We continue on our journey with part 2…Morocco.
Yes, Morocco. We wanted to go somewhere different than anywhere we’d been before & boy, did Morocco deliver. Lindsey was actually supposed to go in 2020 with another friend of ours but the week they started traveling is when the borders shut down so they weren’t able to make it.
We started planning this trip a few months ago & despite Emma needing oral surgery, Kilo (Lindsey’s dog) needing surgery on his leg, & me attempting to plan & pay for a wedding…we made it happen. Travel is pretty vital for both of us, we just needed a few months to save. It felt like everyone we knew was scattered around between Italy, London, & Greece while we hadn’t been anywhere yet this year but we knew our trip was coming & it was going to be fucking fabulous.
So we left off in Paris. We had made it back to our hotel at about 2 AM & went to bed with an 8:30 AM alarm. 8:30 rolled around & as my alarm went off Lindsey muttered out “set it for 9:30”. 9:30 rolled around & I turned my alarm off & Lindsey said “I’ll set one for 11”. Funny how when you’re tired snoozing your alarm sounds like a great idea! Once 11 AM rolled around, we HAD to get up! Our flight was at 2:30 PM, we wanted to be at the airport at noon, & it took 58 minutes by train to get to Charles De Gualle airport from our hotel & we were just crawling our asses out of bed at 11. This should be fun.
But we made it.
By the skin of our teeth, we made it.
We bought the wrong kind of train ticket (my fault, so when the conductors came ‘round to scan our tickets I paid the price for that…a common occurrence with me) & as soon as we got to the airport we hit the kiosks for a “security pass” (because we fly standby & don’t have seats until the gate agents give us one, we still need something like a boarding pass to get us through security). We jumped in the passport control line & had 2 small men stop us & tell us that our bags were too big & we need to check them. One of my favorite things about being a flight attendant is that we are usually exempt from that but okay then…back to the ticket counter we go! We ran back to the ticket counter & I get in the baggage line while Lindsey goes to the nearest kiosk to print us off some bag tags. The line is moving quicker than we thought & next thing you know, I’m first in line & the baggage attendant makes me step aside because my bags don’t have any tags on them. I’m pointing to Lindsey at the kiosk & telling the attendant “My friend is RIGHT there! She’ll be here SO SOON!” so she just let me step out of the line & luckily, did not make me go to the back. We eventually make it up to the ticket counter & we learn we cannot check our bags because they just closed our flight. We have about 40-45 minutes at this point & our flight should be boarding by now, when Lindsey spots a man who turns out to be a gate agent. We’re in the mix of this big group of people who are just standing around, totally clueless so she (Lindsey) just skims right past them & up to the man who gladly checks our bags & sends us on our way.
Okay then! We’re back in the game…kinda. We get back in the passport control line & I evil-eye the 2 little men who sent us back to check our bags & reset our progress. The line is moving at a snail’s pace & we still have to pass through regular security & we are quickly losing time… AGAIN. I have my employee badge on -even though being international & the fact that I work for a domestic airline, that badge does absolutely nothing for me over there- & Lindsey tells me I should chat up one of the employees & use my southern accent to see if maaaaybe they’d be so kind to let us pass through a little quicker. She says everyone loves a southern accent. I wasn’t sure that applied to the French as I’m not sure they like much of anything but…she was right!
We had them stamp our passports & we were onto the next part – regular security. We had to take a train to the L gates from where we were (K gates) & get in our line there. The good thing was our line was super short – there was maybe 6 people in front of us but we were down to about 15 minutes before our plane was leaving. The 6 people in front of us had zero sense of urgency & we were just standing behind these slow pokes who were casually taking off their belts and shoes & unpacking their electronics from their carry ons as we were begging them watching our day’s plans slip away from us. When we finally were able to throw our stuff on the belt to pass through the scanner Lindsey told me “Since you’re first, you go onto the gate & tell them we’re here! I’ll stay with our stuff & run behind you!”
