March 7, 2013 by cmcguigan91
So… I went to Africa last weekend. Wow. Never thought I’d be saying that! I went with a bunch of friends through an organization called Discover Excursions. They organized everything: travel, guides, hotel, food… Especially in Morocco, it was great to have all of that taken care of, and I felt totally safe the entire time! It was a lot of travel but definitely worth it. This post is going to be long, but I have to include tons of pictures!
Friday morning I packed all my stuff into a backpack (including 2 huge bottles of water- you can’t drink the water in Morocco) and went to meet the bus at 8am. We took an indirect route, stopping in Seville to pick up more people, before finally getting to Algeciras and taking the ferry over to Tanger, passing by Gibraltar on the way!
On the bus ride to the hotel our local guide taught us some Arabic words and told us a little bit about the history of Morocco. It was super interesting. Morocco is a developing country but it has come so far in the past few years! Education is now mandatory, and women have more rights than ever. Before, women used to get married around age 14 but now the legal age is 18 and men can’t have more than one wife without the wife’s consent. Most women don’t get married until they are in their twenties, and more women hold high government positions. All because of education. Awesome!
We got to the hotel in Tetouan around 7pm- which is really 8pm Spanish time. It was a long day! At the hotel they served us a dinner of salad, couscous, and fruit for dessert! (Don’t worry, of course I took pictures of all the food I ate). During dinner some men came in traditional dress and danced and performed for us. Cool!
Saturday morning we woke up early, ate breakfast at the hotel, and set off for the blue city of Chefchaouen!
On the bus I just looked out the window and thought, “Am I really in Africa?!”
The landscape in northern Morocco is very green. There are many hills and winding roads. Cows, sheep, and donkeys are everywhere, and as we passed through the towns there would often be groups of men just standing in front of a shop talking and watching the bus drive by.
I was a little underwhelmed when we got to Chefchaouen- it didn’t appear as blue as I expected- but as we moved through the winding roads the colors were stunningly beautiful.
As we learned on our walking tour, the white color is for the sun, and the indigo color is for keeping mosquitos away. Everything was blue and it was fun to walk through the town. It’s hard to describe… a million shades of blue, shops lining the streets, stray cats, donkeys, and children running around. We had lunch at a hotel and then had free time to shop and bargain.
Bartering is exhausting! I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was getting cheated- especially because I’m an American. When I bought a blanket the woman only spoke French and Arabic and I can only speak Spanish and English… we ended up just writing down numbers on a piece of paper. The currency in Morocco is dirham, but they also accept euros. 10 dirham is equal to about 1 euro. I bought my blanket for 110 dirham… figure that one out! I wanted to get more stuff but I felt too pressured. If you even looked at something for a second the vendors would immediately start yelling out numbers. It definitely made me appreciate set prices.
After hours of bargaining, we went back to the hotel for dinner. I went to bed early after an exhausting day!
The next day we packed in a lot before we had to return to Spain. We took the bus to Tangiers and got to ride camels! When the camel stood up it felt like I was going to tumble off. It was a short ride, and bumpy. Camel ride on a beach in Africa- I can check that one off my bucket list! The camels didn’t seem too happy to have to stand up and lay down every 5 minutes. When I tried to get off the one next to me hit me in the head! The guy said it was just a besito… ha!
After the came ride we walked down to the beach! It was such a gorgeous day I had to take off my shoes and walk in the water. The other side of the Atlantic!! I found some beautiful sea glass and enjoyed the sun and the sand.
Next we went to Cabo Spartel. This is the place where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. The water was the most beautiful shades of blue. There were vendors there too so I bartered with one for a cute little camel to remember my trip!
Close by are the Caves of Hercules. This is said to be the place where Hercules once slept. It’s a huge cave, half natural and half man made. There is an opening to the water that is shaped exactly like the map of Africa, but flipped. It even has Madagascar!
Then we traveled to Asilah. Every year Asilah holds a mural-painting festival and artists from all over come to paint murals on the walls. It’s another beautiful Moroccan city and we spent a few hours there exploring.
Finally we took the bus back to the port to head back to Spain. The ferry ride was one of the worse boat rides I’ve ever experienced. There was a storm and boat was rocking like crazy and water was even coming in the cabin! It was a huge ferry too, and everyone was getting sick! It was awful! It seems like hours before we made it back to Spain. After that there was a long bus ride back to Granada. I finally got back to my house around 6am. I decided not to sleep since I had to be up soon for an 8:30 class. Thank goodness for siesta!
I know I say this a lot, but I can’t believe how incredibly lucky I am. I give thanks every day that I have these opportunities to learn so much about the world around me. I consider Granada my home. It’s a part of me, and has shaped who I am, just like every other place that I’ve lived. It’s made me realize that even when I’m not doing something crazy like shipping over to Africa for a weekend trip, I am still the luckiest girl in the world. Life is incredible, and we have the potential to do such amazing things. Just like our experiences shape us, we shape the world around us. Maravilloso.