The Sea to the Sahara and Everything in Between

Rebekah Grafton
March 20, 2018

In two short trips of the course of the past two weekends, I have experienced some of the incredible geographical and meteorological diversity of Morocco. Last weekend, we had our IES Abroad group trip to the Sahara. Getting there was a 12 hour bus journey from Rabat on the coast to Merzhouga in the south, near the Algerian border. When we left Rabat it was overcast, chilly, and grey. Throughout the day we passed through foggy valleys and green fields, forested hills, the snowcapped Atlas mountains shining under blue skies and white clouds, open scrubland, and winding wadis with tall, rocky sides and rivers of palm trees running through them. Then of course, there were the dunes of our destination, standing out against the wide, blue sky like a painting. My favorite part is spotting the different-colored and different-sized but otherwise same square minarets marking the mosques in every town we passed.

As you can see from the pictures below, it was all beautiful.

I will admit that I had not expected such ecological variation. I had not expected to have to drive 12 hours through so many different landscapes to get to the desert. The only previous experience I have had in North Africa was in Egypt, a country dominated by desert. Though I knew consciously that Morocco would be different, I automatically generalized and made projections based on my limited experience which seeped into my expectations.

In the same way, despite being warned, I had not expected the severe cold in Meknes, nor had I expected the relentless rain we’ve had on the coast in the past weeks. Just this past weekend, I took a short trip to the seaside town of Assilah, a three hour train ride north of Rabat. The town was lovely and sleepy and, this weekend, drenched. An overcast and wet afternoon turned into howling winds and sheets of rain. Consequently we were doing lots of penguin-waddling into the wind and were soaked through.

Again, I knew consciously before I came to Morocco that it would be rainy, but unconsciously that didn’t sink in until the water sank into my socks. I told myself I would buy rain gear when I got here, but in retrospect I recommend packing it from the beginning.

When packing for Morocco in the winter/spring transition, it’s still important to bring the sunscreen and the sunglasses, especially if heading to the Sahara. But even more important are layers, layers, layers, including a thick jacket. And some kind of rain gear is necessary. With the condition my socks and shoes are currently in, I recommend rainboots.   

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Rebekah Grafton

<p>I am a long-time bibliophile, choir nerd, and language lover who isn't really "from" anywhere. The closest thing I have to a hometown is Ambler, Pennsylvania, where I lived throughout middle and high school, but I also lived in England and Egypt as a child, and my parents now live in Connecticut I now go to college in Washington DC!</p>

2018 Spring
Home University:
Georgetown University
Ambler, PA
Francophone Studies
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