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Published by Grant

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Published by: Grant on Feb 26, 2009
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(Kenitra & Asillah)Ironically our trips to both Kenitra (14-15 Feb) and Asillah (21-22 Feb)were both unplanned. When we wanted to go to Asillah we ended up going toKenitra because of extensive flooding that had closed the northern railnetwork and evidently claimed the life of 24 Moroccans while leavinghundreds of others homeless. We were certain that the French-Englishtranslation was incorrect when he had heard that the trains were not runningto the north due to “flooding.” Nope, the translations were correct but it leftus all slightly dumbfounded. The following weekend which we went toAsillah, we had actually intended on going to the city of Chefchaouen whichis in the north at thefoot of the Rif Mountains. However, we had missed thelast bus and the train was once again running north to Asillah.Our trip to Kenitra was as hectic as it was unplanned, arriving inMeknes to find out that trains weren’t running threw a major wrench in ourplans and so we explored every possibility for a couple of hours, to includerenting a car, but after they wanted a security deposit of 20,000MAD = 2,000USD or a blank check, the deal was off. Incidentally, the only two people inthe group of 9 of us who knew how to drive a stick shift were Alicia andGrant, in whichthe rental cars were, and so we were both much relieved tonot drive in Morocco! Without wheels, we consulted the Lonely Planet bookand soon it was decided that we at least wanted to make our way to thecoast and that by random choice we would be going to Kenitra (the closestcoastal city) and that we would stay at the Plage Mehdiya, a 7km strip of beach with a small town stretched along the water but not much wider thanthe beach itself. However, this decisionwas made late on Friday so we decidedto spend the night at one of the Hostelsin Meknes. We didn’t do much in Meknesexcept witness a beautiful sunset, atesome Moroccan food at a little café, andmet 4 Polish students who were stayingat our same hostal. The next morning we were off by train to Kenitra, onlyabout 1H30M away. Oddly enough the flooding that I mentioned earlier hadtaken place only a dozen or so miles to the north of where we were and wedidn’t see any indication or trace of such an event. When we arrived inKenitra, we made our way down the main street to the bus station to catch aride to the beach front Plage Mehdiya. Perhaps the first excitement in Kenitra
came not in the form of the architecture, the giant storks that patrol theskies, or being able to see the Atlantic, but rather the discovery of aMcDonalds which in any other situation both Aliciaand I would have frowned upon, but having a brief opportunity to partake in something resembling thefood back home was priceless and little did we knowwhat kind of food was in store for us at our finaldestination. Thus the girls in the group went to thebathroom at Mickey D’s while the guys got food. Gofigure. To get back on track, we had no problem getting a bus and in 20m wearrived in what seemed like a ghost town of a beachcommunity. Inches of sand covered the main road,restaurants were empty, and a cow was walkingherself down the middle of the main strip. Turns outthat the off season really does apply here and wewere the only tourists in the whole city. As a result, wewere able to get hotel rooms for everybody at about$8 per person per night (!) andrestaurants bustledwhen we walked byto try and sell uson their tastiestdish. Upon securingour hotel roomeveryoneimmediatelydeparted for thebeach, though it was short lived (about 30min) becauseeveryone was hungry. Now for the next adventure, weended up eating at one of the fish restaurants acrossfrom the beach, and when we ordered a plate of fish itreally was a plate of fish. I do first have to express my regret for Alicia, in herstruggle not only to find food but in also having to watch us eat a rathergrotesque-looking meal. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a whole fish before inmy life, and thanks to a girl with us named Why, who’s a pro at eating fish, Ialso learned that the fish heads were edible as well. Call me sheltered, butafter eating a half dozen fish heads and more whole prawns than I can countI was done with the meal, thankfully Alicia was able to get a salad thatsomewhat held her over. We really didn’t do much at Kenitra and poor Aliciawas hungry most of the time.
Happy Valentine’s Day
, we might add! I
think a personal highlight of the trip was smoking sheisha/hookah on thebalcony of the hotel while watching the sunset and thinking about howinteresting it is that as I am watching the sunset over the Atlantic the sun isrisingon the American East Coast. The hotel, though, was really cool and thestaff extremely friendly. The next day Mike, Why, and I were walking aroundthe small city and came across a Berber lady who was tending to her sheepon the edge of town, what was cool about it was that she had traditionalBerber tattoos on her face, and in general was an extremely friendly lady.Later that morning Alicia and I split from the group on the way back anddecided to walk back to the train station so we couldcheck out the Kasbah that was once inhabited byCarthaginians, the French, and US Marines. We alsowanted to walk back and check out some of thearchitecture in Kenitra which in many ways was veryoriginal when compared to what we had seen inMorocco thus far. Aftera few hours of walking, saving approximately 7dirhams (just under $1USD) we might add, wereached the Kenitra train station and hadabout an hour wait for our train to Meknes sowe went to a café that we both had some of the best local food we’ve had thus far inMorocco. Alicia got a super fresh salad(enjoyed every bite!) and an unbelievable orange juice (the waiter walkedacross the street somewhere empty-handed and returned with a freshly-squeezed glass of citrus, and I got a double burger that had an egg (over-easy) on it that made it remarkably good. Quite pleased with our luck afterthe fairly traumatic fish heads experience, we finished up and got on thetrain and a few hours later we were on a late night bus back to Ifrane.Asillah, the trip itself was kind of a reoccurrenceof the Kenitra trip in the sense that it wassomewhat oriented around relaxing and having agood time, there is one major difference though,the medina in Asillah is gorgeous! We arrived inAsillah late at night maybe 11pm and made ourway to the strip on the beach where ourapartment was (400MAD/50USD for six people anight) after staying up for a bit we headed to bed

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