Out of all my trips outside of Spain, the most unique and culturally immersive was definitely my trip to Morocco. I stayed in Marrakech in an Airbnb with several other kids from IES Abroad. We had been planning this trip for months, and it was easily what I was anticipating most all semester. On the first night I was there, I had the unfortunate experience of having bed bugs in my bed, which was a big first for me. When I found the itchy series of red bumps in the morning, I was ready to get angry and let it ruin the rest of my trip. The continuous, unyielding itchiness was driving me crazy, and on top of that the owner of the Airbnb was completely ignoring my calls, and the one worker who was that the house insisted that I had been bit somewhere else and no in the bed. I was in a fairly bad mood after that, and had lost all the excitement I had for the rest of the day.
Still annoyed about the whole situation, I went up to the roof of the house to cool off. While I was on the roof, I had a clear view into an ally way below. There, I saw a small kid, maybe five or six years old, wearing nothing but a t-shirt. He went into the corner of the alley, and went to the bathroom out there in the open. It was right there that I realized how dumb and unappreciative I was being. I was pouting over some bug bites while being on a vacation to a continent I had never stepped foot on before that my parents were paying for, while this kid did not even have an available bathroom he could use.
I had seen plenty of poverty on my trips to India as a kid. It was everywhere; men, women and children living in small huts or on the streets, begging and doing literally anything they could to earn some money. None of it had fully stuck with me when I was a kid the way this incident did. Of course it had always made me sad, but I never had the foresight to think beyond my sadness. In that moment I realized how incredibly lucky I was that I could travel and see new places, that I could afford to stay in an Airbnb for the night, that I had the basic convenience of going to a bathroom indoors in a private place where I could wash my hands after. My entitlement and resentment towards the owner quickly faded away, and I decided that I was going to be more grateful not only for that trip but in general. I decided that I wasn’t going to let something as arbitrary as a bug bite ruin my mood and spoil such an amazing experience.
Another important lesson I got from that moment is how valuable it is to be able to let go, especially when you’re traveling. Things go wrong all the time. You might lose things, or have them stolen or misplaced. You might get some bad service at a restaurant, or be treated poorly somewhere. After the bed bugs I could have easily started to argue with the worker, I could have sent an angry, strongly worded email, I could have spent my time attacking the Airbnb’s online reviews and basked in my anger. Instead, I decided to forget about it, to let go and continue to enjoy my trip with all my friends.