Morocco Calling

June 4, 2015 53 Morocco

Travelling Morocco was one of the most eye-opening few weeks of my life.

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The following morning, we met our legend of a guide, Youssef, who we’d found on TripAdvisor, and thank god for that. From there, we saw as much of Morocco as we could feasibly fit in before the rush back home for second semester. Youssef knew all the secret spots and best options for food to eat or activities we wanted to do. Throughout our long drives, he enlightened us on Muslim customs and culture, and what things like covering the head and fasting meant on a fundamental spiritual level, and from a genuine place – not a Western observer’s perspective as we are so used to.

We ended up doing Ramadan with Youssef, with the exception of some water and secret snacks that we took turns at consuming as silently as possible in the back of the car when our stomach-growling got too audible – we couldn’t bring ourselves to eat in the car when he hadn’t eaten anything since a ridiculous hour of the morning. The meal after the sunset prayer call in each city was the best thing we’d ever tasted every day – though admittedly, we never managed to wake ourselves up before sunrise to eat the necessary quantity of bananas to last the day, so cheated with

breakfasts of msemen and jam (which was stupidly delicious for about a week, after which all I wanted was some greens, and all Alex wanted was a chicken burger).

It’s difficult to explain how much impact this kind of culture shock has when you pay attention. Any complaints I heard about travelling in Morocco as a woman disintegrated as soon as I saw the context. Morocco definitely needs to be travelled in the right way – with the right research, the right guide, a good amount of awareness and respect, an open mind, and some kind of hunger to learn something about how other people see the world through a very different lens. Sure, you can travel across the planet and stay in the confines of a resort of incredible luxury with themed decor – each to their own. But, we had some of the greatest experiences just walking around, trying new things (sometimes at the expense of our stomach flora, but whatever), and asking questions.

Youssef taught us to do all of that. Hope to see you soon old mate.

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  1. Cooling off in the corner of our Riad bedroom in Marrakech after a long day sweating it out, getting lost in the Medina
  2. Silently breathtaking streets of Asilah in North Morocco – we took a day trip here from Tangier
  3. Dreamy local hangout on the coastline highway between Tangier and Asilah
  4. A fountain and cacti at Yves Saint Laurent’s breathtaking Jardin Majorelle home
  5. Camel-trekking through the Sahara with the Desert Men who were the happiest people with the strongest ankles on the planet
  6. After no sleep whatsoever (the dunes spent the night shifting across our campsite), but it was ok because my mate here had all of the chill
  7. Layers of street art in Asilah – I’m dying to go back for their Art Festival which is supposed to be fantastic
  8. Headscarf only came off when nobody else was around, and the photo-op was too good to be true
  9. Dinner grill at the fish markets in Essaouira (the city windier than Chicago)
  10. Handmade rugs drying in an empty back alley in Asilah
  11. A mural at the entrance of blue mountain town, Chefchaouen
  12. Watching kids playing football at sunset in Taghazout after a surf day

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