Featured Travelers: Ivan and Mark from Puerto Vallarta

Ivan and Mark live in Puerto Vallarta, and then part-time in New Orleans. They had heard good things about our Morocco vacation from their friends who took our tour last year. They decided to come see for themselves why this trip is so special, and we are certainly glad they did!

Zoom: What was it about this part of the world that drew you?

Mark: Morocco has a mystique that has intrigued us both. Modern Arab Berber Culture without the perceived dangers in other Middle East Arab countries.  Dining at the nostalgic Ricks on night one sets the stage in Casablanca for the rest of this adventure into Morocco.

Zoom: Did you have any concerns about the trip before taking the tour?

Mark: Any misplaced concerns we had were with security. However, not once did we feel that our security was threatened. As a matter of fact, we were made to feel at home with all of the Moroccans that we met. Especially welcoming was the potter who gave me the pottery lesson in Arte de Pottrie. 

Zoom: How was it, traveling as part of a gay group?  Was it what you expected?

Ivan: Fortunately for all of us our travel group was very compatible. The group dynamics was excellent and we loved the fact that it was only 16 people! Needless to say, it was extremely comforting that Bryan lead this group. Bryan is a gregarious, confident leader that helped to make this a most wonderful adventure for everyone in their own individual way when necessary.  What also speaks volumes about the clientele of Zoom is that two couples in our group met 12 years ago on a Zoom Vacations tour and continue a friendship to this very today.  We think we will have that same experience with new friends from this trip.

Zoom: How were the group dynamics? Was it helpful having one of the owners of Zoom Vacations on the tour?

Mark: Yes, it was definitely a good mix of singles and couples. Or better described as an incredible group of amazing, kind, patient, and fun gay men. Having the group WhatsApp Chat was a brilliant idea during the trip and a way to connect later.

Zoom: What was the highlight of the tour?

Ivan: The highlight was definitely the Sahara Desert and the friendships we established. The Sahara is mystical, beautiful, and serene all at the same time. Everyone in their jellaba’s riding into the sunset on camelback was the icing on the cake or in the words of our fun guide, Awwwwwesome!  One of the comments we received from the group shot on camelback was “looks like a scene from the Sex in the City movie.”

Zoom: What was something you learned while in Morocco?

Mark: The most important take-home for us was the combination of the Berber, Muslim, and Jewish history in this wonderful country of Morocco.  In addition, seeing the craftsmen in the production of rugs, pottery, and fossil sculpture.  Touring Atlas Studios was great fun!  Didn’t realize how many films are shot there.

Zoom: How was Morocco different than you expected?

Ivan: Morocco exceeded our expectations in so many ways.  The accommodations were some of the best Morocco has to offer, the planned meals were outstanding, the alcohol stop was necessary, and a great tour guide. Major kudos to the travel schedule.  In order to cover so much of the country in so few days, the bus was the best.  Timing our stops and lunch along the way made the long travel days quite pleasant.  Not to mention having the snack pack on board!

Zoom: Did you feel that our gay group was accepted by those who we met?

Mark: Being part of a gay travel group in Morocco only enhanced the quality of this trip. We felt as respected as any other tourist. Not one time did we experience homophobia. Much to the contrary we felt totally relaxed in this Muslim country.  What could be more welcoming than the impromptu words of your friend, our hotel concierge Saida on our last night? (paraphrased):

“First, I am female, second, I am Arab, third, I am Muslim, forth I am black, I am African 5th, we are all different ethnic things, we don’t care who you are, me I’m happy with who you are, and who am I to judge anyone? The most important thing is human contact. We don’t care if you are Gay, Black Jew, Muslim, or Christian.  In the Koran we are taught to share, love, and to respect. We start with ourselves and then we respect others”

Zoom:  Where would you like to go next with Zoom Vacations?

Ivan: Mark and I would next like to visit India with Zoom Vacations in 2025

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