Good news, we have WiFi in the hotel so I can still blog this weekend! Also, I’m in Morocco!!!
We spent most of the day traveling. Keep in mind this is a trip run by the AIFS program which means I don’t have to plan anything and I get to do much nicer things than I would’ve paid for on my own. We’ve only been here for a few hours but I am LOVING this trip!
When we first arrived, our tour guide met us at the airport. When the plane landed we just got out and walked to the airport, there weren’t any ramps. But the airport was very beautiful. Then our guide took us to a famous garden that holds 10,000 olive trees and a giant pool that irrigates them once every two weeks. She told us lots of things about the Moroccan history and culture on the drive, like the fact that Friday’s are the biggest day of prayer during the week. Normally people pray for 10-15 minutes five times a day, but on Friday prayer lasts for one hour and lots of shops close so people can go pray. Men and women pray in different rooms, and although men sometimes pray outside, women must always pray in their homes or inside the mosque. In the mosques, the men’s rooms are in the front and the women’s are in the back. We’re told to stay in groups, especially if we’re women, but generally I haven’t felt too unsafe or uncomfortable. I think I was expecting more shocking circumstances because they keep telling us it’s a third world country and we can’t drink the water, which made me think of when I went to Haiti, but this has been nothing like that so far. It’s so beautiful and cool here! Anyway, here is a path in the garden and the huge pool beside it. It’s popular to buy bread near at the edge and feed the huge carp. We also saw some of the cities walls and famous buildings in the bus tour, but I only got a picture of part of the wall that separates the old city from the new. After the garden, we were taken on a camel ride! I felt bad for the camels, but I tried to give mine lots of love, pets, and thanks. The babies walk along with their moms, so for a while I was surrounded by two adorable baby camels. The sun was also setting as we did this, which provided an even more amazing backdrop. They dressed us in traditional clothes which they didn’t explain, but they were comfy, bright colors, and protected our clothes from the dirt. Below you can see my roommate and I getting ready to ride the camels!The picture before the last one is one of the babies.
After we rode the camels, we were taken to the main square of the city which is normally full of markets and stands to buy all kinds of food, souvenirs, beautiful ornate lamps, oils, pottery, toys, paintings, clothes, bags, henna tattoos, and so many other things. There’s also lots of drum circles and people playing music, and we even saw a young boy performing acrobatics with a basketball on an elevated bar. This is where it’s not very easy to take photos, though, as most people will apparently charge you if you try. I took one small video to try and set the scene, but it really doesn’t capture half of what that square was really like. We were also constantly approached by people wanting us to buy things, and we often hear comments aimed toward women while men are sometimes openly disregarded. Surprisingly, I didn’t mind as much as I thought because I was expecting it, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the square at night. Finally, we arrived at our hotel, which was also much nicer than I was expecting. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen; everything is beautifully decorated. I love the tile and the patterns and all the bright colors. There’s even a huge pool area outside with blue terraces and ivy on the walls. Dinner was provided for us at the hotel. It was a huge buffet style dinner with lots of choices that I wanted to try so many of. I ended up getting a soup, couscous with vegetables, and pasta that I watched someone make in front of me with four cooked vegetables and lots of spices. It was so delicious. I also visited the grocery store right next to the hotel and got five liters of clean water for about sixty U.S. cents.
I’m exhausted now, and I’m excited to sleep in a real hotel room and to go on adventures that I don’t have to think too much about this weekend. I’m so glad I’m on this trip already, and getting to see this culture is a really valuable experience. I’m trying to keep an open mind and take in as much as I can. If you have any questions or want to know anything specific about Moroccan culture leave a comment so I can ask our guide tomorrow. Otherwise, until tomorrow!