Never before had I thought about such a trip, when my friends asked me if I would like to visit Northern Africa. Just this idea made me so excited. On October 1st last year, we flew to the far continent – the southern shore of the Mediterranean.
We took a 12-day trip in Tunisia and Morocco. We collected many stories and photos that I want to share in a series of blogs with fellow Alumni. The first edition today is the Morocco highlight.
Across the Atlas Mountains, we drove from Rabat straight to Marrakech, the third largest city of The Kingdom of Morocco, and the UNESCO World Non-Physical Heritage. It is said “You must go to Marrakech if you visit Morocco, and you must experience the Place Djemaa el Fna if you are in Marrakech”. Yes, in the largest Medina Square in Africa, we were amazed by the India snake charmers, the fire breathers, the Arabic music and juggling, monkey show, snacks and food with smoke rising, handcrafts, traditional dress and various local commodities……Djemaa el Fna is truly noisy, crowded, lively, and fantastic.
Not far from Marrakech, the well known Ait Ben Haddou-Ouarzazate attracts a lot of overseas tourists. Many famous movies were made here, — the < Ben-Hur >, < Gladiator >, < Cleopatra >, < Lawrence of Arabia>……But you cannot just regard this place as a location for movie productions. This huge heritage site was built along the laterite mountains, it is so magnificent from afar, seen under blue skies and white clouds, that I believe all the visitors were thoroughly shocked. Walking around inside and climbing up, we felt the other side of this great ancient architecture.
It is no doubt that the city of Fez is the most classic for our Morocco travel. When you walk into the Median of Fez, it’s as if time goes back hundreds of years: ancient scented air, thousands of narrow alleys where you may get lost quickly without a local guide, little donkeys laden with heavy goods pass by, numerous dye vats with ancient handmade leather workshops, the first college of the world…… Fez has 2800 years history with strong Arabic traditions, it is the land of Morocco’s national spirit. When I passed by a street which was relatively wide, some children were playing football with AC Milan t-shirts, one boy asked me where I came from, I said China, then he yelled “China! Jackie Chan”! And made a posture of Chinese Kungfu, all the others laughed……
One movie can make a prosperous city, Casablanca is the most famous one. Today’s Rick’s Cafe was re-built in 2004 by an American retired diplomat to fully imitated the movie < Casablanca >. Now, thousands of visitors from the world come to Casablanca every year to reminisce on the romance of the 1940’s as the movie plays. When we were there, what made us quite surprised was that the movie < Casablanca > was made totally in Hollywood! The crew never even came to Casablanca! But it doesn’t matter at all, Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, along with the well known theme song < As Time Goes By > together, made “Casablanca” a mark of true love.
Casablanca is now the largest city of Morocco. Standing by the Atlantic, the Hassan II Mosqe is a legend of modern religious architecture. One of my photos here shows its grandeur and magnificence.
Several days are not enough to get to know a strange and mysterious country, and one blog is not enough to describe Morocco’s culture, tradition, and people……I would say, do any Alumni or students of Les Roches from Morocco wish to tell us more? And I look forward to being back in this mystery country!