A Couple of Tangier Group Shots from Emma
In Tangier, Rooftop
Farewell Dinner in Tangier
In Tangier, Rooftop
Farewell Dinner in Tangier
A group photo with students at the American Language Center-Tangier roundtable
Right before boots on-the-ground....
The "Diving Board" near the group's campsite. No lifeguard on duty= no diving. Assurances given that the ledge was much wider than it appears in this photo. The illusion makes for a masterful shot.
Encountering locals digging for clay while on trek. The clay will be used to make a wood-fired stove.
On Trek and Digging It!
Katie and Tim with Chefchaouen in the background
At the ruins of Le Tour Hassan in Rabat
Danielle and the group putting a fresh sheen on the "marabout" (Sufi Saint's Tomb)
Trekking through golden wheat fields
Group in Tangier, with Abdul, pre-departure
Emma in front of a mosque in the Tangier Kasbah
The group in a guided tour of Tangier's "medina"
A Colorful Close to the Program: Sunset over Tangier
Joanne gets a helping "hand" from a mule during an ascent
Katie and Russ on a miniature rock-climb
A break to enjoy the Riffian wildflowers and wilderness
The beckoning path from Chefchaouen to Zawiya Habteene; a friendly country canine, Thilj ("snow"), joined the group for a good portion
The group helps repaint a "marabout" (Sufi Saint's Tomb) as part of a service project
While in The Rif, the group had a cooking workshop orienting them on how to prepare "Mmlaawi"--a popular Moroccan-style crepe/pancake. Here are images of Grace, Katie, and Tim trying out for Top Chef - Zawiya Habteene:
In my mind Tangier represents everything that epitomizes a seaport: a cosmopolitan veneer covering the hustle and bustle of trade in all things both licit and illicit. Thus in nearly every way Tangier contrasts with the rest of Morocco particularly with Fes and the cities of the interior which are known for their renowned arts and culture and also their conservatism. Its medina is a study in contrasts from those of Fes and Chefchaouen only fifty miles away, As we end our trip it is fitting that we end in Tangier which has witnessed so many comings and goings over the centuries It is a return to the hectic modern world of commerce that the US in many ways embodies. As the sun sets on our last day in Morocco, I long for those uncomplicated nights in the mountains of the Rif where for a brief moment I could enjoy the unspoiled beauty of Northern Morocco. I guess I will just have to come back.
After a very long travel day from the Rif mountains, the group has made it to Tangier for the final 2 nights of the program. TBTB. As in Too Beat To Blog. But look out for an entry/photo or two tomorrow, en shallah.
A brief message to relay that the group has finished its trek and returned to the village of Zawiya Habteene this afternoon. After lunch, naps, and rejuvenating showers, the group painted a marabout's tomb and is ready for the final phase of the program: Tangier. More once they arrive there tomorrow.
"After a great hike", the group has reached Kaf el Barod where they will soak in the scenery and encamp for the night. Spirits are high and Katie reports all are "chipper". They will return to Zawiya Habteene tomorrow via an alternate trail.
We received a message today that the group has reached the village of Zawiya Habteene in Talassemtane National Park after starting in Chefchaouen. After a challenging but enjoyable hike, the group was lounging under a tent enjoying the mountainous setting. A delicious couscous lunch in the village was a welcome restorative. Tomorrow they will continue their trek to Kaf el Barod. Rest of today is for well-earned downtime, exploration of the village, and perhaps some leisurely mint tea with locals. A welcome rural respite from the Fes medina indensity (intensity-density).
In just a few hours, the group will rise early Saturday and begin their 3 day trek in the Rif Mountains, a less traveled wilderness of Morocco where locals, not tourists, are the norm. The landscape, the region's unique history and indigenous culture, its self-sufficient inhabitants with traditional dress, the opportunity to stay with a village family, and a community service project involving the repainting of a Sufi saint's tomb (marabout) will all make for an exceptional 72 hours. It's likely that the group will not have cell service in the back country so we may not have an update until they exit from their trek on June 1. However, if we receive a report between now and then, we will certainly post it.
