Morocco is a land of color and anomaly. It boasts an ancient history spanning millennia which saw Roman rule, Vandal settlement, a blanketing of Islamic culture and, in our era, French refinement.
I fell in love with this North African nation when my husband took me there on our third date. I had a magical adventure and knew I had to share its mysteries with the travelers in my life. The legendary square Jemaa el Fna in the medina of Marrakech is a trip back in time. Way back. I didn't really understand how far back until we were deep in the labyrinthine streets and an electrical surge caused a black out in the entire medina. As candles flickered alive, we were transported back a thousand years, to a time long before black outs, to an imperial city in its medieval glory. We groped our way past traders from Timbuktu and Spain, past a Berber carpet dealer and a small man selling human teeth. Stumbling towards the vast open space of the square where men and women roast food stuffs on open fires blazing in the center, while on the perimeter, small crowds gather around spinning Dervishes, dancing cobras and shaman Healers. The heady mix of sideshows, flame, smells and color is enough to confirm you are far from home, but candlelight illumination took us to another millennia.
Traditional "riads" are found in the medina, typically with latticed balconies overlooking a central courtyard, often graced with a fountain, pool or fragrant garden. The pedestrian only medina deep back in time, but with running water and wifi.
Our group wanted an adventure culture tour of Morocco, so we covered a fair amount of the country, to taste of the diversity on offer. Over the course of ten days, everybody got to do what he or she had in mind. Shopping in exotic markets: definitely. Luxurious Turkish bath and massage: with pleasure. Camel rides on drifting sand dunes: absolutely. Ancient kasbah exploration: done. Dozing in the shade by the private pool: most likely.
In the end, every one got what they came for and so much more.