Spain/Morocco 2011:
Day 9 - Agadir, Morocco


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Spain/Morocco 2011: [Day 1 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 2 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Gibraltar] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Funchal, Portugal] [Day 7 - Tenerife, Canary Islands] [Day 8 - Arrecife, Canary Islands] [Day 9 - Agadir, Morocco] [Day 10 - Marrakech, Morocco] [Day 11 - Seville, Spain] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 14 - Andorra]

Sunday, October 30, 2011: Well, hello Maersk! After getting shut out the day before, we found ourselves in the land of white Maersk containers.

And hello to you, Morocco, and your red flag with the green star on it!
And finally, hello to the continent of Africa! We've missed you since our visit to Egypt in 2007.
While out on deck, we enjoyed the schools of fish frolicking in the water below, ...
... and then we saw this monster jellyfish. His main body was about three feet long, and his tentacles were at least five feet long. There was another one not far away, but that one didn't pose for us close to the surface like this one did.
Of course, we booked a shore excursion. Agadir is a resort town, with a long, crescent-shaped beach, ...
... and sparkly-new hotels lining it.
They have a McDonald's too. Cool.
We passed this entrance to the grounds of the Royal Palace, ...
... and this entrance to a house with great taste in shrubbery.
Our first stop was Foliesberbères, an entertainment complex that puts on events and Moroccan shows for tourists.
The staff and entertainers greeted us with dancing and music as we entered the complex.
Step inside with us.
We were offered our choice of cookies and a glass of mint tea, ...
... so we graciously accepted. The mint tea was interesting, and the cookies tasted just as you'd expect from this photo.
One of the attractions of this place was the free camel rides available, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to try it.
We stepped up to the bar, where several soft drinks and brands of beer were for sale.
We didn't feel right drinking alcohol in a Muslim country, so we got our sugar rush with bottles of Fanta and Coke instead.
Here are some women in sleeveless shirts riding the camels. Way to respect the local culture, ladies! Sigh.
The show started with a group of musicians and dancers.
As is typical of folkloric shows, they brought some volunteers on stage to help out, ...
... and they were happy to oblige, including this little one, ...
... who stole everyone's hearts, including the band's.
Next up: a lovely belly dancer, ...
... with amazing flexibility.
Then, a set of five acrobats performed amazing feats (and the occasional non-amazing one according to Tom: "I could do that.").
We reconsidered the wisdom of our front-row seat choice when the snake charmer came out with his bags and box of snakes.
He put on a show with this scary cobra, ...
... but then interacted with the audience with a less scary snake.
These drum and dance performers were next.
Between each act, a mini-horse race was run.
And they're off!
Each race ended with the riders firing their rifles.
This camel's eyes were spooky and beautiful at the same time.
A few more camel rides for the masses, and it was time to leave.
We passed a group of Moroccan kids playing soccer in an empty field, ...
... and some guards with actual big guns guarding the entrance to where we had just been. Hmmmm.
Morocco uses the familiar autobahn sign to direct drivers toward its highways.
Agadir is a quickly growing city with many new buildings, and then the occasional empty lot.
Stop!
Our next stop was Pharmacie Soufi, ...
... where women were processing argan nuts used to create argan oil.
Our guide, Kamal, showed us a photo of goats in argan trees -- apparently, they love to eat the leaves and fruit, so they climb the trees.
Next, we were herded into the pharmacy to do some shopping.
The pharmacy was a single room lined with shelves of oil-based products and other items.
A team of three gave a demonstration of their wares, rubbing samples on each of us: rose lotion, almond lotion, jasmine perfume oil, ambergris, etc.
This guy described all of the products and then did all of the selling afterward, ...
... while this woman went around giving argan oil neck massages for a couple of euros each. With set prices and no haggling, it was easy to drop some cash here on some great-smelling lotions.
This unusual tree was blooming right outside the pharmacy. No idea what it is, unfortunately.
Back in the bus again, seeing the sights, ...
