Camels, Henna, and Lots and Lots of Blue Stuff: Morocco!

Hallie Bates
April 24, 2014

A few weeks ago, I went on an incredible trip with IES Abroad to Morocco for 5 days. Although I could probably write an entire book about all of the things we experienced, I’ll stick to the highlights for the sake of brevity :)

We started our trip in the northern city of Tangier, where we stayed the night and explored the Medina with our guides. The city was beautiful, although very different from anywhere I’d ever been. The most striking difference I noticed concerned the gender relationships of the country. Almost every woman we saw was wearing either a burka or a hijab, and only men went to the cafes. As a group, we stuck out like a sore thumb, and got lots of stares. Despite this, everyone was very friendly and welcoming, and I immediately felt at home in the new country. Our second day in Tangier, we visited a women’s center called Darna, which was committed to teaching women in the area basic skills (weaving, rug-making, etc.) to help them be more self-sustainable and independent. It was incredible to see these women working together and bonding, and we had a very interesting discussion over lunch with several female students about what it was like to be a woman in Morocco.

Beautiful city of Tangier! This was the view from our hotel.

Loom at the Darna women’s center.

Couscous for lunch! Just don’t eat it with your left hand…

Some of the products the women had made – each of these pillows says, “Thanks, mother” in a different language!

After spending some time in Tangier, we headed south, stopping along the way for a camel ride on the beach!

Riding a camel in the rain!

Made a friend.

We stopped in another small town along the way, which had some incredible graffiti by El Niño de las Pinturas, a famous artist in this area.

Amazing mural by el Niño.

Eventually, we arrived in Rabat and all got settled with our host families. In Rabat, we experienced many of the traditional aspects of Morocco, including henna and the baths.

Outside our host family’s home!

Our host family dressed us up in their traditional wedding clothes… quite uncomfortable.

We got henna done after going to the baths!

After spending a few days in Rabat, we then headed up to the mountains and rural villages of Morocco to cook lunch with a family there and have a discussion about rural life in Morocco. This was an incredible experience; the family lived off of their land and their livestock, and each family member was expected to work hard in the fields or with the animals to help the family. Through a translator, we were able to communicate with the family (which consisted of a grandmother, grandfather, husband, wife, children, cousins and an aunt) and ask them questions about their access to clean water and medical care as well as their experiences in the village. This was the most rewarding part of my experience in Morocco, as it gave me a very rare window into what life outside the cities is like for these people.

Walking into the family’s home in the mountains.

Village in the mountains.

For the end of our trip, we headed to a town in the Rif mountains called Chefchaouen, which is known for its blue houses, blue streets, and blue everything in between. This place was incredible; it didn’t feel real. I’d suggest definitely visiting this town if you have a chance, and hiking up to the church at the top of the hill to get a view of the valley!

Incredible staircase in Chefchaoen!

So. Much. Blue.

All in all, it really was an amazing trip. Can’t wait to explore more!


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Hallie Bates

<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);">My name is Hallie Bates, and I&#39;m currently a junior at Bowdoin College in beautiful Brunswick, Maine. I&#39;m an Anthropology major, Spanish minor, and am also pursuing a pre-health track in order to one day attend medical school. I love to run, and can&#39;t wait to explore the trails in Granada and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. I&#39;m excited to get to know a new city from the inside out, and want to visit as many quirky coffee shops as possible, immersing myself in Spanish language, culture and cuisine.</span></p>

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