My first venture into Africa

I just got back from my last trip of the semester, and while I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say I’d saved the best for last, it certainly was the most different. After deciding that three days of class weren’t nearly as important as getting to see a whole new continent, my four roommates and I all embarked on a five day trip to Morocco (a lot of numbers in that sentence, I know).

Walking out of the Fez airport, we were greeted by sunshine and 75 degree weather, and all thoughts of the classes I was missing were long forgotten. Whenever I get to a new country I usually have to remind myself that I’m in England or Italy or Belgium, but Morocco needed no such reminders. A few minutes into the cab ride towards the city, and the cabbie had to swerve around a laden down donkey walking on the side of the road- hardly something I’d ever come across in Barcelona.

While Morocco is a nation that thrives on tourism, you would hardly know it. In Amsterdam and Italy, it is hard to walk ten feet without running into a gaggle of tourists with cameras around their necks and their noses buried deep in guidebooks. In both Fez and Casablanca, we went almost the whole time without running into more than a dozen people who looked like us.

This is not to say that the native Moroccans were not happy to see us. The people were for the most part extremely welcoming, which actually caught me a little off guard. After hearing so many stories about how you have to bargain for everything, and how everyone just wants to rip you off because you’re an American, it was at first a bit hard to understand that most people were truly just being friendly.

This is not to say that there aren’t people that can see you don’t know the language and the customs and will try to use that to their own benefit, but it is by no means a fair blanket statement about the inhabitants of Morocco. We asked for directions at one gas station, and even though the man didn’t really understand us or know the answer, within seconds every worker in the place had stopped what they were doing to try and help us.

However, I do have to say that the Moroccan salesmen are very good at what they do. We went on a tour of a rug weaving place, and even though no one had any intention whatsoever of purchasing any rugs, two on my roommates ended up giving in, and one of them spent $1500- his credit card company called looking for him later that day, slightly concerned.

Coming back from Morocco was bittersweet, because it means that I only have two weeks left before I pack up my giant suitcase and head back to the States. I suppose I’ll just have to make sure it’s quite the two weeks.

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