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Magnificent Marrakech – A Mini Student Directed Travel!

March 13, 2019 | Salaam Overseas Educators| Spain & Morocco - SALAAM

Written By Eliana

Hello friends and family,

We are just finishing up our short but jam packed pit stop in Marrakech, which was filled with lots of good food, laughs and, of course, dancing. Our fearless captain for the week, Tori made sure that our days were chock-full of activities and had something for everyone.

Day one started with a stroll off the beaten path to one of Morocco’s oldest and best synagogues. Once there, our resident experts (Geoff and me) made sure to answer any questions to the best of our abilities and, of course, in a New York accent.

Up next we headed to a museum of historical photography tucked deep inside of the Medina. The winding alleyways of one of Morocco’s largest markets led to a lot of directional confusion. Not to fear, Kate was there! She gave us an impromptu map reading class, which we all greatly appreciated and helped Brandis get us to our destination. For dinner some of us decided to continue on our quest to find the best street tagine. Luckily for us Clemente (who, we already established, is confused to be a native Moroccan by locals) was able to weave through the shouting stall owners and find us the best spot to eat.

Day two started bright and early with many of us venturing deep in to the Medina. Those lucky enough to go with Vanesia were sure to get the best deals due to her superb Darija bargaining abilities. None of us were able to leave Marrakech without splurging on something. Vanesia got a new wardrobe, Tori and Kayla got pants, Gina got earnings, I got shoes, Geoff got a sacred Man U jersey, Brandis got a scarf, and, of course, Clemente got Milka chocolate bars. In the afternoon we headed to Jardin Majorelle where we strolled through a gorgeous sprawling garden. Don’t worry, Kayla made sure not to step in any of these fountains and Gina offered to take many photos for elderly couples struggling to take two person selfies.

We ended the day with a trip to Sheldon’s favorite restaurant, Cafe Clock, where we were lucky enough to listen to one of Marrakech’s master Darija storytellers. While our time in Marrakech was short we were all able to not just have a great experience but deepen our understanding of Morocco as a whole and why we decided to take the leap and travel here.

“Why Morocco?” Before leaving for this trip, all of us were asked this over and over. While all of our answers varied one commonality was that we wanted to be able to understand the culture to its full. For the first month of the trip, other travelers we interacted with had similar travel goals to us. However, as soon as we went to Marrakesh things drastically changed. From the first moments we stepped out of our taxis we could all feel that our short stay in Marrakech was going to be very different than anything we had previously done.

As we walked to our hosted we all began to notice the seemingly curated Morocco atmosphere that we were entering. Stalls full of “what happens in Morocco stays in Morocco” t-shirts filled streets already packed with tourists. As we waded through the crowds of crop-tops and linen pants, we reflected on what we had truly come to Morocco for. The next morning, as we ate breakfast and sipped our mint tea, we discussed just that. That we weren’t here to brag or post to our instagrams. We were here to learn and understand. Almost like kismet, one of us pointed to an interaction that was happening in the street just a few feet from us. Two deaf tourists had become lost in the medina and out of the blue a random Moroccan man had stopped and immediately offered help. That was the Morocco that we had learned to love over the past month. Not one full of things to point a camera at but one full of a culture of random acts of kindness and centered around community. It was at that moment that we realized the difference between a tourist and a traveler and that we, in fact, were becoming the later. And maybe, just maybe, we were learning to be a bit more like Moroccans.

Until our next blog, Eliana

Kayla, Vanesia, and Gina taking a selfie at Jardin Majorelle.

Kayla, Vanesia, and Gina taking a selfie at Jardin Majorelle.

Kayla, Geoff, Vanesia, and Tori posing at Jardin Majorelle.

Kayla, Geoff, Vanesia, and Tori posing at Jardin Majorelle.

The main square of the Marrakech medina, Jemaa el-Fna, at night.

The main square of the Marrakech medina, Jemaa el-Fna, at night.