I’m sitting at home now, on a couch by a window that looks out into a cul-de-sac, but I remember a window from which I could see chickens, pigeons, clotheslines, and in the distance, the ocean. It’s hard to believe that the same person has looked through both windows; it’s harder still to believe that person is me.
Morocco was far different from what I expected, a conglomeration of culture and language completely new to me and yet overwhelmingly friendly, helpful, and kind. The traffic was wild and fast-paced, but the people sitting in the driver’s seat weren’t. They, like their friends and family sitting outside cafes and restaurants, lived life like they drank their tea: slow enough to savor every bit.
The people of Morocco taught me how to surf, how to sip hot tea (and make it, too), how to eat strategically without plates or silverware and how to live a little bit more on the edge. The country of Morocco showed me that there are whole new worlds out there I never knew: worlds filled with enormous blue gates that lead into old cities, beautiful gardens hiding magnificently painted blue and yellow houses, beaches set between icy cold water and warm, sugary donuts. It was the adventure of a lifetime.
When I arrived in Morocco, I was terrified beyond belief, and even more so when my name was called first to be picked up by my host family. I climbed into the car behind my host brother, and he introduced me to everyone, saying, “This is your mom, your dad, and I am your brother. You are not a guest this month, you are a part of the family!” I immediately wondered what I had been so scared of; my host family was delightful.
Every day, I would wake up early to the chickens and pigeons that my family kept in the backyard rustling their feathers and shifting around, and then I would feel the cool ocean air flow in through the window. It never rained while I was there, but every morning there was a cool mist that was close enough to the rain I missed so much from home. I would creep past my sleeping siblings in the living room, take a quick shower, and sneak past them once more to eat the breakfast that my host mother had set out for me at the kitchen table: sweet bread with cream cheese and hot tea, of course.
I left every morning to pick up two classmates who lived nearby and together we would hail a taxi that, hopefully, would not only be empty but friendly as well. Class was always busy and frantic, a fast-paced, unstructured, high-standards environment that scared me at first, but I eventually adapted. It was a much different teaching style than I was used to, but because I was exposed to it for a month, I feel much better prepared for classes at home.
I had never had shawarma before visiting Morocco, but the street-food spot on the corner by Amideast made me re-think my life and why it had taken me so long to try it. They filled theirs with fresh vegetables, chicken, and fries, and it was one third the price of the McDonald’s that was next door. Between this little hole in the wall and a juice café a few streets over (and the occasional KFC from down the block- you caught me) my lunches were filling and delicious.
Most late afternoons and early evenings were filled with studying and repetitive re-writings of vocabulary words and grammar structures in order to keep up with the ever-demanding rigors of this new teaching style, but it was always well rewarded with a delicious dinner from my host mom. Plenty of tea and bread, as well as freshly sliced vegetables, chicken, and the occasional watermelon made the cut on most nights.
I didn’t ever have trouble sleeping in my host home. Every day was packed to the brim, and weekends were even busier with frantic train stations in other cities, old medinas, and minty tea. During my time in Morocco, I was able to explore Rabat, Fes, Marrakesh, Mohammedia, Meknes, Volubilis, and Casablanca, all in one month! I slept well when I returned home, too.
I will miss Morocco, but I’m so thankful that as I look out of this window into this familiar cul-de-sac, I can imagine another beautiful country filled with wonderful people and incredible cities. I have memories that I hope and pray will never leave; my journal and postcards and suitcase-breaking souvenirs will help, I suppose. I’m so thankful I was able to spend a month in Morocco, but I’m so grateful for the chance to have seen it at all; I am so lucky and undeservingly blessed.
Until next time, Morocco.