Cuban Rhythms with Randy Lewis
An amalgamation of colors, cultures and sounds greets all who travel to Morocco, a country at the crossroads of Europe and Africa. On this eight-day journey, see the beauty and culture of Morocco through the eyes of its women as you learn about how the country is taking steps toward gender equality. Visit the Amal Association, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of disadvantaged women through restaurant training and job placement. Meet with local female artists, activists, business owners and teachers to understand the past and discover the future of women’s roles in Moroccan culture. Visit the regal cities of Rabat, Marrakesh and Essaouira as you discover cultural highlights such as Jemaa el-Fna, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Hassan Tower, intended to be the tallest minaret in the world when construction started in the 12th century. Through it all, discover the wonder and enchantment of Morocco as you hear about its past and learn about its steps toward a brighter tomorrow.
Sep 13-20, 2020
Prepare lunch and eat with organizers at the Amal Association, a nonprofit focused on providing culinary experiences to disadvantaged women.
Venture into the High Atlas Mountains to visit an all-girls school and meet teachers and students whose lives have been changed by education.
Lunch with a local women’s rights activist and hear about the struggles women in Morocco still face in the 21st century.
Tour the celebrated Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rabat to see pieces by Moroccan women and dine with a local female artist.
Arrive in Morocco on individual flights and transfer to your hotel in downtown Casablanca. Meet your L.A. Times host, Megan Stack, and fellow L.A. Times travelers for a brief orientation before departing for lunch at a seaside restaurant. Afterward, tour Casablanca, the bustling economic capital of Morocco. Begin with a guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque, which has the world’s tallest minaret. Next wander through the Habous Quarter. Originally built by the French to try to solve the city’s housing problem, it is today a vibrant world of vendors and markets. Return to your hotel for your welcome reception and dinner, where you will be joined by a local Moroccan activist. (L, D)
Today leave Casablanca for Rabat, Morocco’s capital city and home of its monarch. Visited sites include the Hassan Tower, intended to be the tallest minaret in the world when construction started in the 12th century, and Dar al-Makhzen, the official residence of the King of Morocco. Continue to lunch, where the head of a local non-governmental organization will join our group to discuss women’s rights and the modern age in Morocco. After lunch, journey to the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art for a guided tour through the collection, with a focus on pieces contributed by women artists from Morocco and abroad. Return to Casablanca this afternoon and enjoy dinner tonight with a local female artist. (B, L, D)
Depart today for Marrakesh, the former capital of the Moroccan Kingdom nestled in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Have lunch together at the hotel upon your arrival, then head out for a walking tour of the historic medina of Marrakesh. Explore the Bahia Palace and gardens and visit the former Ben Youssef Madrasa to see examples of 14th-century Moroccan architecture. Admire the exterior of the Koutoubia Mosque, the largest in the city, and end your tour in Jemaa el-Fna, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Filled with snake charmers, magicians, musicians and food purveyors, this wondrous square is one of the busiest in Africa. Tonight enjoy a traditional Moroccan dinner of tagine and couscous, accompanied by Gnaoua music, in the heart of the old medina. (B, L, D)
Start the day with a visit to the Majorelle Garden, a 12-acre botanical garden in the heart of Marrakesh. This garden, most commonly associated with Yves Saint Laurent after he saved it from becoming a hotel, was created by painter Jacques Majorelle over a 40-year period. Next travel to the Amal Association, a nonprofit organization focused on providing culinary experiences to disadvantaged women. Meet with the members of the association and help them prepare lunch. You will then sit down to eat what you’ve created alongside your cohosts. Afterward, return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure or visit a traditional hammam. This evening, gather for a talk by journalist Megan Stack on gender segregation in the Arab world, then attend a reception hosted by a European woman currently living in Morocco and learn about her experiences as an expat. Dine tonight as a group. (B, L, D)
Today venture into the High Atlas Mountains in 4x4s for a full-day excursion. See the rarely visited Kasbah Telouet, the former seat of power of the El Glaoui family, once one of the country’s most powerful and richest families and now considered little more than traitors to Morocco. Visit an all-girls school and meet with teachers to discuss what opportunities there are for women in the area. Return to Marrakesh where dinner is on your own tonight. (B, L)
This morning, meet the administrators of a women-run orphanage and learn about family life in Morocco and the role of women within Moroccan culture. Depart for Essaouira and stop for lunch along the way. Visit a women’s cooperative that produces Argan oil — derived from the nut of the Argan tree, which grows naturally only in Morocco — and hear about its business. This oil is used throughout Morocco and around the world as a nighttime moisturizer, acne remedy or leave-in hair conditioner. Upon your arrival in Essaouira, formerly a Portuguese stronghold called Mogador, tour the city then enjoy a talk by your journalist-host on women in Islam. Dine together as a group this evening. (B, L, D)
Spend your morning at leisure as you continue to explore the town of Essaouira. This windy city, whose name translates to “little fortress,” is protected by 18th-century seafront ramparts called Skala de la Kasbah. Stroll through the medina to see the various artisan shops, galleries and stores, some of which are underneath the ancient city ramparts. Enjoy lunch on your own at one of the many restaurants offering fresh seafood, then depart for Safi, where you will visit a women-run pottery workshop before heading back to Casablanca. Enjoy one last dinner as a group tonight. (B, D)
After breakfast, transfer to the Casablanca airport for individual flights home. (B)