You’re reading Chapter 5 of our #BestTravelStoryEver series, featuring adventures from our very own Flighties. Catch up on other chapters here!
With all this extra time we have now, I find myself reminiscing of past travels. I even pulled out my expired passports the other day and was going through them looking at all the entry stamps from 37 countries. Now, you might be thinking, that sounds boring?! – Well, I tell ya, a person can only scroll the internet and bake cookies for so many days in a row before she needs something else to do!
That, and I miss travel. The planning of it, the excitement leading up to leaving and, of course, the memories made while away. I know the first thing I’m going to do when isolation is over is give my friends & family the biggest and longest hugs and then start looking at making my bucket list plans a reality.
As I flipped through the pages of the tired-looking passports, a wave of emotion came over me. Not only because I realized how much rounder my face has gotten since 2009… but because of how many memories are stored in this tiny booklet. Quick getaways, family vacations, reunions, my destination wedding and the very first time I flew internationally.
One stamp particularly caught my eye, bringing a smirk to my face as I ran my finger over the embossed and faded ink: Morocco – Feb 24, 2016.
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After booking a last-minute trip on a tour through Spain, Portugal and Morocco, my boyfriend, Jay, and I were excited to head overseas and visit these three countries in 14 days. We had decided to go on a group tour because it was a great price and gave us a chance to make the most of our time there. After a beautiful visit in Spain, we boarded the ferry in Tarifa and took the hour boat ride into one of the most unique places we have ever been.
Travelling along the dusty roads lined with palm trees, we made our way to Fez el Bali, the ancient Arab city that feels like you are entering a time capsule. This city is unlike any other, the remnants of 9th century North Africa offering a maze of winding alleys and roads to get lost in the city for hours…well, more like weeks if you don’t know your way around! Even the local guide said it took him 13 years to finally get his bearings, as this is one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world!
As we passed by donkeys loaded with goods, the sights and smells were something that couldn’t go unnoticed. Every turn was different, every corner offered something new. The area was alive with tanneries, mosques and plenty of markets to shop at. Known for their custom carpets (prepare to meet the ultimate salespeople here!) as well as ceramic and leather shops, there is something for everyone. I can remember the smells and beautiful colours like it was yesterday.
From there, we went to Marrakech, the vibrant city full of life and gorgeous mosaics. We explored the Medina bustling full of street vendors and snake charmers, and I even got some henna on my hand while we ran between vendor stalls to stay out of the rain. The best food I’ve ever had was in this square: tanjine. It has a unique pottery cover that it comes with it so that the condensation will flow to the bottom of the dish. Oh, and the flavours!! It’s enough to make your mouth drool just talking about them, ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and saffron along with paprika and chilli in some. The sauce melts in your mouth with the first taste, I opted for the chicken dish and had to control myself not to lick the plate after!
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Our quick trip to Morocco had us end in Tanjier for the evening. The night was planned with a camel ride on the Moroccan beaches at sunset! We were thrilled for the experience; however, I was getting over a cold at the time and hesitant to be straddled to a camel on a windy beach. Jay was determined for us to have a great time and promised it would be.
We waited our turn as the rest of the group got on their own camels and we ended up being the last two people. I had reluctantly said yes to hopping on a camel, but when Jay thought he’d join me – I was baffled and quite frankly a little miffed. Everyone else got to ride their own camel, why should I have to share (even if it was with the love of my life). He said it’d be romantic (which he prides himself in not being), so away we went: cruising down the beach as a beautiful sunset was glistening on the ocean on Ali Baba, the camel.
On our way back to the group, I heard a deep breath coming from Jay and he said, “Well, Babe, we’ve been best friends for the past seven years, and I want to know if you’ll be my best friend for the rest of our lives. Will you marry me?” I was not expecting this at all, turned around as best I could without faceplanting off the camel, and yelled as I saw the ring! “OMG, omg, OMG, omg, OMG….” That was literally all I could get out; I must have said it so much that the guy driving the camel started to repeat it after me “Omg! Omg! Ali Baba!! Look! Omg!!” When I finally caught my breath, I said yes.
We got back to the group, and everyone was waiting. Right there on the sandy Moroccan beaches, they had their cameras out and were cheering, while the tour guide put on the music to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. It was quite the sight and is still quite the memory.
What an incredible thing a passport is; one tiny faded stamp can bring back some of the most beautiful memories.