Not Enough Words

Cynthia Velazquez
June 19, 2014

There is absolutely no way that 500 words are enough to describe my first week here in Morocco.  There is just so much that happened within the span of a week that it doesn’t even seem like it was just a week ago that I arrived at the Rabat-Salé airport. We spent the first night here in Rabat at the Hotel Balima, which faced the parliament building. That was pretty cool. After that we have stayed with our host families in the city’s medina.

The medina is a completely different place from the city. The houses are so close to each other and they have some pretty awesome doors. It doesn’t matter if the doors are tiny or huge; they are all so much more interesting than the ones back home. However, the medina is a tricky place. It all looks the SAME.  Anyways, the medina is pretty awesome but I believe the highlight of this week would be our weekend trip to Fez, Meknes, and Volubilis. When we arrived in Fez on Friday evening and after taking some time to eat dinner and swim in the pool (which, by the way, was a lot deeper than what it looked like) we went out to a café in the medina. Café Clock is a small café that host cultural events such as cooking classes and jam sessions. When we went there was a photograph exhibition by Moussa Idrissi. We had milkshakes and coffee and spent some time getting to know each other. It was all good fun but we had to return to the hotel to get some sleep before staring a tour of the city the next morning.

Fez is such a beautiful city. Its medina is even more impressive. From far away, Fez looks like a dead city; so silent and still. However, once you walk through one of its splendid gates it comes alive with the sounds of the market. We visited the tanneries (kind of smelly, really awesome), the textile sector, the market, a Jewish synagogue, and a fort outside the city. But while this was all really interesting, the real learning experience came afterwards. We were taken to the Hamman. The Hamman are the Moroccan public baths. Let’s just say that this is a really eye-opening experience. I believe that America in general is taught to have a very strong sense of personal space and so this was an experience that went against all of that. For a culture that is says that women should not expose themselves, the hamman is the literal embodiment of the opposite of that principle. The women are so comfortable with their bodies and those of others that it didn’t bother them when they were scrubbing our bodies. It was really one of those experiences that you never forget because it is so starkly different from what we as Americans are used to. (Also, I didn’t know I had that much dead skin.)

To summarize Meknes and Volubilis I only have one word: HOT. But in both cities I received a history lesson from our local tour guides that you really can’t get from just reading a textbook or a Wikipedia article.

Ok, this is a lot more than 500 words. Oops.



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Cynthia Velazquez

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I am a sophomore studying at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In my free time I like to spend time with friends and family. I also enjoy going out to town and trying new things, such as food and activities. I like to explore new places. I am excited to be studying in Rabat this summer and I hope that blogging about it will help record all the experiences I hope to have.</span></p>

2014 Summer 1, 2014 Summer 2
Home university:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Biological Sciences
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