An overly enthusiastic group of 25 US based college students arrived in Casablanca, Morocco this past Saturday night, immediately getting onto a bus that would take them to their home for the next week: Rabat. Morocco is a gorgeous country, and we spent the first week of it in their political capital learning about gender and sexuality within the Moroccan context (also, shopping.) I’ve had terrible wifi connection these past two weeks, and tonight marks my last in Africa. I spent the first week of this trip in Rabat, but this past week I was hopping place to place (Fes, Marrakesh, and Casablanca). Each city had so much history and beauty, I can’t possibly pack it all into one post.
Below the read more, I’ll be summarizing my favorite activities during my first Moroccan week in Rabat – with some pictures! (There will be more coming on Flickr and Facebook.)
Day 1: The Cliffs
The first thing that a smaller group of us did before making our way to the CCCL (the center for Cross-Cultural Learning) was walk a short distance from our hotel to the coast. I have a couple short videos of the ginormous waves that were crashing against the cliffs. A little further down the coastline there was a beach, but I didn’t get a chance to visit it.
The building we had classes and ate lunch in was beautiful. The view from the rooftop was even more so. They gave us wonderful food; bread, rice, vegetables, HUGE oranges, and even some spaghetti during our last lunch there. For classes, we discussed sexual harassment in Morocco, the hijab and other veils, and sexual education in Morocco. We also got to learn about how to bargain in the medinas and got to try on some traditional Moroccan clothing.
Guided Walking Tour of Rabat
The first day was jam-packed with a lot of activities, including a wonderful (but long) tour of the city. We walked through the old city- everything inside the wall- and the new city, which is everything that’s outside the wall. Inside the wall is where we had classes, ate with host families, plus shopping and bargaining with street vendors in the medina. Outside the wall is where the buildings are more modern and spread out. That’s where we saw the art museum, the Andalusian Gardens, the Hassan Tower, and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. Also, important note: there are cats everywhere in Rabat, and it’s amazing.
Day 2: Lunch with Moroccan Families!
They made us couscous and Moroccan mint tea. All I can say is that their homes are beautiful, their cooking is beautiful, and laying on the couch, watching TV with your family after finishing a meal is a universal phenomenon. My life was changed when I tasted homemade couscous for the first time. (Also I got the recipe for Moroccan mint tea, so I’m set for life in that regards.)
Day 3: Bargaining
After a short how-to that included a couple Arabic phrases like “Lla, ghazi bazzaf” and “Nqass shwiya” (“No, it’s too expensive” and “Lower the price,” respectively), we were
thrown into the medina to try our hand at bargaining. Luca and I weren’t good at bargaining or finding anything we were really interested in, anyway, so instead we spent our month on fresh sugar cane juice, dried apricots, and baklava. All delicious.
Day 4: Actual Attempt at Bargaining
The last two days in Rabat came with abundant free time, where everyone kind of did their own things. My friends and I spent most of our time in the medina, bargaining for cool stuff!! I bought scarves, a Moroccan teapot, a jacket akin to a Baja hoodie, some presents for people back home, and even more scarves. Other people got handmade wooden puzzle boxes and chess boards. Some others got more rugs than I got scarves, which is saying something. Most of my money went to trying all the tasty treats that locals were selling.
International Women’s Day Art Exhibit!
The modern art museum in Rabat hosted a beautiful exhibit in honor of women’s day. Here are some of my favorite pieces from it… It was a little difficult to understand what some of the pieces symbolized because the only languages explanations were written in were French and Arabic. The museum as a whole is amazing, so many wonderful pieces are there to see, and because it was women’s day, I didn’t have to pay to get in!
We also saw a wonderful protest outside of a government building in honor of international women’s day, where a large group of Moroccan women were protesting for their rights! It was amazing to see them and all of their supporters coming together on such a lovely day.
Day 5: Resting
After such a busy week, everyone sort of crashed the last day in Rabat. A few people went the beach, but a lot of us made one last round in the medina and hung out in the hotel with each other. It was a relaxing day, and gave us a much needed break before we had to pack up and move on to Fes.