The Road to Morocco (Part 8)

My Final Thoughts

As our trip to Morocco was coming to an end, one of the participants felt the need to express her discontent. We were on the bus, going from one place to some other place (it doesn’t really matter where), and she insisted that she be given the microphone to say her piece (as if anyone had any interest in stopping her). She was not unhappy with the way our journey had been handled, with the food, with most of our accommodations, nor with her fellow travelers. She was unhappy with Morocco itself. For one thing, the amount of poverty. Barbara and I were thinking, she ought to visit India if one needs to see REAL unmitigated poverty. Wait a minute! Why go that far? To see more beggars than would have fit on our tour bus, just come with me on a Thursday morning to Mahane Yehuda. There are lots of folks hawking their wares throughout Morocco, but beggars? Only in Casablanca, which seems to be a law unto itself. That, however, wasn’t our fellow traveler’s main concern. It was something like, “the Jews didn’t just leave, they were KICKED OUT.” And nobody was going to tell her anything to the contrary. Continue reading

The Road to Morocco (Part 7)

On the Way to Rick’s Café

Ordinarily, if I’m taking a long bus ride, much of the time I’ll either be reading something in print (think book or newspaper), fidgeting with my iPhone, or taking a well-deserved snooze. However, on this journey from Marrakech to Casablanca, I was wide awake looking out the window, partly because I suspect I won’t be seeing this scenery again for quite a while – if ever, and partly because much of the time I was counting the minutes until the next rest stop. (Let me off the bus; I gotta pee!) Continue reading

The Road to Morocco (Part 6)

Oh give me a home where the Jews used to roam…….

The brochure said we would be traveling by jeep ‘to the Ourika Valley, set in the beautiful Atlas Mountains.’ Whoa, boy; get a grip! We’re going to the valley in the mountains? And we’re going by jeep? Looks to me more like a caravan of SUV’s waiting in front of our hotel. I appreciate the fact that we’re going to places that would be difficult for a tour bus to navigate, but we’re not exactly going off-road.

We were in fact going to the tomb of the famous Rabbi Salomon Bel Hench. Or was it the famous tomb of Rabbi Salomon Bel Hench? Either way, who was this guy who’s so famous? Continue reading

The Road to Morocco (Part 5)

A small shul, a grand hotel, and lots to eat.

Our driver, Said, had gotten his bus to a spot across the street from the Radisson Blu Hotel, which is on Mohammed V Avenue in the fancy-shmancy, well-to-do part of Marrakech. (A location in the newly built Carré Eden complex gives easy access to the complex’s internationally recognized stores and restaurants as well as to trendy nightlife nearby…) All he had to do now was somehow go around the block, finding a way to get us in front of the hotel, so we wouldn’t have to cross this busy thoroughfare lugging our suitcases. Easier said than done. He tried several different ways, but each time he wound up back in the same spot, opposite the hotel. There was only one thing to do: make a U-turn in the middle of the block, a highly dubious maneuver that would run one afoul of the law in other circumstances.

If our previous hotel had been kind of iffy, The Radisson Blue was more than spiffy (I just thought of that!) Our room was about a ten minute walk from the elevator, but once we opened the door and looked in… Oh my! I could get used to staying in a place like that, in the lap of luxury, with not a care in the world. Good thing too, because we would be there for three nights, and who wants to spend three nights in a dump? It was also within reasonable walking distance of the synagogue we would be praying over Shabbat and the hotel where we would be eating. Whoever planned this gets two thumbs up from yours truly. Continue reading