Destination #1: Morocco
Located on the Northern tip of Africa, Morocco was the first destination to launch Passport500 – a subscription box dedicated to meeting 500 women around the world and sharing five hand-selected items from a particular country every quarter. Our time in Morocco truly encompassed adventure, culture, history, and wilderness. Morocco is a diverse country filled with majestic palaces, interesting museums, mouth-watering cuisine, and large expanses of stunning natural landscapes.
Why We Chose Morocco
The vibrant Marrakesh Markets, or Souks, are famous for their wide assortment of goods for sale. In these markets, you can find anything from food to home decor and from jewelry to clothing. Many markets run together at the Medina, or the old/historic part of town. I couldn’t wait to walk around the different corridors and hand-select items that represented this beautiful country. I also wanted to visit a county that was rich with culture and history that would raise people’s curiosity as I set out on this new business venture.
The Lay of the Land
Morocco is located in the extreme northwest of Africa and borders the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Atlantic Ocean to the west. Much of Morocco’s landscape is mountainous – The Atlas mountains dominate the central part of the country, while the Rif mountains make up the northern edge.
A few things about Morocco’s geography that absolutely amazed me: The Atlas Mountains located just two hours away from Marrakech, the pristine coastline from Rabat to Casablanca, and you can even see both the African and European continent at the same time.
Each city throughout Morocco has palaces, churches, mosques, and museums that provide a glimpse into Morocco’s history. Riads are traditional houses or palaces that have interior gardens. Today, many riads have been turned into hotels. Even if you have accommodations, make a point to take a look at some of the grander riads, which have splendid architecture.
Every spot we visited was rich with design and color. You could spend hours just staring that the elegant prints and designs that decorated the walls and ceilings. If it wasn’t for our local tour guide we might have gotten lost…a couple of times!
The Culture / The History
Without getting into the fine details of Morocco’s history, this country is the center of multiculturalism encompassing influences from the Berbers, the Roman Empire, and French and Spanish Settlers – each leaving their mark on the county. As you travel throughout Morocco, you will see the various influences coming together in a beautiful array of art, architecture, culture, and history.
Most everyone in Morocco speaks 3 languages; Arabic, French, and English. The Berbers, a tribe of indigenous people of Morocco, still have some tribal groups living in the Atlas Mountains. The Berber style is still incorporated into textiles and jewelry designs. Argan nuts are not just harvested for the oil which is not just for cosmetic use.
Souks and markets are a major feature in Moroccan life, and among the country’s greatest attractions for Moroccan travelers. Each town has its special souk quarter, large cities like Fes and Marrakech have labyrinths of individual souks (each filling a street or square and devoted tone particular craft), and in the countryside there are hundreds of weekly souks, on a different day in each village of the region.
Whether or not you are a big shopper, going to a Souk is a cultural experience that should not be missed on a trip to Morocco. Find the Medina, the central and oldest part of the city, and your journey has almost begun. If you feel slightly overwhelmed when you enter a lively area filled with artisan shops, aromatic bakeries, and excited shopkeepers eagerly awaiting to meet you, you have found the souk.
Bargaining with the shop owner or artisan is both expected and accepted in Morocco. Keep things light-hearted and friendly while negotiating and, if you can’t settle on a price, it’s OK to walk away. However, don’t agree on a price and then not go through with the sale.
Overall, experiencing the Marrakesh Souks was a cultural experience everyone should indulge in if they get the opportunity!
Morocco is rich with smells of herbs and spices everywhere you go. Stews and couscous (originally a Maghrebi dish of small steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina) are common meals we were served during our time in Morocco. These meals are often paired with locally raised fish, chicken, or lamb. Before the main course is served, it is a tradition to eat olives and fresh baked bread. We also enjoyed mint tea with every meal served on the lovely trays similar to the ones included in your Moroccan box.
The photograph above shows a traditional Moroccoan salad. Below we have included a recipe of Moroccoan carrot salad in vinaigrette for you to enjoy! (Compliments of www.thespruceeats.com)
- 1 lb. whole carrots (not baby carrots)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or more, up to 1/2 teaspoon, if you prefer)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint (chopped)
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
- Peel the carrots and trim off the green tops.
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey, ground cumin, ground ginger, ground coriander and ground cinnamon. Add the peeled carrots and toss to coat.
- Place the carrots on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and a light golden brown.
- Serve the warm carrots on a platter and top with the crumbled feta cheese and chopped fresh mint.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our adventure in Morocco! We can’t wait to share our travel experiences with you, after all, we are on this journey together!