moROCKo!

This was definitely our smartest, dumbest trip of all time, and without Hashem’s help with our last second planning, and Raphy Elmaleh, we probably would have cried throughout our time in Morocco. But b’chasdei Hashem it was so fun, and you should go there to have fun too! We’re going to start with some basic tips and heads-ups, and then work our way to our actual itinerary and pictures.

  • The currency, Durham… there are two Durham’s in world. United Arab Emirates Durham, and then Moroccan Durham (MAD). UAE Durham is more than double the MAD, so use google currency wisely. We were super relieved to see our credit card bills much cheaper than expected! MAD is about a 10:1 ratio with the USD (so 20 MAD is about $2). They will gladly accept USD and Euro in most places.
  • You need straight cash throughout this trip. There were even some hotels that would only take cash, and main tourist attractions would only take cash as well. Start with $700 minimum… but also be careful with the ATM’s around. Have your hotel concierge guide you to the best ones.
  • Friday is the Muslim day of rest, and they take many trips as a result. Prepare for the more touristy areas to be more crowded on a Friday.
  • You’re going to need a guide for everything, and even a driver. Good news is, Morocco is a really cheap country, so you’re not going to break the bank with having all of these luxuries! Especially if you’re traveling with 3-4 people and splitting the fair. Many of the older cities were purposely built as mazes to have a military advantage over other countries (hard to navigate, and can ambush any strangers) – as a result, Google Maps doesn’t really cut it here, and there aren’t really too many street names.
  • Public transportation doesn’t really exist, it’s a third world country, and people are pushy and will try to hustle you. If you can’t ignore people or push back, you’re going to get ripped off. But to quote our new friend Salah, a random stranger who spoke to and paid for our cab, “For every person who will try to rip you off, there’s another who will help.”
  • Nobody speaks English. Still why you need guides and drivers. French or Arabic will do. Many times we would ask the hotel concierge to speak to the cabs for us, because even when you know what a fair price would be, it’s difficult to communicate that.
  • There is zero ill will towards Jews in this country. In fact, it’s the opposite – they are very proud of the Jews in the country, and there is a great respect between the two communities, and many commonalities even. We felt very comfortable openly saying we were Jewish, honestly more than in America even. The sultans of the past would move the Jewish areas within the palace area in order have the Jews closer to them, as well as to protect the Jews.
  • Don’t get henna from a stranger – they will rip you off, do a simple design, and often have lead in their products. Most of the street people giving henna have religious scarves over their faces not because they are super religious, but because they are super shady and are trying to mask their identity.
  • If you want a picture with a snake charmer, you must pay them to take a picture (20-30 MAD should be enough).
  • A 10 minute taxi ride is 50 MAD at most. If they don’t agree, just say you’ll get a different cab somewhere else, and walk away. They usually will take you right back. If you’re more than three people, you’ll have to take a bigger cab.
  • With the exception to three mosques in Morocco, it is illegal for a non-Muslim to enter a mosque. We by accident didn’t realize we were even walking into mosques (they’re literally everywhere), and we would randomly get yelled at, and then we would notice a washing fountain and it all clicked.
  • There aren’t too many opportunities for kosher meals depending on where in the country you are, so bring lots of food and snacks! The food though is delicious and cheap when you do get to go ($30 for a meat meal for three people, with lots of sides). Tea is offered throughout the country 🙂
  • Tissues are called Kleenex. Bring your own, hotels don’t have them.
  • Don’t rely on WiFi for your trip, it’s not always stellar. There also weren’t too many opportunities to use outlets to recharge your phone, so bring a backup battery!

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