... including this display of bougainvillea. There were at least four different colors of this gorgeous bloom throughout town: pink, purple, yellow, and white, but a photo of all four at once proved elusive.
En route to our next destination, we saw this cemetery that wrapped around the base of this hill.
We were headed to the kasbah, and followed this winding road fortified by excellent stone retaining walls.
This is a portion of a large inscription on the side of hills that translates into something like "God, Country, King." We'll show you a photo later.
As soon as our tour bus parked, the camel owners descended on us to sell us camel rides.
We made it through the gauntlet of camels and street vendors and had a chance to enjoy the view.
Here's a closer shot of the beautiful beach.
We watched these fishing boats gently bumping into each other as one of them attempted to park.
We headed up this road, ...
... past the street vendors' displays of wares, ...
... and up these stairs, which some guests refused to climb ("Do we have to? I'm not going to."). Time after time, we are reminded of how lucky we are to be able to travel while we're still in good shape. We often hear complaints from fellow tourists who aren't able or willing to walk or climb to see the sights we're here to see.
So, here's what we were here to see. The ancient kasbah, ...
... which we were, in fact, rocking.
Kamal gave us the history of the fort and the city, ...
... stopping briefly when the Muslim call to prayer went out over speakers from these towers.
From up here, we had a great view of the pier and our ship.
When it was time to leave, we went back down the stairs to the left here, and through the entrance, ...
... emerging at the top of the road leading back to the bus.
A cat contemplated his existence and the view. So many fish ... so far away.
We snapped this photo from a distance and the camel owners immediately headed toward us asking for money, but we just got on the bus.
Our route back down from the kasbah circled the hill around the back, showing the stark contrast between bustling city and open landscape.
Debbie scored this Maersk win as we drove through the dock area.
Back onboard at the start of sail out, we spied another huge jellyfish from our balcony, and watched him as he swam toward the churning water caused by the ship moving away from the pier. We saw him bob up and down in the churning water for a bit before swimming too far down beneath the surface to see.
We grabbed a table on deck at the back of the ship, and got a bucket of Stella Artois to enjoy in the afternoon sun.
Back in the Atlantic, the boat was rocking, and it was quite amusing to see the water in the pool slosh over one side and then the other.
We got a shot of the kasbah on the hill, with the large inscription on the side.
Tom took a panoramic shot of the city.
We made steady progress on our bucket, ...
... and finally finished it off after a great afternoon at sea.
Once again, our starboard-side cabin proved to be an excellent choice, as the ship headed north and we followed the Moroccan coastline to our next destination.
Being big "Top Chef" fans, we were thrilled that the evening's dining room menu featured dishes created by Marcus Samuelsson, one of our favorite chefs from the show.
The grilled salmon with tomato broth was so delicious that we both completely drained our dishes of every last spoonful of broth, although we'll do that with pretty much anything that features lime juice and cilantro.
The chocolate cake with blueberry cream was not so delicious, strangely enough. Sorry, Marcus.
'Twas the night before Halloween, and all through the atrium, pumpkins carved and decorated by the ship's staff were on display. Here are pumpkins by the Explorations team, Adagio Strings, ...
... Housekeeping, Dining Room, ...
... Entertainers, Deck Department, ...
... Front Office, ...
... Kids Programs, Shore Excursions, ...
... Photo/Video, ...
... the Beverage Department, ...
... and our personal favorite, Pancho, from the Duty-Free Shops.

In preparation for our next day's excursion, we cued up "Marrakesh Express" on our cabin's iPod player.

Day 10 >


Spain/Morocco 2011: [Day 1 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 2 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Gibraltar] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Funchal, Portugal] [Day 7 - Tenerife, Canary Islands] [Day 8 - Arrecife, Canary Islands] [Day 9 - Agadir, Morocco] [Day 10 - Marrakech, Morocco] [Day 11 - Seville, Spain] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 14 - Andorra]

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