Morocco: Accidents Happen

Quiet Casablanca street
Photo not actual street of accident

A useful tip in traveling is — Know and save emergency numbers. Always be prepared and save useful numbers in your contacts —  emergency response number, embassy number, insurance number.  Especially when you do not know anyone.

Traveling can be fun. Relocating to a new country can be interesting. Getting into an accident in a foreign country where nobody knows and understands you is scary. 

I was hit by a motorcycle while crossing the road alone at Casablanca. After the impact I was unconscious and nobody helped me. I was crying in pain alone. People only looked at me lying in the middle of the street. Not even the motorcycle driver who hit me moved to help. I caused traffic. Car drivers were honking not showing any concern. Nobody helped. I tried to stand but cannot. So crawled to the side. I was feeling dizzy, cannot stand, bruised, back and neck were in pain. I did not know if something is broken.

At that moment I know no one will help me but myself. When I was able to sit down at the side of the road someone gave me betadine for my bruise. The Careem (like Uber) driver was calling the police. I just wanted to go back home and see a doctor. The police was taking to long to arrive, I don’t want to wait at the road and file a police report. Nobody was helping and I want to know if I am fine with no severe damage. I felt like vomiting, half of my body was painful. I have a hematoma bulging as big as an egg on my leg.

It is in Moroccan education not to move someone during a street accident. They have their reason — that it could be a spine injury and better not to move. But at that moment I could not stay lying in the middle of the street with people only looking at me. In the past, I have witnessed some pedestrians hit by a vehicle — an old man and, a mother with her baby. I am also guilty of not helping. Thinking others will help anyway. Never imagined it could be me alone in the middle of a small street somewhere in Africa.

Morocco: Casablanca Sandstorm

First Sandstorm experience in Casablanca Morocco felt like being in an end of the world movie. Currently having a global pandemic and the skies suddenly turned heavy dark orange.

Casablanca Morocco sky turned orange due to sandstorm. October 2020.

Sands from Sahara desert has reached as far as Casablanca and even further north of Morocco.

October 20, 2020 . Around 3:00 PM in the afternoon at Casablanca I noticed the sky has turned dark with a very orange hue. Thinking that it is only rain clouds coming. However, the temperature was unusually warm even with strong winds. Normally in Casablanca when the sky is gray with strong wind the temperature drops, but not this time. The previous day was colder but today was notably warmer. Towards 4:00 PM the sky looked heavier and more orange, winds started to be stronger and noticed sand-like dusts blowing by the street. The mouth starts to feel dry, throat chalky and eyes itchy. So, this is what a sandstorm feels like. Closed all the windows and doors and looked down at the floor seeing covered in dust.

Dusts from Casablanca Morocco sandstorm
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October 21, 2020. The next day all surface in the apartment feels dusty, my skin feels dusty, my throat feels dusty. My infant’s nose is full of black dirt. My nose is filled with the dame black dirt. I feel the same in my throat – dry and dusty.

The winds in the Sahara desert is blowing strong and the sandstorm has reached as far as Casablanca located at the west coast of the Morocco. Most of Morocco has experienced the sandstorm including Marrakech, Essaouira, Rabat, Ouarzazarte and other cities are all covered in sand from the Sahara desert.

This sandstorm is happening while being locked down in the city with a curfew during a world pandemic. WTF 2020

Morocco: Ouazzane

Travel to Ouazzane, Morocco if you are going to Chefcheouen and you like dried figs, dates and have an authentic Moroccan robe souvenir. Stop by Ouazzane to have a quiet and peaceful time away from the tourist.

Ouazzane is a province north of Morocco. It is near the more popular city of Morocco – Chefcheouen. Ouazzane is a small agricultural and artisan area. The artisans in Ouazzane weave and sew traditional Moroccan clothes that are long dresses with long sleeves. Best souvenir to buy in Ouazzane are dried fruits such as dates and fig which are done in the area and are very cheap. Other places in Morocco buy the cheap dried fruits and traditional clothes in Ouazzane and resell it at a higher price.

The province of Ouazzane is very religious and no alcoholic drinks are allowed. It is a very laid back province. Small streets at the Medina of Ouazzane are colored green giving its own unique charm.

Ouazzane, Morocco-2

What to buy in Ouazzane

Dried Fruits

Figs and dates are very cheap to buy in Ouazzane. These delicacies which are expensive in other areas. Ouazzane is the best place to go if you like sweet dried figs and dates.

  • Dried prunes
  • Dates
  • Dried Figs

Traditional Moroccan Clothes

Ouazzane is an artisan place of handwoven fabrics which are handsewn and embroidered into robes and dresses. the dresses and robes are long with long sleeves which can be worn during summer and winter. If you are looking for a souvenir of authentic handwoven and handmade traditional Moroccan clothes, Ouazzane is a good area to visit.

How to go to Ouazzane

Train-Bus

  • Take the ONCF train and go down at Souk Al Abraa station. If you are booking online select the station to Chefchaouen.
  • There is a connecting (Supratour) bus from the train. You can pay the connecting bus directly from train booking.
  • Take the bus going to Chefcheouen and go down at Ouazzane.

