This past weekend ICS had the pleasure of traveling to a completely different continent–Africa! I was especially excited for this adventure as I had never been to Africa, and this was the first time I would be leaving Spain during the semester. Ironically enough, once we got off the ferry and stepped on to this new continent we were actually still in Spain. We landed in the Spanish colony of Ceuta, which is in Africa, who knew! (I sure didn’t). We soon crossed the border into Morocco where the real journey would begin.
Our first stop was in the coastal city of Tangier. Here we explored the Cave of Hercules, given its name because Hercules supposedly once slept there. This underground complex is also known for its breathtaking Africa shaped opening into the sea. The opening allows the sun to shine through to the dark cave as well as waves to crash in. As I explored the cave with the sound of crashing waves in the background and my way illuminated by the natural light, I couldn’t help but think that this was a magnificent entry into the country of Morocco.
After this, we departed for our much anticipated camel ride on the beach. This is a part of the trip that everyone was looking forward to and it certainly did not disappoint! We had such a fun time riding the camels alongside the beach. I think everyone would agree that ICS made six new furry friends in Morocco that day! After a long day of traveling, cave exploring, and camel riding we checked into our hotel. That night we had a typical Moroccan dinner of soup, lemon chicken, and vegetables. After this we all settled in for the night to prepare for our trip to the Blue Pearl of Morocco the following day.
The next day we made our way to Chefchaouen–“The Blue Pearl of Morocco”. Unfortunately, it rained on us the entire day in this beautiful city. However, I did not let this discourage me as I walked through the winding blue roads of this little town. We stopped at a fabric shop where we learned how their well-known blankets were made and got a chance to purchase one. I purchased a beautiful throw, weaved with different shades of blue–the colors of Chefchaouen. After the walking tour, we had a buffet lunch which had delicious Moroccan dishes as well as some more Western options. After eating two full plates I was ready to go brave the rain once again in the name of shopping. I weaved my way in and out of various shops searching for the perfect souvenirs. The only problem is that once I found the perfect homemade ceramic piece, or canvas painting I had to haggle for it–just one of many unique elements of Moroccan life.
That same night we went to a fantasy dinner where we had a four course meal consisting of Moroccan soup, salad, meatballs, and chicken with couscous. As if the delicious meal weren’t enough, we were entertained throughout by a belly dancer, a live band, and Moroccan entertainers. We also had the opportunity to get a Henna tattoo. I got a beautiful floral design on my left hand featuring my name written in Arabic! In addition, at the end of the meal two ICS students participated in a mock Moroccan wedding. We all finished the evening by dancing alongside the entertainers to celebrate the happy “couple”.
We spent our final day in Morocco in the city of Tetuoan which is also where our hotel was located. We got to walk through the new and old city and experience the various food markets there. Fruits and vegetables were displayed on the streets along with bread, fish, live chickens for purchase, and many stray cats roaming alongside us. I liked experiencing this as it is very different from my culture and my first time seeing anything like it. We ended our time in Tetuoan by visiting a market in the local “Medina” with leather and silver, a natural pharmacy, and a local bakery. I bought a leather wallet, some of the delicious local tea, and some Moroccan sweets. After this we had to get on the bus to catch our ferry back to Spain.I was sad to leave Morocco, but also felt extremely blessed to experience such an amazing, diverse country and culture. I can definitely say I left Morocco feeling very humbled and rich in new experiences.