September 3rd | Thursday | I spent the day sight-seeing in Casablanca. The Hassan II Mosque was remarkable and breath-taking. It’s the 3rd largest in the world behind Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It only took them 6 years to build!! Granted, they did have 3,000 workers creating the masterpiece 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that worked in shifts. It was beyond impressive with all of the work done by hand.
September 4th | Friday | Marrakesh is the tourist capital of Morocco and we were fortunate enough to explore the city for two days. We explored the Medina, the home of the Souq Market where locals and tourists shop tunnels deep of scarves, oils, tea, even Louis Vuitton. Everything is cheap! Bargaining is similar in Oman where you never ever pay full price. Often times, not even half price if you can speak a bit of arabic or french. 60 dirhams ($6) to 15 dirhams ($1.50). Here in Marrakesh, there are few Palaces that are still standing past 200 years old because much of the old architecture was destroyed between the rivalry of dynasties. I’ll post a few pictures from a Palace which we were lead with a guide who spoke multiple languages really well, although for some reason he kept speaking to us in Spanish..”preguntas?!?”
One thing that struck me said by our guide was the roles of woman and how they have been changed over the hundreds of years in this culture. Back when the Sultan lived in the Palace we visited, he had a Harem, 3 or 4 wives that were drowning in wealth, although they stayed inside behind the curtains. They believed that women lose value and appeal, while when they are shown off, men create jealousy among each other. This jealousy of beauty sets with me because the ego in our culture has become too big. We post pictures on Instagram to show off our boyfriends, riches, adventures, gifts, experiences, etc…when these things are for us. I’m guilty of it too! I’m sure you’ve all seen my pictures I post of my boyfriend “serenading” me with his guitar. It sounds silly, but its true! Its supposed to be for me, but we feel the need to show everyone everything because we want them to know what we are doing. Although, I do believe there are exceptions and different intentions that aren’t all bad. I want to post these pictures for you all because I want to encourage you to travel, see all of these incredible places that i’m seeing, maybe even go to Morocco someday, or to begin learning the Arabic language. I want to share these things with the people I care about, not to make them jealous, but hopeful. Inspired.
We are so accustom to not only material things, but anything convenient. On the 3 hour ride to Marrakesh, there was a little boy who was on one of the empty dirt road carrying loaves of bread and other market produce. This dirt road followed the sunset and I couldn’t see where he would have shopped. He walked…maybe miles. Although to him it is much more than a long walk, it’s this families meal. I’m intrigued to visit these villages or remote areas that aren’t heavily developed.
September 5th | Saturday | The tallest waterfall in North Africa was at my feet. We even cliff jumped! Nearly everyone in our group made the jump…all 26 of us and the directors. and enjoyed the entire afternoon in Ouzoud Falls in a village with a lot of Berber influence. It was much more traditional with few tourists. Many people from Morocco come here to swim, eat, and shop to see the beautiful falls.
This first week in Morocco has been incredible. When my friends and family told me this would change my life, I didn’t realize how much of an impact these experiences and people would affect me. IT HAS BEEN ONE WEEK. I feel as if I’ve known this group of people for so much longer than this. Jess has already taught me many things about myself. We both have always struggled with the fact that we’re open minded. Its a blessing and a curse! I don’t even know what I believe because how can I form an opinion on something when I’m not fully informed. I’m excited to learn and compare all of these views here in Morocco because many of the classes I will be taking are intensive in comparing religion, peace and conflict resolution, and society within the arab world. We have sat in bed talking for hours about what we think on certain issues and possible solutions. It’s nice to iron out everything thats going on in my head with someone who thinks the same way as me.
More pictures to come, but the wifi isn’t working well right now!