As soon as I passed through the body scanner, I fucking BOOKED IT. Ya’ll wanna see this big bitch run? Tell me I’m not gonna make my flight. Suddenly I’m Usain Bolt. I started off power walking but the thing you need to realize about CDG airport is it’s part luxury mall – you pass by Hermes, Chanel, Prada, Dior, Gucci, Cartier, etc before you even see a gate! THIS IS NOT NECESSARY AT AN AIRPORT! When I realized that I was nowhere near our gate I took off into a sprint! Finally I saw it…gate L23. I ran up to the agents, completely out of breath & blurted out “MY FRIEND AND I ARE FLYING STANDBY TO MARRAKECH!!” to the first agent I saw & she looked at me and said “…okay well we will need to see your travel documents as well as your Covid documents” to which I blurt out “MY FRIEND HAS THEM SHE IS STILL IN SECURITY WITH ALL OF OUR STUFF! I RAN AHEAD!! MAY I JUST SEE WHERE WE ARE ON THE STANDBY LIST?!”
This woman probably thought I was a total maniac. She did not let me speak with the working gate agent so I stood in front of the gate, pacing around, & craning my neck to see if I could see Lindsey coming down the hallway. The agent I probably scared came over to me & asked if I could see my friend yet & at this point I’m on the verge of tears. We just went through SO much to make it to the gate, the door is still open, & the plane is still here. We have GOT to make our flight! Finally, I look down the hall again and I see a yellow dress! Lindsey! – tiny, cute Lindsey – weighed down with 2 purses, a tote, a backpack, & clutching all of our passports and travel documents. The tears came. True, raw, & ridiculous overly dramatic emotion overwhelmed me.
Lindsey ran up & asked “DID WE MAKE IT?!”
“I DON’T KNOW THEY WON’T SPEAK TO ME WITHOUT OUR DOCUMENTS!” I’m managing to choke out
We run up to the agents & one of them looks at us & says “I’m sorry. All done. The flight is closed…JUST A JOKE!” Tears still flowing I tell her “It’s not a very funny joke!” & guess what? They gave us seats & sent us on our way. The flight was supposed to leave at 2:30 PM – it was now 2:35 & they still let us on. When Lindsey & I got situated in our seats, we were so giddy that we actually pulled this off! We made it! After all that! She also told me the reason she took a little while coming from security was because she’d been randomed & they swabbed her hands, patted her down, & even searched one of her bags. She was telling them “Look, I have like 4 minutes to make it to my gate!” We were elated though & couldn’t stop laughing over how our day has went.
Flight attendant life – one day you’re being served champagne & lobster in business class, the next you’re running with your whole life to your gate & crying when you’re given a seat. What can I say? The latter keeps us humble.
Paris to Marrakech was a 3 hour & 20 minute long flight – my original plan was to sleep through it but I had just experienced a whole week’s worth of emotions in ,like, an hour so I was coming down off a pretty serious adrenaline rush. During the taxi out, I quickly emailed our riad that we were going to be staying at our flight information so they could be there to pick us up & we were finally on our way.
At this point I’m going to just talk about Morocco for a minute.
*Morocco is in Africa. No one we know really knew where the hell Morocco was so we were always explaining to people where we were. Lindsey’s own boyfriend was telling her “hell yeah baby, tea & scones!” and she had to tell him “We. Are. In. Africa!” – However, they are known for their tea.
*Morocco is a Muslim country & follows Islamic laws & customs.
*Women traditionally are quite covered up. However, they are lenient with tourists although you should still be somewhat respectful.
*Alcohol is extremely rare. I think we had one drink in Marrakech and that was it.
*Don’t drink the water & be cautious about what you eat because our stomachs aren’t quite on the same level as theirs.
*Their prominent languages are French & Arabic, however, in Marrakech we never had a problem finding someone who spoke English but in Rabat & Fez, it was much more difficult.
