Part of my study abroad program involved a weekend trip to Morocco, Africa! It was amazing, and we even visited four cities in three days so we we’re able to see a lot! But there’s so much to say that I can’t fit into an adequate post so I’m just covering the highlights here.
Once we arrived we were led on a tour of the medina (old city) which is where vendors sell everything possible in the tiny twisting alleyways. They led us to an old home- that looked like a palace- and served us Moroccan mint tea (YUM) and cookies (MORE YUM).
This was by far my favorite city visited in Morocco. It’s known as the blue city of Morocco and is a popular tourist spot for Europeans. I don’t blame them; this place is a feast for the eyes. Blue is painted everywhere: all the walls, doors, and even some floors. It was originally painted blue by the Jewish population living there as a way to ward off bad spirits. (There are many theories on why the city is painted blue, but this is the one my tour guide gave us, and as he was born and raised there, I think he is trustworthy).
So the medina here is basically a maze, and since everything is blue it all looks the same. So naturally some friends and I got completely lost trying to find our hotel. But getting lost turned into one of the highlights for me since we got to see even more of the city, that we may not have otherwise. Plus we had a funny conversation with one of the vendors who noticed that we had passed his shop twice now (turns out we were walking in circles). He basically said that if fate should bring us back to him, we were meant-to-be since he’s single. Pretty funny guy, but I realized that the people here (though they try and rip you off when buying something) are super friendly.
On our way to Tangier, the program director surprised our group with a camel ride! It was a pretty short ride to be honest but it was still an experience. I now know the uncomfortable ways of camel rides haha.
Most touching moment of the whole trip: (warning this gets deep real quick)
In addition to visiting the cities, we had the opportunity to talk with some locals. Specifically, some locals who run a NGO that focuses on helping immigrants. We heard both from the leaders of the NGO and some immigrants in the program. As I am also studying African Immigration (I’m taking two humanities courses), this was super impactful for me to not only read literature about this topic but actually hear from the people who are living it. Two things really affected me during this time.
First: we asked the immigrants what their goals were in leaving home to immigrate somewhere new. One man’s answer stuck with me: he said he just wants to reach the time when he’ll have a peaceful spot to rest his head at night. This made me realize how much I take for granted; for I have that, yet I’m striving for more. In America, I feel like we are raised in a culture of quantity, which creates a constant want for more instead of appreciating what we already have.
Second: even here they had heard about the very recent African American shooting (Alton Sterling). Honestly, I think they knew more about it than I did, as I was just getting caught up on the news the night before. They asked us why these things happen in America and I was at a loss for words; embarrassed and ashamed. Thankfully, my professor stepped in and explained that well, there’s no good reason and gave some details about the complicated matter. My heart is heavy with injustice. This is why I stand firm behind #blacklivesmatter, because of course all lives matter but we need to focus on and show support to the black ones right now.