There is always a very loaded anxiety before traveling. I’m spending a month traveling through Spain, Tunisia, and Morocco prior to starting the program. Upon talking about my travel plans with friends and family, I get a lot of questions like: “Where are you going? How will you get from place to place? What will you do when you’re there? What research have you done about each of the locations? What kinds of shoes will you wear? Who will you meet while you’re there? What is the first thing you will do when you get there? Are you scared?” It’s … overwhelming. Honestly, I think other people have given me more anxiety about my travel plans than naturally occurs when I think about my travel.
As far as I was concerned, when I stepped into the security line and away from my parents, all I was doing was getting ready to go sit at a gate. And after I sat at the gate, I would go step on a plane. And after that plane landed, I would step into another gate. Then I would get my bags; then I’d buy a bus ticket; then I’d step on the bus; then I’d step off the bus; then I’d walk to my hostel; then I’d check in. All this doesn’t entail a great deal of bravery, in my opinion. But by the time I arrived at my hostel in Valencia, Spain, after 20 long hours of travel, all these questions were weighing on me. It was eight o’clock, and I had hiked my 40-pound pack halfway across the city from the bus station in the dark, and I was in a tiny bed in a tiny room with five other people. Why did I do this? Why didn’t I decide to travel to fewer cities in a smaller amount of time and stay in a hotel, where I could have some alone time? I was more or less having a toddler tantrum — I was tired, and this was harder than I expected. I went to bed.
I woke up the next morning (after sleeping for about 11 hours), and I had breakfast, and I took a shower, and I walked outside. And I remembered why I did this. The hostel is about a block away from el Catedral de Valencia, so I walked out to the plaza it overlooks and sat and read the New York Times. I just spent the last year serving as editor-in-chief of my school’s newspaper, which entailed about 80 hours of work (on top of my classes) and a great deal of stress. Being able to wake up, walk out onto a beautiful plaza, and read the paper was quite a luxury.
Feeling excited by my newfound free time, I decided to do a little research and learn about where Morocco stands with regard to other African countries when it comes to tourism. It turns out that Morocco is pretty significantly outpaced in terms of international entrants per capita by several sub-Saharan countries (Namibia, Swaziland, and Botswana) and Tunisia. That said, in terms of the raw number of international entrants, Morocco tops the list for Africa (just recently outstripping Egypt, likely due to the Arab spring). Check out the interactive map I made about tourism in Africa!
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<p>Hi there, I’m Emma, and I’m from Hinsdale, IL. I’m a senior at Brown University studying computer science and Middle Eastern studies. No, you are not the first person to tell me I should work for the CIA. I like stories, and I like data. I like combining them even more. Follow my blog for an in-depth look at Moroccan culture!</p>