Friday, May 16, 2014

Flashback Friday: First travel adventure

I have so many travels that I haven’t recapped on here because they happened so long ago. However, I want to write about them so I have decided to start a little flashback Friday series to show some of the adventures I have really loved in the past 5 years. Since this is my first post I thought it would be a good one to talk about my first real travel adventure that sparked my interest in culture. That would be the program I went on in 2010 to Morocco. It was through a highschool travel group called EIL (experiment in international living) and it was absolutely incredible!

We started off our program in Rabat where we had orientation. We spent a lot of time getting lots in the small streets of the medina.

For our orientation lessons we took some language classes but also did other interesting things. We learned about Moroccan clothes, and practiced tablet writing (in Arabic) and we made delicious Moroccan bread. We even had lessons about how to eat with our hands. Eating couscous with your hands is a messy affair.

We also visited the outside of a few beautiful mosques, as the insides are forbidden to non-Muslims.

We visiting this awesome set of ancient ruins which had only roman ruins, and then built on top things that the Arabs added after they invaded many years later.

And we spent a bit of time just enjoying the sunny beaches which were actually pretty nice in Rabat

Our next stop on the trip was fez. It was very hot when we arrived there and we only spent a few days. However we were able to do a lot. On our one full day we went on a massive tour of the medina which is HUGE there!

We saw an old mosque, a tannery, textile factory, and ceramic making. It is known as the artisan capital and for good reason because of all that it had to offer.

Merzouga and the Desert-
Next we went down to the desert region for of coure the traditional camel caravan. The one thing I really remember was arriving so hot and thirsty and they served us hot tea, which sounded of course absolutely terrible but it actually ended up being pretty yummy just because our bodies were hotter than the tea so it cooled us down. Weird…,
Anyway we rode the camels out into the desert, climbed a sand dune, and then slept out under the stars. It as the perfect getaway. 

We then stopped to spend one day in Marrakech which I actually ended up really disliking. It was crowded hot and touristy. We were done after one day for sure. But we did visit the square and see what we could find.

The BEST part of the trip was the 2 week homestay in a rural village in the mid-atlas mountains. We were staying with the Berber people. I got palced with the most incredible family on earth! When I say village, that is a loose use of the term because the houses were not really in sight of one another. Instead you have to walk for ahiwle down a little dirt road to reach another house.

In my family I had Immama (mom). Yousef (13), Hammedi (11), and Ikram (3). They were all so fabulous and sweet.

We had 2 rooms in the house, no running water and limited electricity. One of the rooms could only be used for cooking. The other room however, was were we sat, ate, and slept. There were no beds but instead e would roll out blanket on the floor whenever need be.

Daily life in the village included mornings at school, doing weaving, or other cultural activities. Afternoons home to nap and have lunch. Late afternoons at school to teach English, learn their language, and do another cultural acitivity, weather it be dance lessons or cooking demonstrations.

I loved every minute with my family. And my little kiddos who were SO much fun.  It was impossibly hard to leave such a place and I still think about it often.

After our homestay we spent 3 days in the relaxing beach town. It had a very laid back vibe. We mostly rested at the beach, walked around town, did some souvenir shopping, and enjoyed real beds and access to actual showers.

I consider Morocco my real first turning point in my solo travel career. It sparked that interest in me to just GO and I have never looked back since. Overall it was one of my alltime favorite travel experiences

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