Unforgettable is truly the most appropriate word that would describe my experiences in Morocco. This country isn't necessarily one I'd rank high in livability for short or long term stays but this would also be giving the wrong initial impression of such a majestic place. The only reason i would preface with this is because many, including myself, may find Morocco difficult at times. Morocco is unlike any other place I've ever been and possibly more unique than any other place I may go in the future(who's to say?).
As soon as I arrived at the airport of Morocco, I knew that I was in for a brand new experience just based on the fact that there is basically an entire section in the airport where you only see Muslim inhabitants in their standard garbs. Something I had never experienced in person but appreciated very much because one of the main reasons I'm doing this trek is to culture myself a bit. And Morocco has culture in spades. Everywhere you walk has a new sight, smell, smell, or scent. Impressions were made.
The place where I lived was the epicenter of the town we were staying in, Rabat. The living quarters were in a house like structure called a "riad" which is a traditional Moroccan house that features a large interior courtyard. And this riad was nestled right in the middle the largest marketplace, called a medina, occupying the city. So, if you were walking through the maze like marketplace and you happened to come across a friendly carpet salesman, you would turn right and my door was just there or.... you've found the wrong carpet dealer.
One thing I had to get used to in Moroccan culture was their 6 AM "call to prayer" that rings VERY loudly from ever mosque in the city, which also happens at other times throughout the day. Our home was in between 2-3 Mosques. For the first week or so, I was awakened by loud speakerphone prayer chanting that was somehow both in key and horribly out of key. At least for my western ears. But, instead of being turned off by it, I found it very awe inspiring because of the dedication, the consistency and the reminder of just how different of an environment I was living in that moment. The Moroccan people take many of their religious traditions very seriously and it was interesting to see it so ingrained in the culture that it seemed to seep out of every interaction or event.
I wanted to get to know more of the country besides the town i was staying in so I chose this month as the one to include one of my biggest "side trips". Me and a few other remotes decided on a camel trek across the Sahara desert, or perhaps it chose us. Because everything about this particular adventure seemed to line up so perfectly with my goals and intentions. The adventure started once we reached the edge of the desert. This was my first time being this close to a desert of any kind so I made efforts to take it all in and as I was doing that, I noticed our camels out the corner of my eye. Although in hindsight, i'm sure I smelled them before I saw them. They were there to stubbornly haul us through the desert until we reached the makeshift camp that had been awaiting us. We were greeted by locals with traditional snacks, drinks, music, and fire-pits but the true warmth actually came from the people. And although this was our first time in these surroundings, it felt like a home almost immediately. This desert trip remains one of my memorable experiences because every moment was foreign. Nothing I saw reminded me of anything except for the current moment.
Many more mini adventures happened in this majestic mirage of a place that carries the name Morocco. Every step I took was a step in a foreign direction and I appreciated all of it. The ups. The downs. I tried to soak up as much of the culture as possible and to me, Morocco will always be, unforgettable.
- Camel trek through the desert
- Roaming the maze like medina with an equally unforgettable french woman, by the name of Flavie, as we collected different ingredients that would be part of the meal we would later prepare that night
- Holding on for dear life as my taxis would weave in and out of the chaos that is Moroccan "traffic" as my life flashed before my eyes...everyday
- Meeting Su
- Seeing Mandy Patinkin shooting a scene for his show, Homeland, right in the medina surrounding my home
- Visiting the beach town of Essaouira and watching DJ Lee Burridge kill it with a daytime pool set
- Gazing at the stars in the Sahara desert
- Taking my most liked profile picture in the Sahara desert
- Being able to legally claim that I've been to the continent of Africa
- Seeing real monkeys for the first time (not in a zoo)
- 4-Wheeling through the desert then through the cobble stone streets of a small town
- Going to MOGA festival in Essaouira and seeing amazing sets by: Lefto, Darwin, DOP & Maalem Boussou, & Chaim