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Date: 10 Sep 2013 14:26:00
Title: Morocco - A new world!

34:01.7500N 006:49.3000W
 
imageWe have arrived in Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, and are staying at the relatively newly built Bouregreg Marina. This is a whole new world for us: We are in North Africa, the language is Arabic (althoug most also speak French) and it is a Muslim country, with all the cultural and practical differences that entails. I already now feel that this is going to be one of the highlights of the whole journey!
 
Rabat, as most cities here, lies at the entrance to the Bouregreg river, and the marina lies a mile or so up the river. The entrance can be tricky, especially in a swell, with its rather poorly marked shallow areas, so the marina sends out a launch to guide us in to the marina. Along the way hundreds of people we watching us as we slowly made our way up the river, and everything seemed foreign to us; the smells, sounds, buildings, colors, and people yelling “Welcome Norway”. Kjersti and Vibeke covered their shoulders and knees as we had been told,
 
First stop, as always, was the immigration dock. We had been told that this could be a tedious and challenging process. We were received by courteous and friendly police, and the clearance procedure was easy and smooth. We were given a space at the end of a pier in this very high security marina. Tourists were obviously valuable and we were not to be bothered. Not a person was even allowed on the docks unless we escorted them, and there was 24-hour surveillance. It also probably did not hurt that the royal family also had their yachts on the dock next to ours!
 
Our first few days have been spent seeing the town, especially the “medina”, the walled old-town on both sides of the river with it’s bustling market booths selling everything from spices, furniture, fish, tapestries, fake watches, leather goods, food, etc. The rule of thumb is that you should haggle with the vendors and that the correct price is approx. 75% of the initial asking price.
 
We met a local guide and taxi driver, Moncef, who, along with his wife Najat and sons, became our Moroccan family. Moncef helped us with everthing we could want or need, and we were invited to their home for a traditional meal of couscous and tagine (a local cooking method in a covered clay pot). Wonderful friends and just the first indication of the generosity and hospitality we were to enjoy our entire time in Morocco.
 
As you can imagine, every minute in an exotic place like this holds a new experience, in total too many to share here. We plan on spending four days here and will continue southwards on Friday.

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