The hotel reservations have been made. The route has been planned. The car is gassed up. The luggage is packed. We have lots of snacks. The kids brought their mp3 players. And we have friends traveling with us. One road trip, two families, seven kids. What could go wrong?
The kids have three days off school for Eid El Mouloud, the festival of the prophet Mohammed's birthday. Chalk one up for the kids. Living overseas means getting Moroccan holidays AND American holidays off school. We pile these lucky kids into our cars and head for the mountains and the fragrant hippy haze that is Chefchaouen where we will spend two nights breathing the cool mountain air.
One advantage of having the boys in your car? Not having to find a bathroom. This will change after the first night in the hotel when one of the boys comes down with the stomach flu. Then it all becomes about the most efficient path to the nearest toilet. And of course it's Sunday and the pharmacy isn't open...
When you have the stomach flu probably the last thing you'd like to see on your plate in the morning is runny scrambled eggs cooked in olive oil with whole garlic cloves, sprinkled with cumin and served with a bay leaf. Personally I kinda dug it. A whole plate and a half worth of it.
The hotel, like most homes in Morocco does not have heat, but does have a big fireplace. Now in my pre-kid life I would have thought staying up in the mountains in a cabin with a fireplace romantic. However, the reality of life with kids is....4 kids + big flames + long hair + fire pokers + embers (and of course Ember herself) = death by inferno, death by smoke inhalation, death by impaling or death by Ember. And choices 1, 2 and 3 are looking pretty good by comparison.
Now the first night the power goes out and is out throughout the entire town for the entire day. And really it's not so bad. Unless you really need an ATM...
Then there's the matter of the sign in the bathroom above the sink. Huh? Does this just apply to the faucet or for all water sources in the bathroom? And certainly if this really meant not to use the water it would be an electric flashing sign telling you not to use it. Oh, but you'd need electricity for that.
We head into town looking for the infamous hat man when we were accosted by an extremely persistent magic man. Oh, that's just Sky...
We find Hat Man.
We all try on hats. Jade wants a hat. Ember wants the exact same hat. Problem is, there are no two hats exactly alike like she wants. I can't convince Ember to select a hat other than the one on Jade's head and then it's time to go. She says adamantly that she doesn't want a hat. But after we leave she cries for 20 minutes that she has no hat.
Then I realize that Agnes and I bought the exact same hat, but in different colors. We look like dorks wearing our hats at the same time. Note to self in the future, call Agnes to make sure she's not wearing the hat so we don't look like 13 year old BFFs. Wait, do we look 13? Hold on. This may solve the Ember problem. Never mind. It won't work. It wouldn't be the same color as Jade's.
What's worse than two grown women being matchy-matchy poo poo? Two men.
The next day we head on to Tetuan for the day. We eat lunch and head out to see the sights. Unfortunately, between the hours of 1-3pm everything, everywhere in Morocco closes. Why did we forget that? Archeology museum closed, medina barren. Right before we leave town we head to the School of Artisans. We get there 10 minutes before it closes. They reluctantly let us in and the security guard gives us a tour. There is beautiful handcrafted that you can't buy because it's closed. And anyway you don't have any money because the ATMs don't work anyway remember?
So we drive on to Asilah, a quaint beach-side town south of Tangier where we'll stay another two nights. It's Valentine's day. At least I think it is. We arrive in the evening and we go out for a late dinner with the kids. Since we're in North Morocco and close to Spain they have Paella. Yum! Small hole in the wall cafe with 7 tired, fidgety kids with paella and wine? Must be Valentine's Day, cause that's as romantic as it gets travelling with kids!
The next morning it's drizzly and cold, but we start driving north to the caves of Tangier and hope that it clears up. The rain only gets heavier and heavier until we can barely see the cars ahead of us. And it becomes abundantly clear that the only place to go is home. This is the picture of one of the most beautiful beaches in Morocco I got from the car window on the way back to Rabat...