This was a brilliantly planned and comfortably executed visit to a diverse and complex land. The mix of looking at things and active involvement (e.g. camels, hikes) was just right for us (in our 60's).
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Rudd: The walk in the High Atlas, passing through Berber villages and visiting a primary school. It was--OK I'll say it--inspiring to see communities of people who are independent, active in their ancient culture, living in both isolation and connection with "modern" life (e.g.: burros, satellite dishes), and who welcomed us tourists without asking us for anything. The visit to the primary school was enchanting and informative; the visit to a family that gave us tea in the afternoon gave a view of life in the Berber culture. Our group leader, a Berber himself, added to the impact of that special day with his clear and incisive mini-lectures on what we were seeing. To one who is worried about the inevitable (??) homogenization of world culture, this was a moving and inspiring look at some people who are managing just fine. Ever heard about a man who is still working in the fields, happily, at 105 years of age?
Lisa: The camel trip into the desert, especially lying in my sleeping bag on the sand under the full moon, listening to the Brahms Requiem on my ipod!
- What did you think of your group leader?
Mustapha was so good that we would seriously consider taking any other tour that he leads. This was our first Exodus trip and we really didn't know what to expect. Mustapha did an amazing job: helping the group to bond together, pacing the schedule perfectly and sensitively, and providing excellent information throughout the tour. We came home feeling that we had been shown much more of the culture than we expected. He also has a great sense of humor!
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Rudd: You are not going to be pampered on a daily basis on this trip. There are mostly wonderfully comfortable parts but some that aren't so comfortable (irregular hot water and electricity). Just keep in mind that this is an affordable trip, and being affordable inevitably means points at which you have to put up with some inconvenience now and then.
Lisa: If you go in November, as we did, be sure to bring enough warm clothes. I think that most of us optimistically packed for summer as well as for the cold, but although it was quite warm in the middle of the day, it was never really hot. Some of the hotels (Todra Gorge) and the gite were very cold indeed, and I was glad I had brought my long underwear.
I was happy that I had read some Paul Bowles novels (especially "The Spider's House") and looked at the Morocco "Culture Shock" book before coming - it made the trip even more exciting.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
This trip was a wonderful introduction to Morocco. It had a great balance between the cities - especially Meknes and Fes with their imperial heritage - and the rural areas in the south and in the High Atlas. The scenery is varied and beautiful, from snow-capped mountains to the arid plains and the desert, and the whitewashed town of Essouira, which reminded us of a town on a Greek island. It was only the second time we have traveled in Africa (the first was an independent trip to Zambia in 2005) and we were impressed with the richness of Morocco's culture and history. The chance to meet some of the (multi-lingual!) Berbers in the desert and in the High Atlas mountains deepened our understanding of the country, as well.
We wish we hadn't already done this so we could do it again.