The sun started to rise over Casablanca in an orb so big it nearly filled the entire quadrant of the Eastern sky. The brilliant colors of orange, yellow, red and purple appeared over the horizon and looked computer generated as they were so vibrant. Had I not witnessed this majestic Moroccan sunrise with my own eyes, I would have never believed that something so extravagant ever existed.
The sunrise in Morocco is not the only extravagance here. The mosques, antiques, decadent food and fresh fragrant spices bring a sort of sensory circus to life that few other countries can rival.
Morocco is fast becoming a hot destination seeing double the growth in tourism over the last two years. Its popularity is due in part to the diverse activities and experiences you can have in a single trip.
In colorful Casablanca you can watch a culture in transition. Not far from tiny markets in narrow winding streets is a booming mall within sight of an ancient mosque.
In Fes and Marrakech, you can watch craftsmen in centuries-old markets create beautiful art using techniques passed down from generations. In coastal Tangier, you can enjoy fresh seafood and take in a relaxing day at the beach. In the Atlas Mountains, you can experience the primitive life of native Berbers. And, in the Sahara you can ride a camel as you watch the sunset turn the golden sand into a blank canvas of darkness.
There are so many treats for the senses here–in a good way. I walk past a vendor selling dozens of varieties of fresh olives. The scent in the air makes me hungry imagining all of the dishes I could garnish with them. The spices are piercingly fresh. Saffron, curry and cinnamon waft through the marketplace.
This is also the home of exotic Argon oil. When I first stumbled on it in Morocco, I had no idea what a miracle oil it was until I returned home and suddenly saw commercials advertising hair and beauty products with Argon oil in it.
The oil comes from the Argon tree found only in one location in Morocco which is why it is so rare and expensive. Through a labor intensive process the oil is hand-extracted from nuts hand-picked from the Argon tree. It is used in a variety of products from cooking oil to face oil.
Morocco remains one of my favorite destinations for the blend of experiences that I had there. It is enchanting, mysterious, exotic and lively.
Recently, my world-traveling parents, Don and Robbie Hamper, traveled deep into all of the regions throughout Morocco and uncovered even more about why this beautiful country is becoming such a popular destination.
In the coming weeks, through their photography and words, I will share their first-hand accounts of the food, the people, the culture, the desert, the art and their experiences. Perhaps this is your next destination.