Sorry this post is so delayed. This past week I have been busy with finals and making the most of the end of Seville.
Anyway, last weekend we went through We Love Spain (yes, the infamous program that we went to Carnivale in Cadiz through) to Morocco. While most people usually get food poisoning or some sort of stomach ailment from the food in Morocco, Hannah and I had something going on even before we got onto the bus. I’m not going to go into further detail, but just keep in mind that this affected us for most of Friday, which was only spent traveling, and part of Saturday. We weren’t really able to eat any of the foods that we were given, which was a bummer, but we made the best of our situation and ate lots of bread.
We traveled most of Friday, from bus to ferry to bus, to Tetouan, which was our first stop in Morocco. We arrived at the hotel pretty late Friday night in time for a late dinner (which I barely attended any of) and then we all went back to our rooms. I was rooming with Hannah and watched the only channel on TV that was in English. Some commercials were in Arabic and we thought one commercial in particular was really interesting. We couldn’t understand what the dialogue in the commercial was, but basically it was a commercial for cream that makes your skin whiter. We thought it was interesting how in the US creams are all about making you looking tanner and in Morocco we’re watching a commercial advertising white skin.
On Saturday, our tour guide took us into town on a tour. We were told not to wear shorts or tank tops in Morocco because the women are so covered and it might be uncomfortable to have people staring, so we wound up wearing leggings and t-shirts. When we actually went into town for the first time and saw how covered up the women were, we even felt too revealing in what we were wearing.
Our tour guide led us into the smaller streets of the town and areas where food is sold. People literally were selling fresh food off the streets and it was really a culture shock after having bought food in supermarkets all my life. Many people didn’t want their pictures taken, especially women, and our tour guide told us that it is because they don’t want to wind up in magazines and tour guide books.
After walking around the streets for a bit we wound up in a small square where women were selling fabric that looked like blankets off of wooden carts. We weren’t really sure what they were for, so our tour guide asked one of the women to give a demonstration. He asked for a volunteer and naturally Kim offered herself up. The woman showed us that the blankets were actually used as clothing as she dressed Kim up in an entire outfit. The man next to Kim in this picture was standing watching the whole thing and offered to take pictures with her after. (Sorry about the water bottle in the corner.)
After the demonstration, Kim was undressed and we made our way to our first stop of the day. Our guide took us to an herbal shop that sold spices and other types of organic products that are used to cure things such as snoring, asthma, colds, etc. We had both Spanish and French people on our tour and the man who was giving us the demonstration spoke all 3 languages fluently (as well as Arabic). He went back and forth between the 3 languages every few sentences and it was actually amazing to hear someone speak like that. At the end, we were able to buy any of the spices for cooking or for medicinal purposes.
After we left the herbal place, our tour guide brought us to a carpet shop. The man at the store did a presentation for us on the different types of carpets he had and told us that most of them were handmade. Some of the bigger ones took over 6 months for 2 women to complete. After he showed us different types of carpets, people were able to buy them. While the people who were interested in carpets tried to negotiate, the rest of us looked around the rest of the store that had ceramics and other handmade products.
We then went to lunch at a place that we could obviously tell was very touristy and meant for big groups, but we still had a great time. Because I was still feeling a little sick and obviously couldn’t eat any of the Moroccan food, I decided to get hena from a woman at the restaurant while everyone was eating. The picture above is what it looked like while it was still drying. After it was completely dry a couple of hours later, I chipped off the outer later and only the ink was left. While hena is known to last for around 2 weeks, this was not the best hena (hey, what did I expect after only paying 3 euros?) and some of it faded off after I showered.
After lunch, we took a bus to Tangiers. We stopped to look at a cave and was given a tour of it. Different parts of the cave were meant to represent different continents and different part of the oceans through the way that they were sculpted. We then stopped to take some quick camel rides. I didn’t do it because I had already taken a long camel ride on Birthright in Israel and I kind of felt bad for the camels. They were constantly being forced to stand up and sit down and if you’ve seen a camel do this you know its no easy task. There was also a little baby 4 month old camel as you can see to the right that was really cute.
After the camel rides we took a short bus ride to the area where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean oceans meet. We stopped to take pictures and a few of us bought bracelets from the small venders in the area. I got a bracelet with little chamsa’s on it with green hearts in the middle.
About a half hour later we all got back on the bus and headed towards our hotel. After settling in we decided to walk around the area for a bit. We were told there was a synagogue nearby and we wanted to check it out. When we got there the gate was closed and we were standing outside to see if anyone would come out and let us in. A police officer was standing nearby and came up to us (being a group of about 10 American girls standing outside of a synagogue) and asked us what we were doing. He told us that he was the personal guard for the synagogue and that it was closed for the day.
After showering and dinner back at the hotel, our tour guide took us to a show a couple of blocks from our apartment. I wish I had the words to describe what actually occurred there, but I don’t think anything I say will actually justify how crazy it actually was. And by crazy I kind of mean absurd, but I’ll try my best to explain. It started off with a band playing some Arabic music, then a belly dancer, then these men to the left and then some women dressed in yellow that sang and dance. The men and the yellow dressed women all had volunteers come up and dance with them, which we obviously all were a part of. Then the acts started to get weird and it seemed as if in between acts the owners of the place were literally going outside and pulling random people off the street to perform. A man performed who balanced candles on his head for no less than 20 minutes and we had no idea what he was doing half the time. Another woman came out who danced and picked out a male and female volunteer from the audience and she was making them do the most absurd things such as making them get on their knees and wave their chests in the air and then she started slapping the girls boobs. (Runnnnnnn on sentence.) It was overall a very weird experience, but we had a good time. When the show was over our tour group was escorted back to our hotel by 4 body guards which was a little scary knowing that they were needed.
On Sunday, we ate breakfast at the hotel and then took a two hour bus ride to Chefaouen. When we arrived our tour guide passed us off to another tour guide who was going to to lead us around the city. Once again, I have no words to describe what he was like (besides AMAZING), but fortunately Hannah took a video with my camera that you can watch below. He told us his name was “Habibi” and by the end Hannah and I deemed him “Habibi the Ha-baby,” for the sole reason that he was no taller than 5 feet. He lead us around the city, which was painted a beautiful shade of light blue.
Half way through the tour, Habibi took us to a blanket shop and I bought a new blanket for my new big girl bed at home. (For all of you that don’t know, I’ve had the same bed since I was in 3rd grade. Finally, after my third year in college, we decided that it was appropriate to get me a full bed.) It’s different shades of blue and very pretty. At the end of walking around, Habibi brought us to a market area to shop. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to look around, but I was able to bargain a bag down from 35 euro to 20 euro.
Now watch the movie of Habibi!
After we had lunch, we headed back to the border for a very long trip back to Seville. I thought that Morocco was a great ending to my trips because it was the most culturally different. I was really amazed at the style of living in Morocco and I’d definitely love to go back some day.
Here are some more pictures from the trip.
Word of the weekend:جزاكم الله خير (shukran) = thank you in Arabic