received a call from my sister Sandra. “I’m extending an invitation you can’t refuse,
Carol. We’re going to Morocco. It won’t cost you a dime except for your personal
“Good heavens, Sandra, what are you talking about? Morocco?”
“Yes, Morocco. It’s that little country, about the size of California, in the northeast
coastline of Africa. Part of it borders the Mediterranean Sea and the other half, on the
other side of a mountain, is the Sahara Desert. It’s a quick ten-day excursion, Carol,
inclusive of all accommodations, roundtrip airfare, most meals and a tour guide. It’s a
perfect jaunt without our spouses.”
“You know I can’t turn down an offer like that! I’ve always wanted to ride a camel
and visit Casablanca.”
“You can forget any romantic notions you have about Casablanca being like the
movie, Carol. It’s the largest port city in Morocco and probably the most important
financial center in Africa. Besides, if I remember our family history correctly, the movie
wasn’t even filmed there. It was a Hollywood set production.”
“If the city is a financial center, it must have great places to shop and eat. I love
couscous and lamb and most spices. I think Moroccan cuisine is prepared with a lot of
spices, like ginger, saffron, cumin and cinnamon. And they’ll have seafood. I can’t wait
to tell Ian.”
We met up with two other friends in New York, where we also faced our first
challenge. Our supposed reliable and trusted guide, Henry, left his passport at home in
Los Angeles. Since we really had no other choice and our sense of adventure kicked in,
Sandra and I boarded the Royal Morocco plane without him.
The flight was uneventful except that the overhead lights were never turned out.
Despite this frustration, many seated around us were either sleeping or nodding off. We
quietly chatted most of the flight and were rewarded with a stunning sunrise as we
approached our destination.
Happily, we were met by a Moroccan guide, Lotve, who drove a Mercedes van. Ten
years old and slightly worn and weary, but it was still reasonably comfortable. Lotve took
us around Casablanca, then Rabat, which is the political and royal center of Morocco;
evidently each royal city has a prominent color and in Rabat it is white. Then he drove us
to Fez, just an hour east of there. Still without Henry.
The first thing I noticed about Fez was the plethora of royal blue tiles. Glorious
patterned tiles. Finally, after years of art classes and painting, I understood why this rich
color was called Fez blue.
Since no one in our group could speak of understand Arabic, we feared we wouldn’t
be able to enjoy any city if left to explore on our own. We were also apprehensive about
securing rooms at the right hotels. Henry had our itinerary. Did we have accommodations
at the Hilton or a refurbished mansion?
For some reason I didn’t question at the time, I was able to provide Lotve with names
and descriptions, effective enough to impress him with enough information to pave the
way for us wherever we went. In addition to the most notable tourist attractions, we
visited carpet factories, jewelry and clothing stores, and family-owned gift shops. By
now, I realized I was experiencing an unexpected but not inexperienced ESP. Several
proprietors wanted to gift me with tokens of their esteem.
Since our group was small, we traveled everywhere together and enjoyed each me
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