*Their currency is called dirham. $200 USD equals out to be about $1900 Moroccan dirham.
*We stayed in what is called a “riad” – a traditional Moroccan house that operates sort of like a bed & breakfast.
*It’s hot. Extremely hot.
So, we’ve landed in Morocco & make our way through a very quick & painless customs. We get our luggage quickly & hit the currency exchange for dirham. We follow the riad manager’s instructions to where we can find our driver waiting for us. The heat is pretty serious outside & I’m trying to be respectful by wearing a cover up over my dress. As soon as I saw our driver I asked him if I could take off my cover-up. He looked at me funny & said “…cover up?” and I said “yes this thing I’m wearing! Can I take it off? Is that okay?” and he said “you can do whatever you want sister you are in Marrakech now!” so I took it off & never touched it again for the rest of the trip. I always wore long & loose dresses though.
Our riad was called Riad Chamali & they were amazing. I cannot say enough good things about Riad Chamali & would recommend them to anyone going to Marrakech! They were clean, they were polite, they were helpful, & the house itself was beautiful. We had one complaint & that is that the air conditioning in our room did not cool the room at all. Sometime on night 1, I actually got up in the middle of the night and moved to the day bed that was in our room because it was closer to the AC and it still didn’t help. We relied on cold showers throughout the trip to help. As soon as we stepped inside the riad, you could smell Moroccan spices in the air as well as something very similar to essential oils. It was so nice! They took us out to the courtyard to have me fill out some check-in information and while we sat by the pool, they brought us a plate of cookies & chilled Moroccan mint tea. As a southern girl, I love tea. However, I like it sweet, which this wasn’t. Lindsey said she’s not much of a tea drinker but we were both hot & thirsty and this was cold so we drank it appreciatively.
It was early evening now so we decided to have dinner at our riad. We ordered the lamb & chicken couscous for 2 & our first of MANY fresh juices. That is something I miss about Morocco. We drank fresh pressed juices every day, multiple times throughout the day. They were abundant, I’m assuming because of the lack of alcohol. I actually came back to the States 5 lbs lighter than what I left. A juice cleanse & sweating your ass off daily will do that.
As we were eating, Lindsey started Googling hammams that we can go to.
“What is a hammam?!” Well, dear friends, let me tell you. It’s basically a public steam room or a bath house. You can do a private room as well but Lindsey & I just decided to do it together. But anyways, it operates as a spa & offers services like facials & massage as well.
She found one that said online they were open until 11 PM, which I thought was strange until we learned that 10 PM is basically rush hour there. It was always SO busy at night! She called them & scheduled an appointment for us to have a traditional hammam treatment & a massage that night after we finished dinner. We were to meet one of their employees by the Bahia Palace at 9:30 PM & they would take us to the hammam.
We finished dinner & I plugged in the Bahia Palace into my GPS & we were off on our own for the first time in Marrakech!
Now, I have been doing my research & learning that people will try to give you directions & expect money in return or simply give you bad directions to throw you off so my guard is up as we walk. The medinas are SO easy to get lost in & the little roads just wind & intertwine & there are no real road names so as we’re walking, we’re just walking with a sense of urgency like we know exactly where we’re going. Men & children are all around trying to help us & Lindsey is saying “WE KNOW. WE KNOW WHERE WE ARE GOING” – well, my GPS ends & says we are at the Bahia Palace. No one there. Also, it doesn’t much look like a palace. Hmm. This could be sketchy. So here’s all these damn kids again “the palace is closed! The palace is closed! You must go THAT way!” and trying to direct us away. Lindsey is telling them “we know! We are waiting on a friend!” I’m just standing there quietly, just watching the slew of dirt bikes & mopeds riding around us & realizing I am totally not in Kansas anymore. I watched a Yamaha dirt bike ride by with 2 adults & 2 children on it. A dirt bike. I snap back to reality & see that the door of -what Apple Maps says- the “palace” is opening and closing & there IS a woman inside so I tell Lindsey “maybe that’s who we’re meeting! I’m gonna go see!” and as I am walking over the kids are telling Lindsey “no madame! This is our house! We live here!” and Lindsey says “WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING!” and so I just push the door open & sho’nuff…that was someone’s house. The woman inside looked at me like…well let’s just say, if looks could kill, I would have burst into flames. I just simply turned around & shut the door.
While I was breaking into people’s homes, Lindsey was messaging with the hammam manager. We had went to the backside of the palace & they would be there shortly to pick us up. I looked at Lindsey & half jokingly said “watch this woman pull up on a dirt bike or a scooter to pick us up” – well, after about 5 more minutes, lo & behold – a dirt bike pulls up with 2 women on it. One gets off & introduces herself as Saida from the hammam. She looks at us & asks “Shall we go?” and I’m a little confused but respond with “Sure……..on what?” because in my mind it was ‘bout to be me, Lindsey, Saida, & whoever the other woman was zoomin’ around the medina 4 deep on a dirt bike. She just simply responded with “we walk!”
It is now 10 PM on night 1 in Marrakech & we are following 2 strangers to a spa. This is exactly the shit I had told myself we wouldn’t do. But yet…here we are.
We go down so many roads I know my GPS will not understand until finally we arrive & Saida says “you’d never guess there was a spa in here!” Yeah girl, you sure wouldn’t.
We walk inside & it’s absolutely beautiful & smells amazing. Sort of like jasmine or something light & perfume-y. They take us to the reception area & serve us what tasted like chamomile tea while we looked over the menu of spa services. We decide on the eucalyptus black soap hammam as well as an hour long deep tissue massage.
We were then lead to a changing room where a robe, a set of slippers, & disposable underwear were there for us to change into. Our friendship was about to cross new boundaries. I’ve never bathed with a friend before.
Upstairs we were taken to the steam room. The walls were marbled & hot to the touch and the benches we laid on were padded. The attendants told us to take our robes off so we’re just hanging out in our weird little mesh underwear while they began splashing us with bowls of hot water. Not boiling or uncomfortably hot though. I’m told to lay down on my belly as my bath attendant starts soaping me up & then I’m told to flip over so she can soap up my front. I must really clarify here – these people are thoroughly bathing you. Like, I’m feeling fingers go between my toes & stuff. Then, once we were soaped up, we were left alone in the room for about 10 minutes just laying in soap suds on the padded benches. We laid there like “What the actual hell are we doing? Do we rinse ourselves? Did they even say? What should we do?” then they came back in and rinsed us off. Then came the scrub. They put on scratchy mitts & applied a body mask. They scrubbed & scrubbed & scrubbed some more then showed us how much dead skin was coming off of us. At one point my attendant told me I have “summer skin” & to this day, I still have no idea what she meant by that but she told me it was a good thing. Then ,once again, we laid in a mix of the body mask, sweat, and leftover water for about 10 minutes until they came in to rinse us for the last time. It was the most bizarre night of my life, but it’s been 2 weeks & my skin is still baby soft so I would totally do this again & if I ever find a hammam in the States, I’m goin’.
We were then taken to the massage room & had our hour long deep tissue massages with argan oil. My massage therapist was spectacular. At one point, she was up on the table with me. Like, if I had raised my head up off that table AT ALL I would have hit her in the crotch. Afterwards, I could barely move. It took me a while to function. Lindsey used the shower, while I was still trying to become human again. It is now after midnight & all I can think of is “we’re gonna have to figure our way outta here!” but the lovely ladies at the spa were going home (obviously, given how late it was) & they walked with us to a town square to catch a cab. He had no idea where our riad was so he kept stopping to ask people where Riad Chamali was…I had Clinton following our location from Florida…just in case.
That was just night 1.
And that’s where I’m stopping for now…
Until next time,