rachel’s best knowledge, this is the only vegan/vegetarian restaurant in Kech. We were invited to select a room in which to dine. As we walked up a narrow flight of stairs, I lost my balance and accidentally kicked over and broke a clay vase. I felt like the proverbial “bull in a china shop." Rachel decided we should retreat down the staircase and sit in another small room which had just one table.
to attract tourists
“Morocco is a tree, the roots of which are planted firmly in Africa but has its branches in Europe,” according the late King Hassan II.
According to the Moroccan Embassay, the northern African kingdom as a rich culture gained from the various civilizations it encountered throughout its history, including the Roman, Byzantine, Arabic, Spanish and French. From beautiful coastlines, to stunning Saharan vistas to authentic medieval cities, the country has experiences for every tourist.
The kingdom, a constitutional monarchy, hopes to capitalize on those resources by attracting 10 million visitors in 2010.
Travel to Morocco is easy for American travelers, who only need a passport, although the U.S. government recommends registering with the State Dept. for the most up-to-date travel information. Several airlines offer non-stop flights from both Philadelphia and New York to Rabat, the country’s capital.
Summers can be hot and winters cold. Travel to the country should be timed based on what you want to see. Plan on May to October for the beaches, November to April for the desert, April to October for the Atlas mountains and March to June and September to November for the cities.
Page 2 of 2 - Sunday, 15 November 2009
At noon we took a taxi out of the old walled section of the city to “Majorelle Gardens,” home of the late fashion designer Yves St. Laurent. The gardens and grounds were beautifully laid out in a well-designed but peaceful setting. Then we walked to “Artisana,” a government-overseen collective of artisan cooperatives. We purchased “oiseau” a brass bird for Cindy’s mother...We dined with two of Rachel’s star students and best friends from Tinzouline, who are now living in Marrakech attending university...They professed their love and admiration for Rachel, whom they consider to be their sister. We learned new Arabic words and letters. Since we were deemed to be their progressive American parents, we were permitted to view a cell phone video taken by Najwa of Meriem belly dancing in classic garb. We were informed their real parents would never view this video.
Monday, 16 November 2009 - Wednesday, 18 November 2009
We travel by bus to Essaouira, a delightful Atlantic Ocean resort, reminiscent of Marrakech decades ago, before being over-run by hippies and tourists. We noticed how much cleaner the streets appeared than in Casa. Tourists mixed with locals in a much more casual and laid back environment along the main pedestrian way, lined with the ancient city wall and old and new buildings...Our hotel has a roof top balcony which we visited; taking in the seascape and city views. We then began our exploration of seaside Essaouira. The mellow atmosphere, narrow winding streets lined with colorful shops, white-washed houses and heavy wooden doors make it a wonderful place to stroll...The evening featured dinner at Le Mechouar Hotel Restaurant, a Moroccan restaurant which was great fun. We sat next to six young co-workers from France who were on holiday, who shared their experiences with us. The Berber band was a trio consisting of a three-string guitarist, a small cymbal performer who wore his instruments on both hands [who also was the lead singer] and a drummer. I danced with other patrons and then sang with the band [and] then taught a modern Moroccan young woman from Marrakech to Cha-Cha, Disco and Jitterbug to the traditional music...Wednesday morning, the featured event was our Moroccan cooking class. We learned how to prepare a Zaalouk and a Lamb Tajine with almonds and dates.
NEXT WEEK: The Weiner’s travel to Tinzouline, where Rachel volunteers with the Peace Corps.
Edited by Jesse Chadderdon