The camel’s lashes drew closer and closer as he slid into sleep; my seven-year-old daughter Julie rubbed his curly-haired head as he drifted into dreams upon the sand.
My son Ben, ten, was sure he saw Jedi knights in the twisting alleyways of Morocco’s medinas, for the men’s jelebas (cloaks) looked a lot like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s.
These are memories from our Kids in the Kasbahs trip. When traveling with children, the world becomes full of wonder.
As a travel writer, I love experiencing different cultures and landscapes and my husband Mike and I wanted to share this love with our kids. We sensed traveling in Morocco would be ideal for imbibing our senses and exposing our kids to a part of the planet they’d never been before.
Mohamed would be our guide for the next week, leading 13 of us on a circuit from Marrakech over the High Atlas mountains to Ifergane and the Atlantic coast.
A minibus took us from Marrakech’s arid flats into the mountains. We threaded our way up the road, built at the mercy of the mountains’ contours, until we came to the Tizi-N-Test pass (2,093m). Huge views of banana plantations and orange orchards appeared in the distance.
At Ifergane the landscape became dry, with ancient dust sifted through centuries into a fine powder. Gnarly argan trees (where the famous oil comes from) punctuated scrubby fields and we saw goats climbing up their limbs.
Mohamed led us to a riad built around a central courtyard of palms. The group settled into the private nooks and crannies, reading at mosaic tables and sipping coffee on porches while the kids explored the adjoining orange orchard.
Next day we headed to an oasis where Mohamed secured donkeys. Soon we’d moved past the village’s pink walls into the shade of massive fig trees. It felt cool, tinted blue beneath the fronds. The earth was irrigated by natural springs and cultivated with alfalfa and mint.
Agadir and Essaouria
Women in hijab ran into the Atlantic, laughing and letting the water soak their skirts. Boys played soccer on the sand, and a little Moroccan girl planted a kiss on Mike’s beard. Agadir was our first taste of the ocean.
But the highlight was Essaouria. We rode camels along the shore, teetering as they leaned forward, then lurched to standing. Their toes splayed as we balanced on woolen blankets and as I looked towards Mogodor Island I wondered, just maybe, if Cat Stevens might be hiding out there, living the simple life.
Traveling with kids opened us to experiences we wouldn’t have had as boring adults. Local kids would kick around Ben’s soccer ball with him, connecting us to the people, and we almost lost Julie to a band of wandering musicians as she danced to the beat of a their drums and bells. Morocco’s images are now branded into the kids’ memories like a beautiful tapestry, and my husband and I got to see Morocco’s diversity through the children’s open eyes.
Morocco photos c/o Jane Marshall, Flickr