The group enjoys a guided tour of Chefchaouen's "medina"
More Chefchaouen touring
Katie with the holy village of Moulay Idriss in the background
Russ and Tim with their Fes home-stay host, Moustafa
Emma, Jade, and Danielle at the Rabat train station
Salaam Alaykum!!! The highlight of our trip has definitely been our homestay at the medina in Fes. We stayed with a family of five and the daughter Senae luckily speaks spanish so we were able to practice with her. on our last night she took us through the medina and led us through the area where her family shops away from the beaten path. we were able to meet and bargain with a family friend who owned a store and after talking for a while the fourth call to worship sounded from the minaret and the shop owner took us along with Senae to see the mosque where he worships. on the way out we ran into a few relatives... we were able to gain a new perspective on the community by shedding our backpacks and experiencing the streets with an local.this morning it was very hard to leave such a wonderful host family from who we learned so much. we will not easily forget these past few days in Fes and will definitely be keeping in touch!!!
b'salaama (With Peace) from emma and grace
Katie and others check out the mosaics at the Roman ruins of Volubilis
I can't believe we are halfway through our trip. Almost every preconceived notion I had coming into Morocco has been broken, which continues to remind me of how much I have left to learn. My favorite cities have been Fes and Chefchaouen. I feel like I'm stepping back in time when we explore the medinas, but our backpacks and cameras remind me what year it is. On our way to Fes our train broke down but it was a blessing in disguise because it allowed us to have great conversations with Moroccans in Arabic, Spanish, English, and Italian. Our homestays gave us the opportunity to see inside the personal lives and space of Moroccans that many other tourists never have the opportunity to see. We shared meals and tea with our families and I drew pictures with my host sister. We also had the opportunity to visit a shelter for boys. Even though many of us could not communicate with language, we played games with them, which reminded us how much you can communicate without words. Each day reminds me how much I love to travel and I can't wait to explore this region more.
Jade's shot of Fes' famous tanneries
When we arrived in Fes I was not quite sure what to expect. Sure I had the itinerary but the idea of a homestay was a little intimidating. However, once I walked through our host families door, there was an overwhelming sense of familiarity. Our host families mother was preparing dinner, while the children played outside and her eldest daughter who is very close to my age arrived from work.
During dinner we discussed school, work, politics and the differences and similarities in our cultures. By the end of the first night I felt like I was in the presence of family.
At the end of our stay I was excited about our next city, but there was definitely a feeling of sadness. Before I walked out the door, our host mother said in Arabic, " I don't want you to leave, but i'll see you when you return Insha Allah"
I will definitely return--the experience was invaluable.
Emma's view of Hassan II mosque in Casablanca
Emma's view of a Fes Alley
Group at Hassan II Mosque Casa
Visiting a Weaver in the Fes medina
Breakfast in Rabat
Group with Gharab (Water seller) at Bab Boujeloud in Fes
Group at Dar Ahli Boys' Shelter in Fes
The group gets serenaded in Arabic at a Fes preschool
The group has been so busy exploring Casablanca, Rabat, and Fes that we haven't had time to stop and share any of our adventures with all of you back home. After wonderful visits to both the Hassan II mosque and the Jewish Museum in Casablanca we drove to Rabat where everyone tasted their first tagines. We just happened to pass by the best ice cream shop in Rabat on the way back to the hotel and ended our first day in Morocco with this a treat. Rabat was full of touring some of the sites, pondering the pirates who lived in the area years ago, and learning more about the work of the U.S. State Department in Morocco.
Our first full day in Fes has been a busy one. We were given a four hour tour by a fabulous local guide, played games with young boys at a home for street children, and then settled in with our homestay families. More exciting adventures and blog posts to come. Inchallah.
The Bab Boujeloud, one of several entrances to the Fes "medina", in celebratory attire for its recent 1200 yr anniversary
A train journey that would "normally" take 3.5 hours instead took 6 (consider the surplus an opportunity for a dozen refills of mint tea), but our intrepid Morocco travelers did ultimately make their way to Fes this evening. After checking into their traditional "Dar" (literally "home" but often an inn) in the medina ("old city"), the likely ravenous ones convened for a welcome dinner at Cafe Clock--home of the famous, tasty Camel Burger and gathering for cross-cultural events. More to come directly from individuals tomorrow, en shallah (God willing).
After a good, long, full first day, the group has made its way to Rabat, Morocco's capital, for the night where sleep beckons. On tap for tomorrow: an exclusive briefing at the US Embassy; a brief tour of Rabat and notable monuments; then on to Fes, Morocco's "spiritual capital". All are in "high spirits" according to Katie. Nice way to start the journey. More soon.
Flying to Morocco you say.... And the response is usually filled with concern about airplane food, packed flights, overheated cabins, long hours sitting and lines lines lines. But with the proper set of expectations set, the going to and coming home can be a fun adventure in itself. I actually look forward to the hours of "me time" where I can sleep, eat, read, learn about the person sitting next to me, or just relax and breath into the beginning of an exciting adventure.
