The Roadtrip. Oh My. This was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It was so impulsive. Basically, my friend Davita really wanted to go to this saffron farm in the middle of the countryside, and the only way to get there was by car. Lucky for us, it turned out that renting a car in Morocco is incredibly cheap. So there was really no reason not to go. “Driving in Morocco will be so fun!” I told Davita on the way to Marrakesh, as our bus hurtled through the countryside, honking the horn almost constantly, without really stopping for people to get on and off – everyone just kind of jumped onto the bus while it was still moving.
We got really lucky with forming a last-minute roadtrip crew. I was the only one who could really drive (thank you Mom for forcing me to learn how to reverse up a hill with a stickshift), Davita was sensible and resourceful, Anna was fun and adventurous, and Lahcen, a local, knew the country really well, spoke all the languages, and kept us from getting ripped off all the time. It was so fortunate that he decided to come with us, as things would have been drastically different if it had just been us girls.
Traveling with a man made us feel a bit safer in general, but there was still the whole issue of driving in Morocco. According to Davita’s guidebook, “driving in Morocco is extremely hazardous”. I can confirm this to be true. The roads are absolute shit, pedestrians love to walk directly in front of moving vehicles, and no one EVER stays in their lane. You really just get used to it after a while. I almost had heart failure upwards of fifty times, but it was okay because we got to see absolutely breathtaking scenery that a lot of tourists in Morocco never get to see. We drove over the mountains at night, hiked around the Ouzoud waterfalls and saw wild monkeys, ate the best tagine, and watched the most incredible sunset over a bright blue lake. Every moment was beautiful.
We finally made it to the fabled saffron farm on the third day – a journey which involved the incredibly stressful task of driving the car straight through a crowded village market. Oh my god, it was terrible. But then we got to the farm – an actual paradise – and I instantly felt calm and serene. The Swiss woman who owned the place showed us her baby donkey and hundreds of tropical fruit trees – pomegranates, mangoes, lemons, bananas, and everything else you could ever think of. We drank bright yellow saffron tea and washed our feet in rosemary water, saffron water, lemon water, and rose petal water. Then we scrubbed them with sea salt and pure argan oil. I’m telling you, my feet have never felt so pure and blessed before. But then I really fucked up.
So when we left the saffron farm, I had to drive down this extremely narrow dirt road that ran alongside a little river, and the sun was in my eyes. Also, there was a pile of branches in the road. And I’m also an idiot. I kind of swerved just a little bit to avoid the branches in the road. Okay, maybe I swerved more than just a little, because suddenly everyone was yelling at me and then the car was halfway off the road and the front wheel was in the river. I could not believe it. One by one, people from the village came out into the road to look at what I’d done. It was such a disaster. We figured the only thing we could do was to build a layer of stones underneath the wheels so we could reverse the car back onto the road. To do that, we had to wade through the river, which was literally full of used diapers and nasty garbage and other shit. Remember how my feet were so clean and pure just twenty minutes before? Well, now they were getting saturated in dirty-diaper water while everyone was staring at me! I felt like such an idiot.
It took almost an hour and about eight people to get us out of there. All these Moroccan men showed up and laughed at me as they helped us push the car out of the river. I must have looked ridiculous – I was wearing magenta velvet bell-bottoms and broken flip flops and I probably smelled like dirty diapers. The Swiss woman walked over from the saffron farm to have a look at the disaster – I couldn’t even look her in the eyes. But the important thing was that we got the car out of the river, and we all survived. Oh, and the car was fine too (as far as we could tell).
Although you can see a lot of Morocco without a car, I would highly recommend a roadtrip to anyone craving a real adventure. All you need to do is just ask around at hostels, and you will find people to go with you. Don’t be afraid – if I can drive for three days straight in Morocco, so can you. Just be very careful and don’t drive into rivers!