A Trip Worth Making – 1 April

In Morocco, Photo, Travel 2011 on April 1, 2011 at 12:18 am

For those of you who have known me since college, you probably already know that I spent my second semester junior year studying abroad in Niamey, Niger. (click here for a blog from long ago).

While there, I had the opportunity to travel to Burkina Faso, across the Nigerienne Sahel, and to the edge of the Sahara, but that was it; and it simply whet my appetite for the rest of the continent.

A friend of mine who grew up in Malawi told before I left for Niger that once I put my feet in the sands of Africa, I’d never get the dust off my feet . . . figuratively speaking of course, and that seems to be true. As I stepped off the ferry from Spain into Tangier, rather than the nerves I expected to feel, I simply took a deep breath and embraced the calm sense of anticipation that washed over me. Silly as it may seem, something about this world of Arabic, French and tribal languages already felt a bit like home.

Walking off the ferry I glanced over at a Moroccan woman who I had been swapping eye contact with most of the way there. We exchanged a few words, figuring out quickly that my French was very rusty and her English very limited. Despite the obvious roadblocks on our conversation, we stumbled our way through, exchanging details about our lives while waiting for the bus to the city centre of Tangier.

Fatin has a husband and a little boy. She had been in Spain on holiday and was more than happy to show me pictures in her phone of her short trip and her family at home in Casablanca. I, in turn, showed her pictures on my iPad and accidentally claimed two men as my husband…. I really do need to learn how to differentiate between male friend and boyfriend in French. Oh well – we figured it out and had a bit of a giggle at my expense.

We discussed my plans for my next ten days in Morocco, and I’m happy to say they met with Fatin’s approval, and with a few final instructions in key Arabic phrases, she wished me well and saw me on to my bus to the city.

Such a welcoming conversation in a new country.

So glad I am here.

On the bus, I had the pleasure of meeting a young Moroccan man, nineteen year old Anouor from Fes. Again, I threw my defenses up, cautious of all the warnings that had been given to me by other travelers. Slowly, though as we talked, I learned a bit more about his studies, and he showed me pictures of his family.

When we got to Tangier, I decided to trust him and accept the offer of an escort to the train station. It was dark, so I figured a slight charge of a few dirham was worth the risk of not finding my way and cheaper than a taxi. We waited for his cousin to meet us and headed in what I knew was the right direction, walking past the flouro lights of Mojito’s and 555, apparently the places to go after nine o’clock.

He treated me to a bit of chickpeas salted with various spices, and dropped me at the train station, only leaving after making sure I had my ticket and was all set for departure.

So glad I am here. Now onto Marrakech, just a 12 hour overnight. . . Let’s hope it’s just as worth it.

Very happy on the train.


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