Bus

Another option to go to Ouazzane is by bus. There is the main bus station in Ouazzane that goes to Casablanca and vice-versa. Buses also go to Tangier.

Check previous post on Morocco: Public Transportation

Where to stay in Ouazzane

Ouazzane is not a tourist area. There are not many hotel options. Near the plaza area, there are some hotels. The hotels are small and basic, only offering a bedroom and toilet to stay for the night. There provide service, no restaurant, and no amenities in the hotel

Travel Tips

Good Points

  • There are no annoying freelance tourist guides offering their service
  • Taxi drivers are honest and fair – not giving a foreign rate
  • Experience a quiet authentic Moroccan town with no touristy frills

Not-So-Good-Points

  • Not many choices for hotels. There are only basic low standard hotels that do not serve breakfast, no room service, no wi-fi, no amenities. Think of basic rooms with bed and toilet for rent per night.
  • Not much choice for restaurants. There are only local spots to eat Moroccan dishes such as tajine and kebab.

Ouazzane Morocco

Game of Thrones film location at Morocco

Essos of Game of Thrones film location at Morocco

Travelling Asian goes to Game of Thrones film location in Morocco.

Game of Thrones is a medieval fictional series of families from different continents battling for the throne to rule the Seven Kingdoms. One of the Seven Kingdoms is Essos, an area depicted in the series as desert-like, where Daenerys (Dragon Queen) built her army.

Game of Thrones season is ending May, 2019. Fans of the show can still relive their favorite moments at film locations of Game of Thrones. Fans of Game of Thrones have their favorite families or households. Those who are rooting for Daenerys or #TeamTargaryen would be happy to relive their favorite scenes at Essos.

There are several film location for Essos of Game of Thrones. Two of the film locations are in Morocco which are in Ait Ben Haddou and Essouira.

 

Photo from https://gameofthrones.fandom.com/

The Game of Thrones film location at Ait Ben Haddou is portrayed as Slaver’s Bay (Bay of Dragon) in the series. This location was used in the episode where Daenerys freed the Unsullied (slave) army.

What to See at Ait Ben Haddou, Morocco

Ait Ben Haddou became a popular tourist destination for fans of Game of Thrones. Other popular films shot at Ait Ben Haddou are Gladiator, Prince of Persia and The Mummy.

Another good reason to visit Ait Ben Haddou is that it is a UNESCO world heritage site representing the traditional earthen habitat of Morocco, built from the 17th century.

The Ksar (fortified village) of Ait Ben Haddou is made of mud and straw. Surrounded by towers and walls at the outer part to protect the homes inside. It used to be a caravan route of nomads travelling from Sahara desert, east Africa. The caravan used to stop at Ait Ben Haddou for rest and trade. At the moment, there are still few families living inside Ait Ben Haddou.

First impression upon seeing Ait Ben Haddou is that it looks like a giant sand castle. Moving closer and inside you would see the intricate designs of the towers and walls.

The structure is huge to fit in a village. The dwellings are small spaces, next to each other.

 

How to Go to Ait Ben Haddou from Marrakesh

Ait Ben Haddou is located at the province of Ouarzazate. There are a lot of buses going to Ouarzazate from Marrakesh. The most common bus is CTM with more available schedule. I prefer to use Supratour as it has more space and more comfortable. Cost of Supratour bus fare from Marrakesh to Ouarzazate is 80 Moroccan Dirhan (approximately 8 US Dollars). CTM bus fare is usually cheaper.

Approximate travel time from Marrakesh to Ouarzazate is 4 hours. Bus schedules are only during the morning until before noon. The route will traverse the Atlas mountains with an amazing view.

Where to Stay

There are a lot of hotel options at the town center of Ourazazate. I heard there are also some small hotels and riads around Ait Ben Haddou.

I recommend to stay at the town center of Ouarzazate as there are other things to visit such as the Kasbah, film museum and Atlas studio.

Travel Tips

  • Rent a Taxi. If you are staying for a few days at Ourzazate and want to visit interesting places around. You do not need to book a tour. Price of a tour will be double or more. There are several taxis parked near the CTM bus station. Price to rent a taxi for a day to Ait Ben Haddou and Atlas Studio is 300 Moroccan Dirham or approximately 30 US Dollars.
  • Tour guide is not necessary unless you are keen to know the history of Ait Ben Haddou. One and a half hour is enough to enjoy the place.
  • Home visit fee. There are still some families living in Ait Ben Haddou. Some will offer to show their home for a fee. If you accidentally go inside and start “exploring” their home, some home visit fee will be expected.

Morocco: Spider Bite

Morocco has several spiders, bugs and insects that could be found in the city. Common house spiders in Morocco could bite.   House spiders in Morocco are not all harmless. The spider could crawl into your clothing or bedding and can bite. House spider are not deadly but if bitten and not treated it could spread infection. If spider bite infection is left untreated it could be eventually be threatening. 

Spiders are common in Morocco, and they tend to go inside the house when the weather outside is too hot.

I had a bad experience of spider bite in Morocco. The spider bite was not life threatening but definitely painful.

I do not usually want to post unflattering photos of (parts of) me. However, I am sharing this as it could be useful for someone else. 