The flight here to Casablanca did take many hours and was crowded and was overheated and was punctuated with long lines in security and passport control. But that is traveling and impossible to eliminate in today's travel climate filled with personal and national security concerns.
So my advice is to lean into the flight, explore the people traveling around you, seek out new and exciting differences at airports and try to understand the myriad of languages and cultures surrounding you.
It is great to finally be in Morocco, but the trip was part and parcel of this beginning! Next step, getting my backpack that I will have to carry around for the next 12 days! Bring it on!!!
We received a quick text message from Katie stating that the group has landed safely in Casablanca and has made its way to the magnificent Hassan II mosque for a tour--and has successfully rendezvoused with Jade, Danielle, and Bryana who arrived a day early. If time allows, they'll also visit the Jewish Museum (the only one of its kind in the Arab World) before making their way to Rabat for the evening. Nice warm weather (77F) and blue skies have greeted all. Check back for periodic updates/dispatches during this program's 12 day journey....
France moves to fine Muslim women with full-face Islamic veils
By Edward Cody
Thursday, May 20, 2010; A09
PARIS -- The French government decided Wednesday to impose a $185 fine on women who wear a full-face Islamic veil in public, pushing ahead with a controversial ban despite signs of tension between France's Muslims and the Christian-tradition majority.
President Nicolas Sarkozy said his government was forwarding the legislation to parliament because it had a "moral responsibility" to uphold traditional European values in the face of an increasingly visible Muslim population, estimated at more than 5 million, the largest in Western Europe. He called the course chosen by his government "demanding" but "just," and he said the law was not intended to stigmatize Muslims.
Although not directly pertinent to Morocco, given its historical support of a Palestinian (and Arab) - Israeli dialogue and push for peace, this is an excellent and revealing article relevant to all "players and observers in the region". Written by Peter Beinert for the June 10, 2010 issue of The New York Review of Books
The latest coverage on this progressive development from The Vancouver Sun
By Lamine Ghanmi
Elton John will headline Morocco's biggest music festival this week despite calls by religious conservatives for the gay singer to be turned away, the event's organizer said.
Allowing the British singer and songwriter to perform at the Mawazine World Rhythms festival in the capital Rabat would tarnish the image of the north African kingdom, say powerful opposition Islamists.
The writer of "Candle in the Wind '97"', the best-selling single of all time, according to the Guinness Book of Records, has championed sexual freedom and campaigned against the spread of AIDS during a four-decade musical career.
"Elton John is one of the best artists in the world. He is great and extraordinary when he appears on stage. That's why we invite him and welcome him to the Mawazine festival," festival director Aziz Daki told Reuters.
"The private life of a singer is not our business. We do not invite singers and artists after assessing their private lives."
The festival, backed by Morocco's King Mohammed, brings together musicians from 50 countries and has drawn criticism from Islamists who say such events encourage promiscuity and alcohol consumption, corrupting Islamic values.
"We asked the government to exclude this person from the list of artists invited to this festival. This man -- sorry, I should say this person, not this man -- is known for bragging about his homosexuality," said Mustapha Ramid, a leading parliamentarian from the opposition Islamist PJD party.
"Morocco is an Islamic state where stages should not used to allow a person with such a degree of debauchery to perform because we have to shield the young from such influences," said Ramid.
Khalil Hachemi Idrissi, editor of the French-language daily Aujourd'hui Le Maroc, said: "Such a point of view, if we do not pay enough attention, will quickly turn Morocco into an ostracised country among civilized nations."
Liberal intellectuals see the calls to scrap Elton John from the festival line-up as part of an attempt by religious conservatives to reverse the modernization of Morocco.
Daki said attendance at the festival would be the "ultimate answer" to critics.
Mawazine runs from May 21 to 29 and is due to feature over 100 musicians including Britain's Mika, Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias and Lebanese star Elissa.
(Editing by Reed Stevenson)
Copyright 2010 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Copyright © 2010 ABC News Internet Ventures
Hey Everyone! My name is Grace Atchue and I'm a freshman in the college. I'm undeclared which basically means I have no idea what I want to do, but I do know I'm very interested in Islamic culture and French. I first encountered Morocco after traveling through Spain, so I've wanted to travel there ever since! Though my main activity for most of my life has been ballet, I have also gone on many community service trips doing anything from doing Katrina relief in Biloxi, Mississippi, to building a children's school in Puerto Rico, to multiple Habitat for Humanity trips right next door in Sandtown, Baltimore. In free time I enjoy running, yoga, doing anything outdoors, and traveling. I'm extremely excited for this trip and I can't wait to see everyone!
