An Eco-Cultural Expedition of Morocco
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.