Morocco – Jaci R.
Hi. If you're reading this, that means you're thinking about pulling the trigger on a Damesly trip to Morocco. Do yourself a favor: DO. IT. I had always been thinking about visiting Morocco, because after seeing photos of it, how can you not? I found out about the Damesly trip early this year and decided to book it as a present for myself after getting a new job. I had a few misgivings — typically I like to be in charge of my travel itinerary and I wasn't sure about traveling with a group of people I didn't know. Let me tell you — it was absolutely fking incredible. I blew in late on the day of arrival and met everyone for dinner for some of the most incredible tagine I've ever experienced. We all did the whole get-to-know-you chat thing, and everyone was so friendly and so chill, with a down to earth sense of humor.. It immediately put me at ease. It was a really small group [just four of us, plus Kelly] which I really liked, because we were a cohesive unit for the entirety of the trip. There was a lot of time spent in the [very comfortable, air-conditioned, and water-stocked] van with our driver and guide, but we passed the time easily by talking about random stuff, dozing, or watching the landscape change. That was one of my favorite things about the trip — it had far surpassed my expectations of being flat and brown — there were some serious mountain ranges, rolling hills that almost looked like the Italian countryside, farms, and stunning gorges. We spent a fair amount of time in cities [Marrakech! Fes! Chefchaouen!] and some spectacular time in the desert. For me, the highlights were equally split between: a] the time in Erg Chebbi, trekking over the red sand dunes by camel. You do so around sunset, so the colors are vibrant and golden and otherworldly. The camp was utterly gorgeous — individual tents with bathrooms! and showers! and beds! and everything was decorated with moroccan lamps and candles and carpets. It honestly looked like one of those insane images you see on instagram where you're like 'of course it'll never be that cool in real life' but it ACTUALLY IS. 2] Fes. We had an incredible guide, a local woman, who was like the mayor of the medina because everywhere we wandered in those alleyways, people would greet her and shake her hand. She brought us on a tour of a lot of the different artisan shops and we got to see how leather was made, how textiles were woven, and how ceramics were painted and glazed. And yes, we all bought a TON of stuff. Carpets? Yes. Lanterns? Also yes. Blankets made of agave silk which are shiny and luxurious? Definitely yes. Did we haggle and get really good prices on everything? With help, but most assuredly yes. d] Chefchaouen. The blue city is like the Instagram capital of the country, and while kind of overrun with tourists, it's a ridiculously photogenic place. Every corner you turn is more beautiful than the last. Pro tip: wake up mad early [like sunrise early] and get out there to photograph yourself and all the doorways and all the kittens before it gets too crowded. Other random highlights: visiting a traditional hammam and being scrubbed within an inch of your life by a very enthusiastic woman, and coming out feeling shiny and clean with a new lease on life. Monkeys in a cedar forest. Learning pieces of history and trivia by local guides on tours. The doorknockers, everywhere. The riads with fountains and giant plants in the center lobby. The tilework. Visiting and patronizing women-owned and operated businesses. Berber pizza. Dipping your toes into the finest, softest sand in the Sahara. Learning how to tie a headscarf in the traditional Touareg style. Getting to know four new friends and joking about everything [and I -do- mean everything]. Lastly, KELLY. Who is amazing. Her spirit and energy are boundless, and she knows how to take the best photos, and the best group selfies. So, if you've read this far I can only hope you've been convinced that this is the trip of a lifetime, because it is. GO TO MOROCCO WITH DAMESLY.