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Morocco!

This past weekend, I went on the excursion that I had been looking forward to the most: Morocco. As a student in the Arabic Cultural Studies program, I was so excited to visit a Muslim country, and finally experience firsthand the culture that I had talked about in classes for three months. Unfortunately, the weather forecast didn’t coincide with sunny, warm Morocco that I had thought of. During my three days in Morocco, I felt like I experienced more rainy and chilly weather than I had in Granada. Despite the (literal) damper on the trip, I had a great weekend in Morocco.
 Mountains in Morocco
 
 My first meal in Morocco

After arriving  in Tangier, Morocco, via ferry, our CEA Granada staff led us to the Darna Association of Women for lunch. I learned through our local tour guide that Darna means “family” in Arabic, and the association provides support and classes for women in need. We had a fantastic and typical Moroccan lunch, which featured cous-cous and chicken. It was delicious! After dessert, we made our way to a different area of the Association Center, where we met with local Moroccan students. These students were around 17 or 18 years old, and studied English. About two or three CEA students were paired with a Moroccan student, and the Moroccans practiced their English with us.I was so surprised by their knowledge of the English language, as it seemed almost perfect. In my particular group, we talked about what life is like in Morocco for teenagers, as well as our favorite American movies, and sports teams. I wish that we could have stayed longer at the Darna Association, but it was time for an experience of a lifetime: riding camels. Despite the weather, we went to the beach and had the chance to all have camel rides. I have to be completely honest: I was more scared than I thought I would be on the camel. I ended up actually crying (and laughing) while I experienced fear and excitement at the same time.
 I rode a camel (in the rain)!
 
 Chefchaouen

The following day, we toured Tetouan and Chefchaouen. We even had the opportunity to see the Princess of Morocco pass by in her car! Chefchaouen was my favorite city on the trip. The traditional buildings of the city are all painted blue and white, which gives it the nickname “the blue city.” In Chefchaouen, we also were given a local guide, a teenager from Chefchaouen studying English. We even got to experience eating a traditional meal at these students’ homes. My local guide was named Amina, a 17-year-old student, who actually has an affinity with anime and KPop music. Eating lunch at her home was an experience I won’t forget. Her mother did not speak a word of English, but her welcoming and gracious attitude was felt, despite the language barrier. She served my group Morrocan meal of noodles that had meat, vegetables and beans mixed in. After eating lunch, Amina brought us to the city center, where we had free time. I met my friend, Ashley, and we shopped together. Shopping was a truly Moroccan experience, as bartering is commonplace in the Chefchaouen stands and shops. I’m grateful to Ashley, because I definitely would not have gotten my bargains, without her steadfast nature. The last night in Morocco, we ate dinner at a traditional restaurant in the medina, and listened to a Andalusi band. We even had the chance to dance and sing along with them, after eating Morrocan dishes. 
 
My voyage to Morocco was memorable, and that's only an understatement. I am grateful for the opportunities I had in Morocco, especially the exchange with local students and being invited into their homes for authentic meals. The experiences, from my terrifying camel ride to eating lunch in a Moroccan home, will be ones I will never forget. 
 The Blue City
 
 Dinner and Concert
 
 My final meal in Morocco

Mia Polizzotto is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in Granada, Spain. She is currently a junior at York College of Pennsylvania. 

Read more about our CEA MOJO Bloggers & Photographers.
 
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