My name is Emma Barnes and I am a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. My taste for travel began during my ten years growing up in England; I have since lived seven years in Long Beach, CA but now consider myself a Philadelphian (minus the cheesesteaks, I'm vegetarian). Within my International Relations major my area of interest is North Africa and the Middle East. I am almost fluent in Spanish but this trip to Morocco will be the perfect introduction to Arabic, which I will begin to study in the fall. After graduating I would like to work in a job that incorporates my interests in legal studies, anthropology, and political science; although my mother is not too fond of the idea, a foreign embassy would be my first choice! Upon returning in June I will conduct research with the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philly. For the moment however, I am most excited about trying out my new trekking backpack and mummy sleeping bag!
I am a graduate student at Georgetown University. I am working on my master's in Diversity and Inclusion. I thought this trip would be a great way to experience diversity! I am so glad to be a part of this trip! It gives me a chance to see a place I have always dreamed of visiting and I get to spend time and build friendships with new people. My best friend Danielle Nanton will be joining us which is amazing for me. She lives in New York and I am in Washington, DC so we had to take a trip to Morocco to spend time together :)
I am looking forward to meeting all of you and experiencing an enchanting country!
Audio from Elsewhere
Buckle up for Fes with this amazing soundscape of the medina produced by "Pulse of the Planet"...do as the announcer suggests...turn out the lights and turn up the volume:“Sounds from the old city of Fes”
Katie (Global LAB), Jade, Grace, Katie, and Russ (GUOE) get amped for North Africa (Tim, not pictured, left early for FL)
On a cool, dreary spring evening, several of us met at the Georgetown Outdoor Ed "Base Camp" to conjure up Moroccan sun and warmth--and review the itinerary, answer questions on what to expect in home-stays, discuss local cultural practices and norms, and review health & safety guidelines. It was great to attach faces to emails, finally, and learn what attracted each to this Morocco program. All agreed to bring on May 23rd sooner than later. Well, once finals are done and equilibrium restored. Joanne, Emma, Bryana, and Danielle: we missed you and look forward to meeting you in Casa!
Hi everyone! My name is Danielle Nanton. I do not attend Georgetown, but my best friend, Jade Kearney does. She was kind enough to invite me, so I wouldn’t dare pass up an opportunity like this. I love to travel, but I’ve never been outside of North America. Never in a million years did I imagine myself trekking through Morocco; experiencing its culture and history first hand, but in less than two weeks that will be me. I am so excited! This trip will be filled with new experiences and wonderful memories. Thank you all for this opportunity. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you.
Hi everyone. My name is Katie Green, and I am counting down the days for our Moroccan adventure. I love to travel, try new things, explore new places, be outdoors, encounter new cultures, eat good food, and (attempt to) understand political conflicts. So basically, this trip has everything I am looking for. I am a sophomore CULP (Culture & Politics) major focusing in international development, specifically for women. I have never been to Morocco, nor anywhere in North Africa, nor really anywhere on that side of the world, so to say I am excited for this trip is an understatement. I can't wait to meet all of you and share an incredible experience together.
A travel article from the New York Times that should be of special interest to Danielle and Jade given their early arrival into Casablanca a day before the rest of the group. Check out Casa's contemporary art scene devoid of the cliched imagery....
Hi, I'm Joanne Doherty. Yes, I'm Tim's Mom. Don't worry, I won't be your chaperone! This will my second time to Morocco. Since Tim was there last year, working at the U.S. Consulate, my husband and I, along with Tim's brother, Ted and his girlfriend, decided to make it a family vacation! We wanted to take advantage of Tim and his talents being our tour guide...he had us going from one end of Morocco to the other! We, actually Tim and I, truly had a wonderful time. I won't go into detail just yet. I enjoy to travel and my husband (Brian)...does NOT. We've been married for 30 years! As a stay-at-home Mom, it gave me great joy in raising the boys..husband included..Now it's time to go places!....thankfully, Tim doesn't mind me traveling with him. Can't wait to meet everyone and create wonderful memories....btw, you'll love Morocco!
Forecasts for every city on our itinerary can be found on Weather Underground. As for our time in The Rif Mountains, expect average highs of 84F and lows of 64F, but be prepared for extremes on either end of the spectrum.
A provocative opinion in The Atlantic on Morocco's battle with extremists.
