So in one week I have managed to finish orientation, take a placement test, and travel to Africa and now I am sitting in my room before vacation begins.
This one day has been an awkward in between but also a nice relaxing 24 hours before I start more traveling. I was able to use this time to catch up with my family and friends as well as sleep, but also able to process my time in Africa.
While on the bus Friday afternoon on the way to Tarifa, Espana (the port where we take the ferry to Morocco) I didn’t really know what to expect. I had been to Africa before so I didn’t have the same kind of excitement as most of my friends. I knew that this would be a country so different compared to Uganda. I was mostly excited to check off a new country, travel by boat to a different continent, ride a camel, try their food, and get tons of Moroccan scarves.
However, I found that coming into this trip I was kind of arrogant. I was concerned more about me and what I would get out of it than meeting individuals, learning about their culture and religion, and truly exploring what Morocco had to offer outside of tourism.
I toured Morocco with this program called Morocco Exchange. Although they took us to many tourist sites, including riding a camel on the beach, they did their best to depict Morocco as the country it truly is. We spend most of our time with Moroccan college students, staying with families, and going to remote villages to see how the typical rural Moroccan family lived.
What I learned:
On the first day, we visited a women’s center where we learned about women’s rights in Morocco through touring the center and having lunch with 3 female moroccan college students.What I learned was that although women are still not equal to men in Morocco and they still have a lot going against them, Morocco is a lot more liberal in this area than many other Muslim countries. I found that these women were just like me where they desire to learn and do something meaningful with their life. Yes, they will have more difficulty accomplishing this dream than me, however they are fighters and I loved that about them.
On the second day, we went to an NGO and had a great discussion of politics and religion with some college students. It was very interesting to hear from two Muslims that struggled with many similar issues that I struggle in my faith. One took the Koran very literally “if you steal your hand should be cut off” where the other took the words from Koran more metaphorically and looked at the book as a whole rather than verse “if someone steals because they can’t afford to eat we should have been generous and given them something” he also believed that as the culture is changing so should the way he look at the Koran. It was so interesting to see that these two Muslims, even though a different religion from me, struggled with the same controversial topics in the Christian church. Another interesting point I took from this time was that although morocco is more liberal than other Muslim nations there is no separation from church and state like there is in morocco.
We stayed in Rabat with host families for 2 nights. I loved my host mother. She spoke English well and would call Marissa, Amanda and I her loves and princesses. One day she even called me Barbie. She taught us how to make tea, cooked us traditional Moroccan food and was so hospitable. She taught us so much about her culture just through her love and kindness.
Anytime our group visited a home or business we were offered traditional Moroccan tea. Their tea showed me just a glimpse of their great hospitality.
On the last day we visited a village in the Riff mountains and shared lunch with a family. They showed us their farm and shared what they had. We brought food for sandwiches and they made us vegetable couscous and we sat together, all 22 of us, around the room sharing a meal together. The family didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Arabic but there was something so natura about sharing a meal together. I think it is because eating is something that as humans we all have in common. And just sharing a meal with people of a different culture is so fun because at the end of the day we are eating we just do it in different ways.
What I ate:
I found that chicken tagine is delicious and a very traditional meal. Tagine is used like the word casserole in the mid West; it is both a word to describe the dish it is cooked in and the name of a meal. The tangine dish is made of clay or pottery and has 2 parts to it a circular base and a dome shaped top used for cooking. Tagine is a rich stew of meat and because it is slow cooked that flavors come alive!
CousCous is absolutely delicious and they use olive oil so it is not as dry of a grain. Couscous Friday is observed nationally which I think is pretty cool.
Moroccan Tea is the best tea I have ever had. Moroccans really know what they are doing. I had the pleasure of learning how to make this tea from my host mother and will make it regularly in the states (blog post to come later about how to make i
Patilla is savory and delicious. It is made with layers of phyllo pastry and chicken and topped with powder sugar and cinnamon. I would never have guessed that these flavors worked well together but it was so good and quite filling.
Well ill it’s unreal buy yet again I’m packing my bags and heading off to the United Kingdom. I know you are probably thinking when does she go to school but I promise you I will in October but for now I’m going to enjoy my time in the United Kingdom visiting some friends and touring a new area