Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.
Who: Andrea Foley (the author) and her husband, Greg, from Reston traveled with a small group sponsored by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, including its curator of African art, Richard Woodward.
When, where, why: A 12-day trip to the Imperial Cities, Sahara Desert and Atlas Mountains of Morocco to celebrate a milestone birthday for me. I have always been fascinated by the country’s architecture and multicultural history.
Highlights and high points: Morocco is one brilliant burst of color after another: the lush green oases, the white-capped Atlas mountains, the setting sun on the glowing orange dunes of the Sahara, the blue of the Atlantic coast, wildflowers among Roman ruins, the intricate and vibrant tile work, the brilliant colors of the graceful arched doors and the never-ending parade of wares offered in the souks.
Among many, one unforgettable experience was traveling back in time to the sights and smells of the warrenlike ninth-century medina of Fez. Little has changed for centuries — it was crowded walll-to-wall with people and animals among the tiny shops selling food and crafts. The medina’s leather tannery was an especially breathtaking sight with its pungent smell and dyers up to their knees in huge vats of color.
Cultural connection or disconnect: The women we saw in Morocco wore a wide array of styles, from Western clothing with or without headscarves to long robes (jelabas) with headscarves to a small number in full-body covering. In Marrakesh, we had a 20-something female guide who was dressed like any young professional woman in Northern Virginia. In an insightful and personal conversation, we discussed the changing role of Moroccan women and their range of individual choices concerning careers, dress, faith and families.
Biggest laugh or cry: United Airlines lost my suitcase for the first eight of our 12 days in Morocco. Luckily, I learned long ago to pack at least three days’ worth of clothes in a carry-on. Laundry, a bit of shopping and a sense of humor got me through; and I have the airline to thank for a gorgeous Moroccan jacket.
How unexpected: We didn’t fully know what to expect, but we were amazed at how delicious all the food was. Everything was produced locally and naturally, yielding sweet strawberries as big as your fist, fresh baked breads and perfectly spiced dishes cooked in colorful tagines. It all went well with the good Moroccan wines.
Fondest memento or memory: Since we met many years ago in a film history class, our favorite movie has been “Casablanca.” On our last night, we had dinner at Rick’s Cafe; not a tourist trap, but a lovely homage to the movie. As we shared champagne cocktails with “As Time Goes By” being played on the piano, we were reminded that our youthful dreams of travel have more than come true, and we’ll always have Morocco.
To tell us about your own trip, go to washingtonpost.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fondest memories, finest moments and favorite photos.