Please review the latest recommendations from CDC for Morocco travelers, including vaccine guidance.
Hello! Russ Watts here, aka Director of Outdoor Education, Georgetown University.My story goes kind of like this: Russ is an accomplished outdoorsman who paid his way through college at UC-Davis guiding for Outdoor Adventures guiding rock climbing, sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez and British Columbia, hiking, backpacking and teaching mountaineering throughout the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. He has lead a life of adventure that has included climbing many peaks including many of the Cascades, Denali and numerous other things in Mexico, Italy, Africa, Austria, and Switzerland. He has enjoyed fishing during sunrise and sunset of the Sea of Cortez, as well as collecting oysters in the sounds up in BC Canada. He has rock climbed here and there in the States, Europe and Africa. Around Georgetown he spends a lot of time kayaking on the Potomac, scrambling around our local rocks, and leading trips to far off places like Italy (Sicily, Tuscany and the Dolomites), Scotland, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, France, and Nicaragua. In his "day job" capacities at Georgetown he oversees the entire Outdoor Education program. His first and only visit to Morocco was in 1990 when he and some fellow travelers took the Marrakech Express from Tangier to Marrakech and spent a week enjoying the wonderful food and sights in that area. He then spend a week in Essaouira eating fresh caught fish and wandering the streets and markets. Following Morocco, he found his way around Europe visiting his native country Czechoslovakia, and then explored England, Portugal, France, Hungary, Austria and Germany. His passion for travel can only be compared to his passion for diverse foods, cultures and great stories. I am very excited to explore Morocco with you all!!!
I am Tim Doherty, your Georgetown student guide for the Morocco Trip. I am a rising senior in the School of Foreign Service studying Middle East Regional Studies. I am from Simi Valley, California and my interests include gardening, hiking, horseback riding, and everything having to do with the Middle East. Really all that means is that I am way too interested in the Arab World than is healthy or normal. I have been to Morocco twice before this current trip. In the summer of 2008, I studied at Al Akhawayn University in the beautiful resort town of Ifrane in the Middle Atlas Mountains. Then in 2009, I went back to Morocco for an internship at the Public Affairs Department of the US Consulate in Casablanca. This only whetted my appetite, for after three months in relative comfort and modernity of Casablanca, I went to teach English at a small town in the Middle Atlas called Azrou for another three months. Although I ended up not teaching much English, I learned a ton about Morocco while living with an absolutely amazing local family. Then on the weekend, me and my girlfriend, Annie Lippitt, would travel to various corners of Morocco by bus. We would take the Friday night bus from Azrou to wherever seemed cool in our ragged copy of the Lonely Planet: Morocco and usually arrive by dawn Saturday morning. Although this sometimes entailed sleeping on the floors of overcrowded buses, this way we saw basically every part of Morocco from the sand dunes of Merzouga to the Mediterranean Coast at Al Houceima. Some highlights include hiking the Todra and Dades Gorges, getting completely lost on mountain near Chefchaouen only to be guided by a shepherd, swimming on the completely deserted beaches of Northern Morocco, and watching the Sufi rites on the Prophet’s Birthday in Meknes. On our trip, I hope to impart some of these wonderful experiences and the knowledge I have gained about Morocco.
An interesting and encouraging blog entry from Katherine Marshall, Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Visiting Professor at Georgetown University.
Essential reading published by The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and The Conflict Management Program at SAIS. Download a copy of the report HERE
The accompanying article can be found HERE
THINK LIGHT! You will have to put whatever you bring onto the tops of buses/taixs and you will have to carry your bag for long distances. Here's a list of all that you will need to stay warm, dry, cool and comfortable. When packing, think layers and do your best to stay away from cotton (save T-shirts) because cotton takes a long time to dry. We recommend that you only bring what's listed here. The lighter you pack, the happier you--and the rest of the group--will be. There will be opportunities to do “self-service” laundry where we’ll be staying.
PLEASE NOTE: We strive to be model visitors, and therefore ask that students bring clothing that is lightweight and durable, but that also covers the body well, and looks respectable. Tie-dyed T-shirts, cut-off jeans, tight fitting leggings and tank tops are inappropriate, as they show disrespect for local cultures.
BACK PACK: Your main container to store your things. Something light weight and durable is best. An internal frame backpack functions well for easy mobility.
DAY PACK: For daily excursions (to carry camera, water bottle, jacket, notebook, etc).
