Date of Trip: August 2010
My Best Trip in My life!!!
I’m happy to tell you about my recent trip to Morocco. We travel as a group of 8 (4 families with teenage children), always the six of us, and every year we go to a different place. Money permitting, we love to travel, but we tend to stay away from organized tours in the usual sense of the word since so often they tend to protect from really getting into the places, skipping from one tourist attraction to the next. This year we decided to go to Morocco, mainly because it seemed inexpensive, but after the vacation we were definitely in love with the place.
We flew into Marrakech and were impressed immediately upon arrival by the airport building: its incredible roof outside is like lace and the sun shines through it, casting beautiful shadows on the pavement: there already was an incredible atmosphere greeting us. We took a taxi for 6 (a minivan) and for 15 euros were taken to Marrakech, with hundreds of scooters speeding around us! Our hotel was right off the Jeema el-Fna – an orderly chaos of smells, colors and sounds, by day and into the night! We hadn’t yet learned to not fall for taking pictures of guys with cobras (after you do they demand money), but that is how it started! We spent 2 days in Marrakech visiting the traditional tourist destinations (the souk, the Saadian toumbs, the Majorelle Gardens, the Tower of Hassan II and so forth) before we were met by our travel guides (sahara-magic .com) that we had selected for the real tour: Hassan ghana of sahara-magic(he speaks 5 languages, and is half Tuareg, half Berber) and said (he absolutely doesn’t speak any foreign language but drives fine!). From the outset, we found Hassan an incredible person, full of joy, outgoing, but never intrusive.
We left for Ouarzazate where we visited the Kasbah Ait Benhaddou (a lot of movies were made there) and then off to the Todra Gorges. Here we stayed in a hotel built in the caves! How wonderful! If you want I can give you its name. The next legs of our trip were the classic ones: Erfoud, Merzouga, Rissani, Zagora and Ouarzazate: you can do them with any tour operator, but what we experienced is unforgettable. At Erfoud we had lunch at home with Hassan’s family: What a welcome! We ate couscous the way they make it and drank REAL mint tea, his sister’s friends were doing henna tattoos, and did it to us, too. The next evening we headed for a desert oasis on camels, to spend the night in a berber tent distinctly counting every star in the Milky Way (well, almost all). How can we forget, while at his family’s home, how Roger ‘vomited’ from having drunk milk in his morning coffee?!?!? But that mishap actually led to an interesting experience! Hassan ‘s mother massaged special points of Roger’s wrists and feet with ‘magic’ oil, and incredibly, somehow, after a quarter of an hour, Roger was good as new.
And how can we forget our stop on the way to Zagora, stopping to take a picture, when suddenly 2 children leaped out from nowhere offering a pony made of mud, they had made with their hands, in exchange for some candy! And when they accompanied us through the tiny dark inner passageways of a small town in the south, revealing the meaning of poverty, enabling us to quietly and respectfully peek into the everyday life of people in southern Morocco. And how can we forget our lunch, eating Berber pizza, in a small rug factory, sitting in the midst of all those dancing colors and so many types of fabric! I could go on for hours recounting the feelings, more than the places we visited. Thanks to Hassan(organizing everything down to details like cool drinking water, snacks, SD cards for my camera and making us always feel safe in places that are so strange to us in culture and language) and to said, who, though silent and not speaking our language and understanding little, was an incredible and fun travelling companion.
Feelings, understanding the land and the people of the country we are visiting are what we seek when we travel and that is definitely what we got this time. And our children thank us for it, too.
My Trip to New York City
October 30, 2009
For about the tenth time the morning of the flight, I checked my room to make sure I didn’t leave anything essential behind. My stomach was doing flips as we arrived at the airport and made our way to the gate. It didn’t get much better than this: I watched through the window as the runway zoomed by and the buildings and houses became smaller and smaller as the plane gained altitude. An exhilarating feeling overcame me as I realized that I would soon be in one of the most amazing cities of the United States.
As we stood waiting for a taxi outside of the airport, it was immediately apparent to me that New York City was not the same as New Caney, Texas. It seemed like everyone there was in a hurry to get to another place. The loud and constant sound of cars honking was heard throughout the entire trip. As soon as a car seemed to be going slower than the person behind him liked, he would hear the horn of that car to let him know that he was apparently holding everybody else up! When we found our hotel in Times Square, I noticed that it wasn’t just the cars that were in a hurry. Everyone in the streets was walking at a brisk pace that indicated a rush to be somewhere. The transportation of the city was also far different than anything that I had ever been exposed to. In my little town, a bike, a car, or even walking was perfectly suitable for getting around town, but in this foreign land, there were many more ways for one to get to another destination. Everywhere you looked, there were people hailing taxis, waiting on buses, rushing underground to the subway stations, walking frantically, or desperately trying to maneuver their own cars through the busy streets. Just standing and watching the many people rushing their own separate ways was an interesting observation.
In addition to the people and transportation, the buildings were also an incredible sight. Each street was crammed with buildings that were built side by side with no room in between them, and a number of skyscrapers were present throughout the city as well. I was awestruck again as we went inside some of these buildings such as the Empire State Building and made our way towards the top. Standing outside of one of the top stories of the Empire State Building was awesome. I could hold the entire city in my hand from this view. I could even see Ellis Island a distance away from there. The stores were also large compared to the ones of my little town. A small retail store in New Caney would be a huge store that took up an entire building in New York. This would make it seem logical that the prices of everything in New York were almost triple those back home. It was as if the little peaceful neighborhood where I lived was magnified by 100 to make up the wonder city of New York.
My visit to New York City was a life changing experience. For the first time in my life, I was exposed to a little taste of what the real world is like. The incredible modes of transportation, the huge skyscrapers, and all of the thousands of people made me anxious to grow up and perhaps move to an incredible city such as this one. Either way, my first trip to New York was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, one I will always treasure.