iHola a todos!
Just a few hours ago I arrived back in Madrid from one of the most memorable weekend of my life. This week I was given the opportunity to travel to another continent! On Wednesday my friends and I left for a five-day trip to Morocco and I must say the country itself was nothing like I had imagine.
Initially, I had no plans to visit Morocco or Africa during my study abroad period. After reading countless news and learning about the country’s strict laws, I was not sure if I wanted to travel there for safety and security reasons. However, my teachers and friends convinced me otherwise. I also realized that when will I be given an opportunity like this again.
I was not sure of what to expect of Morocco before the trip. Aside from my general knowledge about Morocco’s culture and religion, I knew very little about their lifestyle. The past five days proved to me how ignorant my initial expectations were.
From Algeciras, Spain, we took a ferry to Ceuta which is another Spanish city on the northern coast of Africa. For the next five days, we traveled via bus or camel throughout Morocco. Our first official stop was to the city of Fez, one of the most famous cities in the country. In the historic center of Fez lies the largest medina in the world. As a UNESCO World Heritage, Fes el Bali or Old Fez is the oldest walled part in the city. In the medina, we visited the markets, the oldest university in the world, ceramic and textile workshops, and the Madrasa Bou Inania. My friends told me it was during this first part of the tour that they experienced culture shock again, however, I felt the complete opposite. Seeing the market stalls and how people lived inside the medina reminded me of my childhood in Vietnam. While the two countries are perhaps a world away from each other, I can’t help but feel a connection as I walked through the streets of Fez.
Traveling from the north to the south of Morocco, I got to see how diverse each of the cities were. Growing up, I had thought Africa was simply a vast and endless desert due to it being the most popular stereotype. Being able to witness the vast greeneries, fields, mountains, oasis, and creeks in this beautiful country were one of the best parts of this trip. Another highlight of this trip was the Merzouga Desert and the giant sand dunes. To get to the campsite, we rode on camels through the desert. Unexpectedly, it rained while we were on our way there. While it was quite cold, to be able to witness rain in the desert was something I will never forget. We spent the night in the desert while watching the sunset, listening to Moroccan music, and relaxing by the bonfire. Perhaps the best thing that happened that night was watching the stars on the dunes. The last time I saw real stars like those was when I was a little kid. To be out in nature and disconnecting myself from the world for a while was something I needed.
This trip was a humbling experience and unlike none I have ever been on before. Not only did I get to bond with my friends, I also met individuals on this trip that has since become family. Spending five days without any distractions from the outside world allowed me to see the beauty of simply living in the moment.
Song of the week: “Let’s Go” – Khalid