It has always been a dream of mine to visit some place in Africa. I have seen so many pictures and movies that highlight the beauty of the continent that I wanted to see it with my own eyes. Since my Semester at Sea plan did not work out, I knew that the chances of me going to Africa were slim. Then I did some research and I realized that Morocco was near the Northern tip of Africa, which is very close to the South of Spain. I quickly found out that Morocco was extremely accessible if I wanted to take a ferry from Spain to Morocco through the Strait of Gibraltar. Being a study abroad student is all around awesome, but one of the best perks is that we have the option to travel with tour groups with other study abroad students. One of my roommates told me to check out DiscoverExcursions, because they had a really awesome weekend trip to Morocco that we could take part in. Since my birthday was soon approaching, we decided to go on my birthday weekend because it was one of the main places I wanted to visit while abroad.
The meeting spot was in Sevilla, so we needed to fly from Barcelona to Sevilla. Then we would take a bus from Sevilla to the ferry port in Tariffa. From Tariffa we took the ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangiers, Morocco. THEN a bus from the ferry port to our hotel, Hotel la Paloma in Tetuan. It was a lot of traveling for one day but I was really excited for the weekend ahead of us. The hotel we stayed at was really gorgeous and they served us a delicious meal as soon as we got there.
The next morning we got breakfast at the hotel and then headed to our next destination, Chefchaouen. When we arrived to Chefchaouen we had this little Moroccan tour guide to bring us around the city. The city was so beautiful and he told us that the buildings are painted white to keep the mosquitos out and the doors bright blue to keep it cool because its on the top of the mountain so in the summer it can be up to 115 degrees. After the tour, we got served a traditional Moroccan meal at a local restaurant. We were served this amazing salad with all vegetables and freshly cooked bread. For the main course, we got rice and fresh chicken. The food was really great and so fresh, which was one of my worries about visiting a country like Morocco. After that we had free time to shop… which was interesting. The economy is so bad there that they are basically living off of tourists buying their things. If you touch a shirt they will follow you around the block and say they’ll give you a good price for whatever you glanced at. Bargaining is what you’re supposed to do there, but I tried it once and the guy told me that I shouldn’t be so cheap because some people need the money to buy food for their families.. so I gave him the money and walked away because I felt terrible. All of the scarves, jewelry and clothing were beautiful and you can tell they were definitely all handmade, so it was worth the money. After Chefchaouen, we had dinner at the hotel and afterwards we got to a see a Moroccan band play songs and dance for us. It was really fun because the performers seemed so happy to be entertaining us.
The next day we went to this town called Tangiers which is on the coast which was really beautiful. Its where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet. We drove down the coast and got to stop and ride camels. Riding camels was so cool but because we were with a large group, they basically walked us around a parking lot. It was still a really amazing experience because when will I ever be able to ride a camel again?!?! We then drove to this town called Asilah, which was just another touristy town just on the coast. The people here selling stuff were very irritating and would follow you around shoving things in your face and telling us that we are not nice people because we won’t buy their homemade pastries……So we walked around for a little and then just hangout in the sun. Teenagers were trying to hide underneath the bus to come with us to the ferry stop which was strange. We then headed to the ferry port because our Moroccan journey had come to an end.
Overall, I had an AMAZING experience in Morocco. It is such a different culture than what we are used to in America, and it definitely made me appreciate little things like windows and being able to wear whatever I want as a woman. It was hard to see the oppression of women because in America and in other parts of the world women run around doing and wearing whatever they wanted. There was never a point where I felt uncomfortable or unsafe, but maybe it was because I was with a tour group. I tried to overlook all of the stereotypes that I had heard about traveling to Morocco. One of the ones I can look back and laugh out is that since I have blonde hair, I would be harassed by the Moroccan men, which did not happen once. I definitely would like to visit Morocco at another point in my life and I highly suggest traveling with DiscoverExcursions if you plan on going to Morocco during your time studying abroad.