February 28, 2015

Visit Morocco! (Under Certain Conditions)

I've been in Morocco 48 hours.

It's the most unique place I have ever been.

It may be the most unique because it is the most unlike any other place I've been.

The sun is setting, and I hear the Islamic prayer call echoing from across Casablanca through my open window.

I feel more comfortable when wearing my sweatshirt hood or my scarf around my head. It makes me a little less obviously blonde, and my sunglasses hide my blue eyes. It's not that I'm afraid; it's that I don't want to stand out from the crowd even more than I already do.

Most of the Moroccans think I'm French. Their own accents and vocabulary have as many eccentricities as mine. So "I will never be French" - except in Morocco.

There are very rich people and very poor people; the exquisite mosques contrast deeply with the crumbling shacks. Everything is so cheap here that the expats and tourists can live and eat like kings.

The roads and markets are pushy, full of colors and scents (both pleasant and not so pleasant), and noisy in their needs.

My experience so far in Morocco has been heavily influenced by 3 crucial factors.

1) Living in France has exposed me to French. I can speak with and understand the taxi drivers, shopkeepers, and other locals. I'm actually enjoying arguing with cabbies.

2) Living in France has introduced me to Arab and African athletes, students, coworkers, and friends. My moments with Moroccans have been overwhelmingly positive, and impacted which African country I would go to first all along.

3) Most important factor: I may be flying solo, but I am in Casablanca because my friend from college, John, lives here. He has tons of Moroccan and expat friends, and has brought me to some awesome in-the-know places that I'll talk about later.

I could not have done this trip 5 years ago. I don't even think I could have done it 2 years ago. I definitely couldn't have done it without the help of a friend-turned-local.

If you can accept the dirty chaos of a developing country, only then are you able to see past the bad differences to enjoy the good differences.

At this point in my life, I can finally accept Morocco as a tourist, but I don't think I could handle it as a place to live.

Should you come to Morocco? Yes, but...

Yes, but with the right person/people.

Yes, but with a wide open mind.

Yes, but do your homework in advance and know what to expect.

Yes, but be prepared to play by their rules.

Yes, but don't come until you are ready.

For the complete "My Morocco" series...
Part 1: Les Petits Taxis
Part 2: Breaking Beats 
Part 3: Places & Plates