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An Interesting Trip

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My brother-in-law recently got married in Spain, so my husband and I went there to be part of this important celebration. It was an interesting 2 week trip. Once we arrived in Spain, we took a short break before taking another flight the next day to go to Marrakech, Morocco for 4 days and then returned to Spain.

We had many options when we were planning this trip. My brother-in-law recommended to us that, once in Spain, it would be good to plan another trip to go to some other place in Europe. We had the option of going to Italy, Germany, Croatia, etc. We were not attracted to Italy, mainly because every single person I know has been there. My husband and I have a very similar way of thinking: If everybody has been there, we are no longer interested!

We were told Marrakech was a place unlike any other and we were intrigued by the idea of being in Africa for the first time. So we decided to go there for a change ... and what a change it was!

It was a culture shock at first sight! Our hotel (Riad-Atlas) was located at the heart of the Jemaa el-Fna square (I wish I knew who and when that picture in the link was taken because the place does not look that empty) which is a very famous market place in Marrakech. The taxi dropped us off in the middle of the Jemaa el-Fna. Then, by the help of a map, we tried to locate our hotel, but couldn't make sense of the place at all! There were no names on the little streets and a couple of them were written by hand on the walls. It was basically impossible to get there.

Then, a kid (maybe 17 years old) offered to help us. So we started following him. First, we took an alley ... then we turned right into another alley. But when this same process was repeated for the 4th time, we started to get scared. The alleys were empty; there were no tourists in sight. When I turned to see who was following us, I just saw 3 more guys, all local (no tourists). We turned around and said: "sorry, but we are going back to where we started" ... I honestly thought we were about to get robbed! We went back and our guide apologized and brought us a card from the hotel. He asked a girl in one of the stores to join us so that we would feel better. She joined us and the guide was right! The hotel was right where he said it would be.

Of course, all that help was not for free. All of the locals ask for money. So we ended up giving him 40 dirham, which is about 5 US dollars.

The girl was so sweet with us and, even though we did not speak a word of French, I felt like I made a friend. My husband and I decided to go to her store the next day and bought 6 beautiful blouses for us and our family.

The hotel Riad-Atlas was very beautiful. But you would never imagine that from the outside. The only thing that we saw was a door and a big wall and that was it. We never imagined there was a small paradise inside.

At the end of our trip we realized that, compared to the others, it was the most beautiful Riad around.

We started to walk around the city and it was definitely something I've never seen before. Most people were walking, some others were driving vespas, small motorcycles and there were even people in small cars and ALL of us together were going in the same direction. It was a very unusual way to experience chaos. I was waiting for an accident to happen at any minute, but thank God that never happened.

Locals have their own little shops spread throughout the Jemaa el-Fna. However, I felt their personalities to be nice and intrusive at the same time. I know that's their way of doing business, to make a living, but it was annoying at times. The good thing is that we ended up learning a lot about how to negotiate with the locals.

Throughout the day, you can hear the 'Muezzin - Islamic Call to Prayer,' which I think is pretty unique and sounds very enigmatic. However, the best time to listen to it was at 4:40 AM. Our hotel had some mosques near by, so the sound of the muezzin was extraordinary.

Some of our friends that have been in Marrakech advised my husband to never leave me alone or the locals could try to buy me. I don't know where they got that idea from, but for that reason we decided not to go to a mosque because in order to be there, women have to be separated from the men.

We went to some pretty, but empty, interesting museums. Marrakech is all about beautiful architecture. In order to get there, we got lost many times. We tried to follow groups of tourists that we thought were from the US, but I was surprised that all of them were French or from somewhere else. Nobody spoke a word of English or Spanish.

It was quite an adventure, but at the end of the 4 days, I was happy to go back to peaceful Spain.

I found Spain to be very similar to México. I really enjoyed being there, but the time zone changes (9 hours ahead of Pacific Time) and my 5 months pregnancy made the trip a little bit tiring for me. Nonetheless, it was wonderful to have had the opportunity to have been in Spain for the second time. The first time, back in 2005, we went to Oviedo, Asturias and Madrid, and this time we went to Murcia, which is in the south of Spain.

During one of our many conversations, my brother-in-law, who is a brilliant skull base surgeon with tons of honors, and his wife, a family practice doctor, started to mention some paranormal experiences they were having in the building where they live. I was very surprised to hear this from them; I honestly thought they were completely skeptical about this subject. However, the many experiences they have had have left no doubt in their minds that something out of the ordinary is definitely taking place. The place where they live is a brand new building. They bought a beautiful condo there. The only thing that I don't understand is why builders in Spain have such a bad way of planning the spaces. Every single apartment has all these little rooms and super mini elevators. I saw the same thing in Paris, France. I just don't understand!

Anyway, going back to the topic, my brother-in-law and his wife said that they thought they were not the only ones having these problems in the building. Basically, all residents have left the building in a very short period of time. People there simply don't last and since they have no problems with their apartment, other than those particular set of experiences, they wonder why.

On a different occasion, they told us about some of the cities near by that have reported UFO sightings and other paranormal events. I wish I have had the time to go there, but we were very busy most of the time.

I will leave you with some interesting images from Caravaca de la Cruz in Murcia.

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