This past week, I experienced the craziest adventure yet.
During my fall study abroad program in Sevilla, Spain, Veritas took us on an excursion to Morocco for five days where we traveled into the main city of Fes, the Sahara Desert, and Meknes. The journey to Morocco took a day alone including eight hours on a bus and a journey over the strait of Gibraltar by boat.
The first day we went shopping in the Medina, the center of the city of Fes. The Medina is much different than I pictured in my head. Over 8,000 alleyways wind within the Medina—it is the biggest human maze I have ever been in. Thankfully, Veritas arranged a guided tour for us because I would have gotten lost within five minutes. There were dozens of hole-in-the-wall shops, crowds of people, and garbage everywhere. My nose went on a roller coaster of smells: trash, spices, roasting meat, human body odor, then repeat the whole cycle.
We got to see some amazing architecture within the city, including the high arches prominent in Islamic architecture and all the mosaics of color on the walls. In the Medina, we visited a gold shop followed by a scarf shop where they made everything by hand. We then visited the medicine man; he had a little shop full of concoctions of spices like myrrh, and all-natural body products. I’ll admit, I bought a lot of gifts at this new favorite shop of mine.
Afterward, we went to a leather-making shop. We took a tour through the tannery to learn how the leather is made (it is soaked in vats of pigeon poop then transferred to be dyed in colored vats of urine if you were wondering). The stench was unbearable.
We ended the day by seeing a traditional Moroccan show featuring music and some belly dancing. The dancers pulled me up during the middle of the show to join their dance—I had a lot of fun!
The next day, we traveled by 4×4 to our camp in the Sahara Desert. We camped there for two days and roughed it. We slept on cots, had no showers and little running water, and for our toilet? The desert.
But I loved it! I enjoyed immersing myself in the environment and taking in my surroundings. We had two amazing nights of dancing, looking at the stars, and taking night walks on the dunes. The next morning began with a 5a.m. wake-up call to watch the sunrise followed by a camel ride into town.
That was the craziest thing I have ever done, a perfect blend of fear and excitement.
We rode the camels to a sand dune and hiked up to the top to overlook the desert. Then we rode our camels to a hotel where, unbeknownst to us, a pool awaited. It was so nice to jump in after being in the 90-degree desert weather!
The desert time ranks as my favorite part of our trip to Morocco. From the colors of the sunset to the starry sky at night, to the orange sand dunes stretching as far as the eye could see, evidence of God’s hand showed everywhere.
I learned a lot about Moroccan culture through observation and immersion during my brief stay. In the cities, women were few and far between. They were not allowed in any cafes and usually had to be fully clothed head to toe. Men stared at all of us girls like pieces of meat, and I felt much discriminated against. I felt less observed than other girls because I wore a scarf on my head the majority of the time.
The Berbers in the desert fascinated me as well. An Islamic patriarchal system is in place in Morocco. The Berber men, ranging from eight to 40 years old, leave their wives at home to cook and clean. The Berbers marry not for love but learn to fall in love with time. The average age for a girl to marry is 17, for a man is 35. My heart broke at the thought that many of the Berber men had never spent a day in school or learned how to fully respect a woman.
During our activities, the men could participate freely while the women had to be invited in. The inequality within this society further proved how this world not only needs a true Savior who has created man AND women equal, but also an open heart to accept change. How I wished I could spend more time and really get to know the lives of these women and see life from their point of view. Maybe God will give me another chance.
One thing that gives me true peace in knowing that although I cannot change the world, I can be a light. But most importantly, my Father loves these people more than I do and will provide justice and mercy to them.
;”The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
Lauren Grant attends Vanguard University of Southern California and spent this fall semester studying abroad with Veritas in Sevilla, Spain. For Lauren, every day is a new adventure with fantastic experiences to be had. “God has created this beautiful world for us to live in and enjoy…and I have thoroughly been bit by wanderlust.”
What crazy adventure awaits you? Take your college experience to the next level of adventure when you study abroad and serve through missions with Veritas Christian Study Abroad. Get the journey started now.