MOROCCO

October 11, 2012 - Chefchaouen, Morocco

Hi!  I know it has been a really long time since I have posted, and I have so much to tell you all, but I have just been so busy lately I haven’t had time to write.  I am going to try and catch up this weekend, and I am just going to start where I left off, with Morocco four weeks ago.

My trip to Morocco was incredible, and there are so many stories, but I will have to settle with just talking about the highlights here.  What really made the difference was the program that I went on the trip with, and all of the experiences I got to have because of them.  They gave us the opportunity to actually talk to Moroccans, and not just one, but so many and it is through those discussions that I learned so much about myself and my country.  It is kind of strange to think that I learned about my country while being in another country, but I really did.  We had a discussion with these two Moroccans who help out with the Moroccan Exchange Program all about politics, but not only the politics of their country, the politics of ours.  They were so knowledgeable on the candidates running for presidency and had valid points to support the candidate they wanted to win.  I felt so ignorant, yes I knew about the candidates running for presidency, but they explained their point of view based on the US’s relations with the Middle East.  The whole thing was very eye opening and I realized I really didn’t know what effect the US has on international problems, or the ways the US has dealt with international problems in the past.  The actions of our president greatly affect the way foreigners view our nation and our people.

I also had the opportunity to stay with a host family the only problem was that while we spoke Spanish and English, they spoke French and Arabic.  It was then that I realized that Morocco was the first country I have been to where the main language was neither English or Spanish.  We were left to communicate through sign language, and a mix of the other four.  The food was so delicious, as it has been everywhere I have visited.  We had kuskus, a typical Moroccan dish, for lunch the one night which we shared out of the same large bowel in the middle of the table.  The dish is similar to paella, with rice, vegetables, and meat all mixed together.  The daughter of the host family we stayed at visited regularly and her baby loved me, every time it looked at me it would start laughing.  He was so cute!

We also got to hang out with students from one of the universities who are English majors.  It was really nice to get to talk with them in a relaxed setting and really get to learn about the differences between our cultures.  Usually, in the US when I tell people that I am Psychology Pre-Dental they find the Pre-Dental part the most interesting, in Spain when I tell them what I am studying they just think it is strange that I have two “careers”, but in Morocco when I told them, they thought the strange part was the psychology part.   I guess no one majors in psychology there, and they were very interested in what I have studied/learned, and for the rest of our time together they referred to me as psychology.  There college life is much different than ours in the US, since drinking alcohol is against their religion they usually just hang out with their friends and chill.  The six of us got along so well, 4 girls from the US and the 2 boys from Morocco we had a great afternoon together.

We visited a small town up in the mountains another afternoon, and through our translator were able to communicate with the family’s whose house we had lunch at.  The woman of the house was about 25 with three kids and whose job it is to do all of the cooking, cleaning, child-raising etc.  She has lived in this town for her whole life, and she will never leave.  The same goes for everyone in the town for the most part.  She asked us if any of us were married, which we all thought was a crazy idea, but for them it is common to get married between 18 and 21.  Their lives were so different from ours, we have the opportunity to become whatever we want, and aren’t trapped into a certain way of life like she is.

The next city we visited was Chefchaoen, by far my favorite place in Morocco that we visited.   All of the buildings were blue and white, very close together with the narrowest roads separating them.  The city was located at the bottom of a mountain, spreading up the side of it.  Throughout all of the roads were markets selling Moroccan goods and jewelry.  Three of us really wanted to get henna, which is very common in Morocco, so we asked the guy we were buying earrings from where we should go.  He told us that his friend could do it for us, and the next thing we knew, the woman was right there and was having us follow her to her house.  As we went inside I became pretty freaked out, immediately thinking of Taken, especially as we climbed the stairs up three floors.  However at the top it opened up to her kitchen, and her two little boys were there with her friend and daughter.  I relaxed and felt much safer and we took our shoes of as you must do before stepping into their living room and sat down on their couches.  She didn’t speak Spanish very well, her French was better, so once again we were trying to communicate using the four different languages.  She drew this elaborate design on my hand and up my arm that she described as “Saharan style” and the other girls, Orla and Ana, had flowery designs done by the daughter.  The experience overall was just so incredible, and once again reinforced the fact that Moroccans are so welcoming and very kind.

I felt so safe during my entire time in Morocco, even safer than I feel in Madrid.  I was also worried about being hungry the whole time I was there, but was literally stuffed the whole time, between the snacks our leader gave us, Principe cookies and pomegranate and curry flavored Pringles, and the meals we were given.   The whole time we were there we drank their famous mint tea.  It is so sweet, with so much sugar, but it is sooo good.  I really need to find out how to make it, it was unlike any other tea I have ever had.  It was also safer for us to drink the tea because the water was unsafe to drink and boiling it made it safe.  Overall my time in Morocco was amazing, and I experienced so much more than I was able to share here so I will just have to tell you all about it when I get back.

Look out soon for another blog entry on my trips to El Escorial, Cordoba, and Granada. Bye!


1 Comment

Coach Kathy:
November 7, 2012
OMG you're so busy traveling....what an experience you're having.....and the food sounds exciting.....hope your classes are good.....you're learning sooooo much...awesome for you....
Hugs, Coach Kathy
PS keep an eye out for something in the mail :)
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