Dear Morocco. Let me start by saying thank you. Thank you for your rich colours, your nourishing foods, your vibrant and serene landscapes, your friendly people, your ability to let me rest and your talent for pushing me out of my comfort zone. During the 10 days I spent in your vicinity, I have grown as a person and rekindled my love for exploring the world and myself in the process. I thank you for an incredibly enriching time and beautiful memories, but mostly I want to thank you for these lessons.
You taught me that I do not control the weather
By opening the floodgates of your vast skies, you shattered my expectations of sitting by a cosy art deco pool at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains to soak in some vitamin D and put my feet up for a while. Although I had been monitoring the weather continuously before my arrival, it was still a disappointment to see the sky filled with dark clouds and to feel the chilly air on my ‘summer’ break. Surrendering to your wishes, I quickly realised that pouting my way through was not going to make the situation better. So, I put on some warm clothes, turned my frown into a smile and started exploring your beautiful lands on hour-long hikes. As life often tends to hold blessings in disguise, I fell in love with your natural beauty so much more than I would have sitting by a pool, that I can truly say I was grateful for the shabby weather.
You taught me that shoddy WiFi is wonderful
Out of the 4 places I stayed at in Morocco, only one had decent WiFi. The other places either had a continuously poor connection or would drop out completely for hours on end. Although this presented its set of challenges, such as looking up the timetables for the bus I needed to catch, it also brought with it a sense of surrender and peace. Disconnecting from the digital world for a few days brought me an opportunity (read: forced me) to live in the moment and become more aware of my surroundings. With every minute counting on a short 10-day trip like this, I am so glad that WiFi was sparse and presence abundant.
You taught me not to judge a whole country by just one city
Never have I been in a country where the different locations I visited contained so much contrast and distinct differences. Marrakesh greeted me as a city stood still in time with its narrow streets, buzzing markets and faithful donkeys, carrying heaving loads on their back. When I arrived in the Atlas Mountains a little later, it not only seemed like I had traveled to a different era but as if I was in a different world altogether. The tranquillity I found in the fresh mountain air translated itself into a pace so slow and peaceful that it was hard to imagine why anyone would ever leave this place. Yet when I arrived in Taghazout a few days later, a small seaside town, I marveled at the polarity between the hippy surfers that populated the place and the deeply religious people that lived beside them. Once more I was surprised when Casablanca turned out to be an aggressive, fast-paced city, showing me that one place truly does not define an entire country.
You taught me to let go of my strict moral convictions
During past travels, I have gone hungry at times in order to stay true to my moral beliefs as a vegan. With words lost in translation and remote areas that did not offer a variety of restaurant or shops to choose from, you taught me that sometimes doing your best is good enough, even if that means eating some bread that contains milk or some tajine that is cooked in butter. Yet your stray animals that roam the cities and beaches across the country, confirmed in me the desire to continue doing my best. Seeing animals suffer in front of my eyes, makes me what to continue doing all I can to not contribute to this suffering in any way.
You taught me traveling is about the people, not the places
Sure, I can see why Marrakesh is loved by many and Casablanca is not a screaming tourist attraction. Certain places (across the world) will always hold a special place in my heart. But you have shown me that the people you meet along the way, will shape the memories you carry home. Comparing lives with fellow travelers, learning customs from locals and even getting to know myself in a new way, that is what traveling is about for me. Broadening my horizons, yes, but mainly filling my heart with more love for the people (and animals!) that inhabit this earth has always been the essence of traveling for me. This became crystal-clear in Morocco, a country filled with so many beautiful and interesting people, whose stories will continue to live on in me for decades to come.
Dear Morocco, you are a country that took me by surprise. You are full of contrast, full of warmth and love and peace, full of corners that are yet to be explored by me. I will take away these lessons for now, alongside the beautiful memories, and hope that someday I can return to continue learning from you.