Marrakech, Morocco and the BIG birthday!

Marrakech! It was last Fall while passing through Paris that I first had the thought of ever going to Marrakech. My friend Kamil whom I met up with in Paris is from Marrakech and extended a generous invitation to visit him there. I knew the Spring would be the earliest I could manage to get there and my birthday just so happens to be in the Spring so it seemed perfect to plan to be there on the BIG day. And this year wasn’t just any birthday, it was the BIG birthday.
Once the plans were in place, there were a few setbacks just before arriving that had me second guessing my decision. A week before we were scheduled to leave the US, a terrorist planted a bomb in the Argana Cafe that sat right in the center of Jam El Fna Square. This was the heart of the tourist area and a cafe frequented by many tourists. I was slightly hesitant to continue my plans, but once I reached out to all of my Moroccan friends, they reassured me that I couldn’t let the terrorists win. A bombing like that could have happened anywhere, Madrid, London, Bali, New York.
They were right and their insistence that I not let it worry me gave me the confidence and reassurance I needed. The trip was still on.
Then just four days before I was planning to board a flight, President Obama announced that the US had killed Osama Bin Laden. A time to rejoice, yes, but a time to travel?
The US issued an advisory to all Americans traveling abroad to be on high alert. Really? Was this the best time to travel? Maybe the universe was trying to tell me something.
I went anyway. My friends in Morocco greeted me with the best birthday celebration I ever could have asked for. Kamil hosted my birthday Friday night at his friend’s house. They had a table set for 20, 4 chefs cooking a 5-star meal and a birthday cake to top it off. We ate, drank and danced all night long. It was truly 5- star.
Kamil treated me to lunch the following day, my actual birthday, at the 7-star La Mamounia Hotel. It was stunning. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
The second night another set of friends, Saad and Slim whom I had met in Prague during my Europe tour, hosted a birthday dinner for me at a beautiful restaurant with yet another birthday cake and dancing at a nightclub after. The weekend was exhausting. By Sunday, it was time to relax and do some sightseeing. Riding through the Kasbah on a horse-drawn carriage was the highlight of that sightseeing.
After this fun-filled action packed weekend, I needed rest. Two days in Essaouira was the recommendation. It served exactly what I needed.
Birthday ’11 started with Kamil as the host
The chefs that cooked us a 5 star meal of fresh lobster salad and veal Wellington
The dining table
One of the many impressive corridors in the house

Birthday cake number 1

Birthday night number 2

Hosted by my sweet friends, Saad and Slim

Birthday cake number 2

The after party
In da club
This is how they serve Moroccan tea. It is the best tea I have ever had. I drank it every day.
Jam el Fna Square
The Argana cafe where the bombing happened a week earlier.
Street performers in the square.
The poor guy who had to carry our luggage to the taxi. It’s not every day you pass a mule on the street.
Food in the market
Birthday cake number 3 came from the hotel staff.
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