I had the opportunity to visit Morocco this March with my AIFS program in Barcelona, Spain. It was one of my favorite weekends all semester. Here are some of my favorite memories, in no particular order:
1. Visiting a Moroccan pharmacy
This was SO much fun. When they told us we were visiting a pharmacy, I was just expecting to walk around a shop and check out some cool, local products. However, when we got there, we were ushered into a room and given a private show where the products were all explained to us. After telling us about each product, they would pass it around for everyone to try. So all of us were putting on rose eye cream, and sniffing decongestants, and putting on lip balm. It was hilarious, and so cool to try everything!
2. Getting lost in Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is a small city up in the Rif Mountains, but it is usually best known for being totally blue. Blue walls, blue floors, blue doors- the entire city has been washed in various shades of blue. We spent about half a day there, and we had about an hour and a half of free time, during which I decided to explore with a few other girls from my program. As we wandered through the streets, we quickly realized that we had become totally lost in the labyrinth of twists and turns. As we attempted to find our way back to the main road, we happened upon a dead end. It was about 15’x15’, with four doors spread around. Each with a different pattern and shade of blue, and usually a different size as well. The ground and walls were a sky blue color, and they surrounded us on every side. I felt like I was inside of a cloud. We spent about 20 minutes here, relaxing and taking pictures before eventually finding our way back.
3. Seeing the Caves of Hercules
I love seeing all of the natural wonders in each place I visit, and the Caves of Hercules, or Hercules Caves, did not disappoint! Not only was there an incredible cavern to appreciate, but the way the ocean crashed into and up through the lower opening was mesmerizing as well. It was like I was appreciating the cave’s current form while watching it be further created as the waves were constantly buffeting the rocks. Almost better than the cave, was the rocky shore just outside. Just like in the cave, the waves rushed up through hundreds of openings created in the rock, forming a pervious surface, riddled with tide pools of varying sizes.
4. Shopping (everywhere)
The shopping in Morocco is unlike anywhere I have ever been. There are so many unique, handmade things: pharmacy products, bags, rugs, blankets, sandals; it can be hard not to spend the whole trip shopping. Each city we visited would have outdoor markets. We even visited a shop in Chefchaouen where they wove the famed Berber blankets right there in front of us on a large, hand operated loom. Just remember to bring plenty of cash if you are going to Morocco, as they don’t accept credit card in almost all places.
5. Experiencing life in a predominantly Muslim country
I had never really thought about how living in a predominantly Christian country affected my daily life and experiences, so it was fascinating to witness the differences in a Muslim country. Our guide for the weekend was even kind enough to answer all of our questions regarding things like prayer times, holidays, and clothing. I have been to so many countries, but in this way, Morocco was unlike any other I have visited. Before this trip, I really couldn’t picture it. Now I can, and I am so happy to have had my worldview expanded in this way.