The only way I’ve been able to describe Morocco is by calling it “an adventure”. Although that sounds cliche, this trip really stretched my comfort zone.
We spent the first full day traveling by bus and ferry from Sevilla to Fez. The second day we got up early to head to the medina, which is basically a giant Moroccan market. Inside the medina, there are about 9,400 streets and roughly 80,000 shops with everything from clothes to meat, rugs, spices and everything in between. Donkeys hauled goods through the narrow winding streets and some very pungent smells filled the air. We visited shops that specialized in pottery, rugs, leather and natural pharmaceuticals. If you showed interest in something, the store workers would follow you around the store trying to negotiate prices until you bought that item. Personally, I prefer the American lack of customer service to the aggressive Moroccan sales techniques. Later that night we went to a show with traditional Moroccan music, dancers, and mint tea. We got smacked in the face with some North-African culture that day.
The next day, we traveled to Merzouga, a city farther south in the desert. We rode jeep 4x4s through until we arrived at our camp in the Sahara. Our luxury desert accommodations included giant communal tents complete with our very own personal foam mat. I was strangely okay with the lack of showers for this leg of the trip.
On Monday, we got up around 6am to watch the Saharan sunrise. One of the local Berbers led us on a walk through the dunes to a lookout on top of one of the biggest dunes. Here’s another cliche for you: the sunrise was absolutely stunning. I couldn’t help but be amazed at the fact that we serve a God that can make even a desert so beautiful. Later that day, we took an hour long camel ride through the desert. Sitting on top of a camel with nothing but desert on site made us feel like we were really in Africa. We made a pit stop at the Great Dune, that was GREAT exercise to climb to the top (pun intended). Once I caught my breath, I basked in yet another indescribable view. From the top, you can see everything from the mountains of Algeria to the endless sand dunes of the Sahara. After we ran down the dune we got back on our camels and rode into the town of Merzouga. We trudged through town and our pack of almost 100 college students descended on one of the few pools in the desert. When we arrived back to camp we ate lunch before getting henna tattoos from some of the locals. Since we had free time the rest of that afternoon, a few of my friends rented a board and skis so we could attempt some sand sports. We played around on the dunes with some locals until sunset and then headed back to camp. Dinner that night included live music and dancing, which is a perfect combination as far as I’m concerned. For our final night in the desert, we took a little walk away from camp to check out the stars. I’ve never seen so many shooting stars and constellations in my life.
The next day we started our journey to Meknes, one of the more modern Moroccan cities. We spent a quick night at a hotel there before our trek home continued the next day. One of the most eye-opening moments of the trip happened when our bus was trying to cross the border from Morocco into a Spanish territory in Northern Africa. As I sat in the back of the bus, we watched a large group of teenage boys run in front of traffic to catch up to our bus. They sprinted and latched on to crawl into the engine well in order to sneak across the border. Some kids were dragged under the bus, others got hit by car doors, some were even pulled out of the floor of the bus and arrested. I want to encourage everyone reading this post to pray for those kids, the people of Morocco and the government that’s in control. These kids risked their lives just to cross the border and it shows the lack of hope that they truly have.
Although you can’t drink the water and you’re likely to catch a stomach bug, Morocco was an amazing once in a lifetime trip and I’m thankful for the perspective and experiences it provided.