This past May I traveled outside of my country for the first time.
One of my very close friends from the past had been trying to get me to come see her in Morocco where she was teaching but I had too many excuses keeping me in the safety of my home. Until the New Year when my good friend came home for the Holidays and convinced my best friend/cousin, Amanda, to take the leap.
4,534 miles and 16 hours we found ourselves on the other side of the Atlantic in a whole new world.
Being in a place in Morocco was terrifying in the most exhilarating way imaginable. A foreign country, foreign languages, foreign culture. It was Ramadan and we toured much of the empty streets of the Hassan neighborhood alone. I found the few people still out and about in the city to be the complete opposite of what I had been warned about in many blogs and Americans. Everyone smiled, waved, and nodded hellos. There were no excessive catcalls, no stalkers or hateful glares.
It was a wonderfully crazy mix of cultures and eras. On one side of town there were shops and stores much like our own with comparable prices, on the other side of town, you go back decades, centuries even to the traditional, beautiful Medina. Merchandise was set up in little pop up shops, carts, even just on rugs on the side of the walk ways and streets. Aromas drifted all around from the perfumes to spices, fresh produce you will never find at the best of our Farmer’s Markets. Chicken so fresh it still clucks, beautiful handmade Kaftans, slippers, genuine leather. It was body to body and hot and the best time I have ever had shopping.
Because of our not so great timing, we hit the beginning of Ramadan though it was very interesting to experience. Everything (except McDonald’s and the occasional shop/haunt) was closed and the streets were near empty until sunset. Once the sky is dark and everyone had recovered from full bellies from breaking their fast, they venture out, shops and cafes open and the Medina buzzes to life again.
Though the trip didn’t go quite as planned and home sickness came in strong the last few days, it was such an incredible experience. I can’t wait to someday go back, maybe a different time of year, to see the amazing wonders Morocco has to offer.
I think the most valuable thing I experienced is that people are people. It was something I knew logically, but to really see that we are really all the same inside is so heartening, ESPECIALLY with everything going on throughout the world.
(Photo’s included in next post)