This weekends trip was through a non-profit organization called Morocco Exchange, and their whole goal is to give you a real non-touristy experience; which I feel like I definitely got. We missed a day of class this week in order to do the program Nov 21-24th. We arrived in Tangier, Morocco about 230 pm that Thursday and thats where we met our program coordinator Kristen, I went with a bunch of people in my program since we were all encouraged to do this particular program ( a group of about 15 people). I went into this very open minded because I honestly I had no idea what to expect, and after weeks of traveling around Europe i’ve learned that nothing is going to be like what I expect!
Roof top of the women’s center- Tangier.
We started our trip with a drive to the local women’s center in Tangier and got to learn about the program that they have there, which is for women to come in, pay a small fee, and they are taught a skill. The main skill that was taught was two different types of rug making (modern and traditional) so that they can make a living with this learned skill. We also got the opportunity to ask anything we’d like to the women who ran the women’s center while we were eating dinner, it was interesting to learn about what they think about the U.S and current issues around the world. They were all every educated and open to answering all of our questions and I really enjoyed the time I had there.
Our room at our home stay in Rabat
We left that evening and had about a 3 hour car ride to Rabat, which is the Capitol where we would meet our host families for the next two nights. The drive went by fast and myself and two other friends of mine in the program grouped together for the same host family. One of the girls in our home spoke english very well, but everyone else…not so much. The language barrier was a little strange at first, but after getting to know the family and eating dinner it didn’t seem to matter so much anymore. I don’t know how to explain it, but even without being able to communicate to our “host mom” we still all felt very welcomed. The food we ate was AMAZING, possibly the best meals i’ve eaten since I started school in Barcelona. We all at together out of a communal dish, very different, but I got used to it.
The next day we got the opportunity to hang out with Moroccan college students in the area, and I went in thinking they might be a little more conservative than maybe other students in the U.S but oh was I mistaken. They we’re all so open with everything! We talked about everything from gay rights to our favorite musicians/actors; it was so much fun and an awesome learning experience. We hung out at the beach and conversed over some hot chocolate, it was a good day. This night was our last night with our host families and it was so sad leaving, they all made me feel so welcomed and told us we could come back and stay whenever we liked.
Houses in Chefchaouen
Our last full day was spent in Chefchaouen , which is a much smaller town than Rabat or Tangier, and almost all of the houses there are painted some shade of blue and its absolutely beautiful. We got to meet with a family in a small village for lunch, we had to hike through a bit of mud since it was rainy, but definitely worth it. We all cut up bread, fruits, vegetables, and meat and sat around a table cloth and ate together. We got to ask the family questions about their lives on the farm the dad owned, and basically how life is there for them. The next morning at about 6:45 am we all woke up and went on a small hike to the Rif Mountains to see a view of the whole village from a high point, and oh was it beautiful. The sun was rising over the mountains and you could see for miles and miles. Unfortunately, after this we had to head out to the airport and back to Barcelona for the rest of our Sunday.
Village view from the Rif Mountains in Chefchaouen.
This particular trip was very eye opening for me, I didn’t feel like a tourist in this country I got the opportunity to feel like apart of a family and see these cities from a locals point of view. Learning about a Islamic country was so intriguing and eye opening, and it has me more of an educated person and also made me appreciate the luxuries I have in Barcelona and at home. I will definitely go back someday! I loved every minute spent in Morocco.