My fellow bloggers, I am sorry It seems like I have yet again abandoned you. With the end of the school year, finals and lots of goodbyes, my blog did not make the cut for one of my top priorities. This was since I knew I could catch up on blogging once I returned home but I could not visit the duomo or talk with Italians on the daily when I would return home, so the duomo and the Italians became my priority prior to my departure. The wait is over though, as I am now home. I arrived back home about one week ago which I will talk about in future posts. For now, I will talk about my trip to Morocco.
Africa has always been a place I have hoped to travel to. I know I have said this in almost every post thus far, but this is different. Growing up in a western culture, I have been sheltered from other cultures, especially cultures that are not influenced by Christianity. Seeing this new culture was both incredible and shocking. But, did I love it? Of course. I hope to return again someday.
It may sound crazy, but not only did I go to Africa, I went for less than 40 hours. How did this happen? Well, due to strange flight schedules since it is not peak tourist season, not many flights go between Florence and Africa. But, this is besides the point. When you think “Morocco” what comes to mind? Coming into this trip, I did not really know what to expect with Morocco or with this Islamic country. But, as you will soon discover, I found Morocco to be a vibrant, interesting city, with many caring individuals. No I cannot speak Arabic or French, so communication was not easy, but some people did know English which helped substantially.
You may also question, is Morocco safe right now? Well, in researching prior to my trip to this exotic country, I found Morocco to be surprisingly safe. In North Africa, many countries actually look to Morocco and their safety precautions. So, of course it was a risk going to Africa, but there is also a risk in walking the streets of Florence, danger is everywhere, but Morocco’s security and police officers that covered Marrakech’s city limits definitely added to my feelings of security. All in all, though it does not take much to make me feel safe, I did feel safe during most of my time in the beautiful country.
I traveled to Morocco with four other girls Katie, British, Alyssa and Mallory. We headed to Milan early on Friday morning and arrived in Marrakech around 2pm. During my flight I met a sweet girl and her father who were both from Morocco yet lived in Italy. They were so friendly and kind, so the trip had a great start. After getting through customs we headed to our hotel. After we checked in, we headed over to the sooks, which are huge markets near a large, very crowded plaza. The architecture was very different from anything I had ever seen with the grand mosques and bright colors. The plaza area was crowded with drummers, dancers, flute playing snake charmers, women doing henna temporary tattoos (I got two), food, clothing and trinket vendors and many exotic animals, including monkeys. Walking through the loud, smoke-filled plaza with various vendors trying to catch your attention, was exciting, it was exactly what I had imagined an African city would have been like.
We ate at an adorable restaurant in the plaza where I got vegetable cous cous and mango juice and Morocco’s signature green tea all for under six euro. The food was simple but my favorite thus far in my travels! After our lunch we then ventured for a few hours in the sooks. The sooks were filled with bright blankets, jewelry, gem-covered shoes, painted pottery and various other fun things. We actually happened to bump into other Pepperdine students (who are studying in Lausanne) while we were walking through the sooks, it was such a special experience!
On our final day in Morocco, we decided to do a camel tour ride outside of the city. Before consenting, I researched the companies and I found one that many customers claimed treated the camels well. I was surprised to find the camels were treated well but I still felt a little guilty riding them. It was a really special experience though, going through the palm desert on camels. We even stopped half way through and were given traditional Moroccan toasted bread with honey and mint tea.
After our camel tour we walked through the sooks one last time, it was increadible. We also visited various museums, a crypt, and even a mosque. Everything was bright and colorful, it was a whirlwind of excitement for me. We were even able to hear the call for prayer one last time as we walked through the city before our flight.
Visiting Morocco was a dream and I cannot wait to return one day. There are so many places to explore in this world and so many cultures to learn about. I cannot wait to see more and to widen my perspective and worldview. I hope and pray that all of these experiences I have been blessed with will teach me to be more loving and accepting of those around me, especially with my occupation in the future. Until then, I will love with all I have and live in thankfulness for all I have been given. I challenge you to do the same. We don’t have to travel to Africa to learn to love and respect others for their different cultures, we’re all unique being and there are endless opportunities right outside our doorstep, but will we pursue them and open ourselves up to love and acceptence? That is the question. Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and love.