March 03, 2010

Part 2: Belly Dancing and the Best Thing I've Ever Eaten

On Saturday night, we were taken by bus to "a dinner and a show". That's it. No description. Not knowing what to expect, we decided to dress up a little fancier than our usual jeans and just go with the flow, which seems to be a recurring theme in Morocco. We told scary stories in the lobby while waiting for our tour guide. When he finally arrived half-an-hour later, we hopped on a bus and arrived 10 minutes later in front of a courtyard surrounded by men on horseback.

After taking the obligatory touristy pictures, we were escorted to a large field surrounded by bleachers. Not gonna lie, I was a pretty scared when they turned off the lights, with the scary stories from earlier still fresh in my mind. But the next thing we knew, the men on horseback started charging down the hill with tiki torches in their hands. The got to the bottom of the hill and stopped right in front of us. Waiting for something else to happen, we nervously clapped. Then as fast as they came, they left and returned back up the hill. A minute passed and they returned, running down the hill with lances this time. Again, they stopped in front of us, waited, and retreated back to the hill. They did this several times with different weapons each time. They even came out with old-fashioned guns and were supposed to all shoot them at the same time - but only one guy could get his to shoot! I found out later that it was supposed to represent the Muslims kicking someone out of their territory but none of this was explained to us at the time! We were all thoroughly confused about the whole ordeal when we were told to return back to the banquet area for the rest of our show and dinner.

Running with fire?

And they're gone again...

The dinner consisted of a 4-course mean with typical Moroccan dishes. The first course was bread and soup followed by lemon chicken. The soup and bread were delicious and fresh. The chicken tasted like chicken back in the States but it was still good! The main course was tangini cous-cous with veggies and lamb. Tangini is a method of cooking in Morocco where the meat is placed into a large ceramic pot and then surrounded by vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, and then covered with broth or water. The top is placed on before throwing it over a fire or in an over for hours until the meat becomes tender and the vegetables are soft and flavorable. The yellow cous-cous was equally delicious! The dessert was almond cookies and super yummy mint tea! Drinking Moroccan tea was another thing on our "To Do' list :)

I love that all the food was served family-style! And yes, that is orange Fanta in Arabic cans.

In between courses, we were entertained by different acts such as dancing, singing, a magician, and even kids doing gymnastics. They were so great! After dinner, man wearing a sombrero adorned with flaming candles took the stage. At first he danced and balanced without knocking the candles over. This was impressive enough until he pulled out the big guns and began doing stunts and tricks with the candles, such as balancing a glass on his head and then balancing the hat on top of that and dancing and jumping! He called on a couple volunteers, including two kids from our group. One girl had to shake her hips while balancing a candle on the top of her head. He helped her keep her head straight and she sat back down to a round of applause from the whole audience. The other kid, Aric, was not so lucky; he had to do a somersault while keeping his hand planted on the ground with a candle on top of it. INSANE. He managed to do it with a little (a lot) of help from the performer, who pushed and shoved his head and limbs until he finally got it. Fortunately, he got away with only a few burnt hairs on his arm. But the worst was yet to come.

The final act of the night was an authentic belly dancer. The small band continued to play as the woman shook her hips and wiggled her belly. She balanced a cane on her chest and then on her head - it was all a little weird. But towards the end of her routine she jumped off the stage and pulled Aric back onto the stage, where she continued to rip his shirt off and throw on a skirt and bra!

And so it begins...

And there goes the shirt.


She then paraded him around and put him through the wringer with different moves and dances. I'm still amazed that he made it through with only 2 brewskis in his system. I think it's the sort of thing you can only do with a little liquid courage. Not that I would know...

At least he got a sweet certificate to remember the whole experience. Doesn't he look stoked?

And while this authentic Moroccan meal was muy delicioso, the best thing I ate in Moroccan was by far the McArabia. Yes, we went to McDonald's in Africa, big deal. We figured it was something familiar in that different world. And it was probably safer than trying to find another restaurant!

The McArabia is a new concoction in Morocco that consists of a beef patty seasoned with Moroccan spices, lettuce, tomato and onion with garlicky mayonnaise tucked into a flatbread. I can't even begin to describe the awesomeness of this burger. Oh man, it was the best thing I've ever eaten in McDonald's.

Well, that about wraps up our whirlwind trip to Africa. All in all, I'm glad that I went. It's another experience in my life and I walked away with some great stories to tell. And hopefully my other trips in the next few months will only get better! This time next week, I'll be in Barcelona! I have a list of things to see in Barcelona but I'm totally open to suggestions!

I hope you are all having a wonderful week! I miss you all so much!


Beth said...

Tangini sounds like an Arabian slowcooker. :) So glad you made it back to Spain safely. Counting down the days...

Love you!

Aunt Amy said...

Sounds like you had mixed reactions to the "Dark Continent!". Sorry to hear that Morocco is so dirty and scary. However, I guarantee that you will love London...very clean and safe. Cheerio!