Follows is a list of content in various media that will provide useful background for your upcoming tour and help contextualize your experiences. If time allows, borrow or purchase a few of these titles before your travels--try to coordinate with fellow travelers so these may be shared during the tour. Many libraries are likely to carry some of these as well. A short-list of highly recommended readings is asterisked (*).
Here is the very latest program itinerary, always subject to change in the spirit of adventure and our destination:
US to Morocco
Depart US to Casablanca, Morocco
Early Afternoon Arrival Casablanca
o Transfer from Casa airport to Hassan II Mosque
o Tour of Hassan II Mosque exterior
o Tour of Jewish Museum (time-permitting)
o Transfer from Casa to Rabat
o Hotel check-in (shared accommodations)
Katie at 13,665 feet: the summit of Mount Toubkal
I'm Katie Seckman--your fearless leader for what will be an exciting and highly-rewarding adventure in Morocco. After co-leading a Global LAB semester program through Morocco last fall, I'm greatly looked forward to returning with all of you and continuing to explore the mysteries and marvels of one of my favorite countries. After living in Colorado, I went on to graduate from Drake University with a degree in International Relations. From there, I ventured to Morocco as a Fulbright Scholar. My primary research was focused on the role of women in Moroccan politics, but I was also very fortunate to spend a great deal of time hiking, exploring life outside the cities, and improving my French and Arabic. All of you are in for a wonderful adventure and I am really looking forward to meeting and working with all of you.
Don't hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions/concerns/ or would like to chat prior to departure. I can be reached at email@example.com
Alex and tour driver, Mohamed, in The Rif
I was an anxious, rudderless college sophomore when he got the call. It was from Washington, DC—the State Department to be exact—and the beige rotary phone was ringing in a remote University of Texas at Austin professor’s office, some 1,500 miles plus away. This was 1986, and to me, 1,500 miles was a faraway place. Dr. James Bill politely and unpretentiously said, “Alex, have a seat. I need to take this call from State. They need some input—help, really—with their Iran policy.” Now this is pretty cool, I thought, eyes like saucers.
So this moment isn’t how I bit on the Morocco lure, but it represents my seminal brush with “The Middle East”. In reality, the geo-political conflicts drew me in. And how we, Americans, perceived—and misperceived—related—and unrelated—to this diverse and complex region rich in culture and history. For a 20 year old, the menu was overwhelming and fascinating at once: the US reaction to the Iranian Revolution; the intractable Arab and Palestinian conflict with Israel; the Iran-Iraq war; Qaddafi’s provocations in Libya; the civil war in Lebanon; the phenomenon of political Islam; how the Gulf States influenced the world economy—the challenges and kinetic energy seemed inexhaustible. I think you get the picture.
Casablanca * Rabat * Fes * Chefchaouen * The Rif * Tangier
Each time I go to a place I have not seen before, I hope it will be as different as possible from the places I already know.
–Paul Bowles, late author of The Sheltering Sky, composer, traveler, Morocco expatriate
A mere 17 miles south of Europe, across the Strait of Gibraltar, a very different experience awaits—an intriguing place of great contrast, color, culture, history, and hospitality. The late King Hassan II described Morocco’s complexity and essence best—“Rooted in Africa, watered by Islam and rustled by the winds of Europe”—and during our brief time here, we will encounter this country’s intriguing mélange. Through various guest lectures and roundtables, guided tours, cultural encounters, service learning, trekking, and intimate home-stay settings, we will uncover a layer of Morocco and Moroccans unrevealed to most visitors.
This educational itinerary will traverse: commercial Casablanca with its magnificent Hassan II mosque; the refined, cosmopolitan seaside capital of Rabat; Fes, with its timeless medina or “old city”, an Arab locus of commerce, religion, and art during the Middle Ages; the laid-back mountain village of Chefchaouen, famous for its picturesque, blue-on-whitewashed medina; the rugged wilderness of the Rif Mountains, home to peaks in excess of 8,000 ft and a traditional redoubt of the Imazighen (literally “The Free Men”), the indigenous peoples of North Africa, also referred to as “Berber”; and the bustling port– and cross-roads city of Tangier--itself in the midst of a makeover as Morocco's "10 million tourists for 2010" campaign goes full bore.
Since we’ll be covering much ground in such a short period and since we’ll be striving hard to research, engage, decipher, and document, there is a Moroccan proverb to keep in mind: “Little by Little, the Camel goes into the Couscous.” By travel’s end, we’ll only have tasted our first few grains. Spicy, sophisticated, and no doubt delicious, but much more will remain to savor in the future.