Spiders in Morocco

I am not sure of exactly what kind of spider bit me. The spider was small and brown that I often see in the garden and some enter the apartment.  When I realized it was a spider bite I started to do research on spiders in Morocco and these are what I found. The following are the spiders that I have seen at gardens, apartment, offices, riads, shops, and around.  I am not an expert of spiders and only sharing what I see and know.

Common spiders in cities in Morocco.

1.Brown recluse spider

Image result for Brown recluse spider

 

Brown with longer legs compared to wolf spider.

Image from Wikemedia

 

 

2. Wolf Spider

Hogna lenta 18.jpg

 

Brown, small like a button with short legs and distinct dark marking at the back.

Image from Wikepedia

 

3. Jumping Spider

Jumping Spider

 

Brown – grayish, small. And it jumps!

Image from www.entomology.ca.uky.edu

 

Brown recluse spider and wolf spider are my top suspects for my spider bite.

Brown recluse spider, wolf spiders and jumping spider are the spiders commonly seen outside and inside homes and buildings in Morocco.

4. Black House Spider

Big Black Spider - Amaurobius ferox - female

 

Black, small and with long feet at front. I have seen this type of spider mostly at the garden or outside.

Image from https://bugguide.net/

 

5. Common House Spider

Parasteatoda tepidariorum

Brown with long legs. Distinct large bulge body compared to the head. This spider goes inside the house and buildings.

Image from Fyn Kynd / Flickr / CC By 2.0

 

6. Black Widow

Black with some long legs in front and back. Distinct red mark at back.

I have never seen a black widow spider inside homes or buildings. Rare few times spotted it by the garden. Maybe in the kitchen once.

Image from www.lvpest.com/

The “Suspect Spider”

20180515_080042_edited.jpg

 

This is an actual photo of a similar spider that I think bit me.  The photo is not clear. It is small, dark brown to black with a white stripe at the back.

Small and terrible.

 

 

Morocco Spider Bite Experience & Healing

At first I thought it was a hive, a small red bump on the skin that I ignored. When it did not went away within the day then I thought it was a regular bug bite. I was thinking it will still easily heal but it did not. The spider bite got bigger and more painful each day. I started to feel body pain and sensitivity around the bite. Lesion started to appear with a deep red center.  The spider bite looked like a hole –  think of a volcano crater and you can see red flesh inside. Not knowing it was a spider bite I was only applying skin antiseptic. The spider bite wound got bigger each day. More painful. I was experiencing flu like symptoms with body pain and weakness.

I was only able to take photos  of the spider bite when it started to be disturbingly painful.

 

Spider bite wound progress

Stage 1 – Red bulge like hive. No pain. No itch. First day

Stage 2 – Red bulge start to be painful but no discomfort. Second day.

Stage 3 – Red bulge start to be hard and erupt. Between second and third day.

Stage 4 – Crater like wound. After the third day the pain start to be disturbing.

Second week of spider bite. Wound looks like a growing crater.

 

Necrosis or crater like wound developed. I was applying skin antiseptic at this point.  The spider bite looked like this for the next 1-2 weeks. The red flesh was hard and deep. The infection was getting bigger and deeper. At this point I was having flu like symptoms of body pain, feverish, weakness and feeling cold. 

 

 

 

Stage 5 – Puss start to go out.

20180515_143148_edited

 

After 2-3 days of applying antibiotic cream from which the pharmacist recommended. Puss started to go out the spider bite.

It was still painful.

 

Stage 6 – Crater like hole starts to be more small and shallow.

20180517_103356_edited

 

Within 1 week of applying antibiotic. Spider bite wound still looks like a crater. The puss lessened.  The spider bite wound started to be smaller.

 

 

Stage 7 – It does not look like a crater anymore.

20180518_114917_edited

 

The spider bite now looks like large infected pimple. Definitely more shallow and the red hard flesh inside is not visible anymore.

 

 

Healing Period. 

Total healing period until the wound closed was 1 – 2 months. The scar looks like a brown spot.

Luckily my spider bite did not get much bigger. I was able to apply proper medicine on time. If you search spider bite photos online, there are some that looks like rotten flesh.  You can easily imagine that a flesh eating monster caused it and not a small spider.

 

Morocco Spider Bite Medicine

I showed to the pharmacist the photo of stage 4 spider bite. The pharmacist asked if I have fever, which I did not, and gave me an antibiotic cream.

20190227_235506_edited.jpg

 

Fucidine 2% ointment worked within a week results showed. After 2 weeks I was not feeling any pain.

 

 

Morocco Spider Bite Precautions

  • Shake off clothes and shoes before wearing. Specially if it has been stored for a long period.
  • Fluff and shake off bedding and pillow before going to bed
  • Commercial pesticides and organic DIY pesticides do not help. I tried most of it.

If you know an effective anti-spider that does not require overhauling the house please tell me!

 

Morocco Emergency Contacts

  • Poison Control Center : 05337-777-185
  • Ambulance Inter secours assistance : 0522-27-27-27
  • Ambulance SAMU / SOS Medicins Maroc : 0522-25-25-25