When I first learned that I was studying abroad in Spain, the number one country that I wanted to visit was Morocco. Therefore, you can imagine my excitement when I traveled to this country this past weekend, with my parents and Kelsey, all of whom wanted to explore Morocco.
My whole life I have only traveled to countries where Christianity is the main religion, such as Latin America, Europe or North America. Therefore, traveling to Morocco, where the majority religion is Islam, was extremely interesting and eye opening. Once we arrived in Marrakesh, we climbed in a taxi that drove us to our hotel. The second we got on the main road, there were buses, donkey carts, runners, motorcycles and cars all in the same lane …I can officially never complain about the confusing and panicky Worcester driving! Thankfully, we arrived safely at our hotel and were warmly greeted by the owners and offered delicious mint tea.
Once we were replenished with plenty of liquids and food, we decided to venture out into Marrakesh. The owner of the hotel walked us to the main market or ¨medina¨ as the streets in Marrakesh are a very intricate and form a confusing labyrinth. With my mother stopping every turn to write down the street name to prevent us from getting lost, we finally made it to the medina. This was one of my favorite places in Marrakesh. There was everything in this market: bright and colorful clothes, beautiful scarfs and bags, necklaces, earrings and gorgeous painted plates. After walking through the market, we entered the main plaza, where my eyes popped even more. We encountered snake charmers, with real live cobras slithering around their necks, turtles, geckos, fortune and story tellers, dentists (with a table full of teeth and dentures) and so much more! I honestly could have sat in this market and people watched for the next three days. Even though my parents didn´t let me camp out at the market, we were able to return and walk through the area everyday on our way to explore other areas in Morocco and each time, we would see something different. Besides the market, we visited the modern new city and several palaces and parks.
One Saturday we went to the countryside, where we met one of the hotel owner´s friend who gave us a tour of a barber village and cooked us an amazing Moroccan feast. The food there was so well spiced and everything was so fresh, it was truly amazing.
After traveling to Morocco, a Muslim country, my view of the world has shifted. As the United States is in the middle of the war with another Muslim country, there are many negative presumptions and stereotypes that unfortunately exist about Muslims. I didn’t believe these negative stereotypes before, but nearly every person in Morocco that I talked with was extremely warm and welcoming, and never did I feel unsafe or uncomfortable. This trip to Morocco, as well as many other experiences in my life, has re-affirmed the lesson that you cannot believe everything that you hear nor can you believe in all stereotypes.
On Halloween we left Morocco and spent the night in Madrid, where we walked around the city for a few hours. We were amazed as to how many people were celebrating Halloween. The majority of the people were dressed as witches, vampires or goblins. This definitely made me miss the diversity in costume choices that is present in the States!
Dato Divertido: Since this post is mostly about Morocco, I am going to make the ¨fun fact¨ about Moroccan culture. Five times a day in Morocco the ¨call to prayer¨ could be heard by a loud speaker from the several mosques in Marrakesh. Once this prayer went off several people would walk into the mosques (after taking off their shoes) for a prayer session and fifteen minutes later, would leave. Since I took Comparative Religion freshman year and have never been to a Muslim country, I was very interested in this tradition. I was very impressed with the religious dedication of these people, and that several times a day, they take the time to go pray in the mosques. I was especially impressed when I realized that one of the calls to prayer was at the brutal hour of 4 AM!
Sorry this is so long…it was such an amazing trip and I had to give every detail!