Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Morocco - and home!


I arrived in Morocco within a day of March 1, 2020 (it’d be great if I looked at my actual arrival day). There were rumors of a pandemic spreading from Asia, though it was less of a concern for me than the possibility of bedbugs in my hostel(s).


Here’s looking at you, kid. I don’t have a whole lot to say about Casablanca, as I did my usual routine and explored. I didn’t get into Rick’s, as my backpack did not contain an acceptable set of clothing and I was unwilling to buy something better. I wandered, I mingled, I had a good time. My most vivid memory is of how good the public transit was in getting me to the spots I wanted to explore - and how good the food was when I wandered into a spot. I recall eating a large, shared meal with either couchsurfers or hostel-folk, though I didn’t make friends the same way I had over the rest of the adventure.

Speaking of friends, my visit to Casablanca was interrupted (in a good way) by friends visiting...

Tuesday, December 28, 2021


Right on time - not two years later...


I showed up in Tunis, Tunisia on the 26th of December, 2019, unsure of what I’d find. I linked up with my couchsurfing host and over the next few days we wandered through the medina and beyond. This is the first country where I felt I was at a huge disadvantage as a monoglot - where most other places I’ve been have either adopted English as a second language (or at least have signage with Latin characters), the second language here is French (and there are no signs). Additionally, while the people were generally nice, there was an undercurrent of “I know better than you” - my first host actually insisted I put on a sweater before going outside in the moderately cool weather!


As usual, I have no idea what to write. The medina was impressive? There were lots of people, colorful shops, and good & bad smells? It was cool to go up to the rooftop cafes to drink coffee and smoke shisha (hookah). I'm not much of a shopper, so a lot of the appeal of any medina is lost on me. I did go to the library and write a poem though.

On medinas, generally, from an American perspective: have you ever been to the mall? Have you wished that all the clothes racks and jewelry displays and food courts kept their stuff within arms’ reach while you walked down labyrinthine hallways? Do you enjoy bumping into people and generally fighting to move forward, all while being slightly concerned about pickpockets and other characters? Then medinas are for you. Everywhere I went people were excited to show me the medina and I was like “oh, this is like a smelly, cramped flea market where, even if I wanted to buy something I wouldn’t, as I’ll have to carry whatever I buy in my backpack later.” In summary: not for me.

Really, honestly, the highlight of Tunis was the discovery of leblebi - a chickpea soup over shredded stale bread. I probably ate the stuff every three days. I will have to figure out how to make it at home.

The historical sites were cool - I spent a day and saw Sidi Bou Said with its blue & white buildings in the morning, then the ruins of Carthage in the afternoon. Knowing the history made the ruins interesting - on their own they were modest piles of rocks. The pictures I took reflect this.

After my first host, I spent a couple weeks at an AirBnB while I tried to coordinate with a workaway in the south. This was a fun time - the host and I got along really well and we explored cafes, bars, and restaurants around the city together.

Skipping ahead a bit, when I returned to Tunis in March I visited the Bardo Museum. I would highly recommend it - it's a museum of all the mosaics that have been found in the country (plus a few other things). I was really blown away. Before I returned to Tunis, however, I had to go to: