First of all, I'd like to say that the Moroccan people we met were friendly and generous to us. Other than being a little uncomfortable at times due to unfamiliar circumstances, I never felt that our personal security was at risk. Even last night, as we walked through the Fes medina after dinner, I always felt there were people around who would help if there was any problem. I don't think it was any more dangerous than walking at night in any big North American city.
In terms of Marrakech, I'm glad we went, but I don't have any interest in ever going back. It's overly touristy and the vendors are very pushy. That's not fun for anyone, but especially not for an avowed anti-shopper like me! The other things we saw there can be found in any Moroccan city.
As I've written previously, Essaouira was wonderful. Being on the ocean was a great advantage, but we also liked the motorcycle-free, small-city feel. There's also lots to see in the region surrounding the city if you have time to explore. I'd happily return, rent a condo and car, and stay a few weeks.
Fes is a big city like Marrakech, but the central medina was far more exotic than anything Marrakech could offer. As we walked through the souks (especially with our guide), I felt like we had been transported back in time. There were hundreds of craftsmen working in tiny shops. We learned that retail merchants from all over Morocco buy things wholesale to sell back in their hometowns. Most of the vendors ignored us, and went about their business. There are a few touristy streets, but they are the minority. I think that's partly because you have to be a pretty brave tourist to even get to the heart of the Fes medina. I'll bet many tourists get overwhelmed and intimidated, and retreat to the relative familiarity of Fes' 19th century nouveau ville, never really seeing what's there in the belly of the beast.
Beyond these three places, I wish we had been able to visit Berber villages in the Atlas mountains and the Sahara sand dunes in the interior. Both sound authentic and amazing. As such, I'm looking forward to hearing detailed accounts from Jenn and Rodney from their visit to those two areas.
In conclusion, I would say that Morocco is a worthwhile destination that deserves more than a week or ten days. I could spend several weeks exploring all it has to offer. I'm not saying it's easy, but it is worthwhile. For example, George and Molly got to see for the first time how most people on this planet live - not in comfortable wealth, but not in extreme poverty either. There's lots of noise, and garbage, and dust, and building, and activity. Switzerland it's not!
Tonight, as we walked the streets of chic Barcelona on our way to dinner, it was obvious that we are back in a first-world country. Even though Spain is close to Morocco geographically and historically, in other ways it's actually closer to Canada. And that's an interesting observation that could only be made after our Moroccan visit. The adventure continues...