Some Reflections

As we continue our journey, we are reflecting on our experiences. Here are a few impressions …

blog4Photo by Lucia

Morocco is just as foreign as I had imagined, but it shows its little oddities differently than I had imagined. Traveling through Morocco feels like traveling through a different planet, not so much because everything is alien but because (maybe due to us being tourists) everything seems almost like a facsimile of itself, a Hollywood set that will fall down with the slightest touch just like in Blazing Saddles. Morocco is chaotic and wilder than I’m used to but the wildness seems somehow curated. Walking through the blue city or the alleyways of Fez I’m struck by a distinct feeling of not belonging – something that as an American I’m not really used to. Its an odd feeling but not a necessarily unpleasant one.- Leif

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Photo by Liam

Thus far, Morocco has been mind-blowing. Traveling in this country is like putting a puzzle together with all its history dating back to before the 13th century. Being able to see the old and the new of one of the most modern cities in North Africa is an experience that can never be undone. The people are beautiful, the city is different, and the air is refreshing. – Ashley

was not shocked but surprised about Morocco. We were excited to embrace the culture, the people, and the food as we excited the airport. Photographing people has been difficult, but hopefully the Berber tribe will be easier to capture. This makes me want to learn more about their culture and how religion has impacted them and shaped their everyday life so that I will be able to clearly capture them in photos.- Leila

Day 4

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Photo by Joyce

Today we left our hotel in Chefchaouan for Fes. We had a a four-hour drive through the winding mountains. When we arrived in Fes, we immediately went to the Medina. Fes is made up of three parts; the new city, the newer city (La Ville Nouvelle), and the old city (the Medina, which dates back to the ninth century). In the Medina, no cars are allowed, there are only donkey drawn carts. There are over 9,500 allies and streets in the Medina, very few of which are marked. Ghali led us through the disorienting streets to a restaurant where we had our first genuine Moroccan meal. Afterwards we split into two groups and explored the city, which has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1978. My guide was Rashid; he grew up in the Medina. He focused on showing us the details of the city. I asked Rashid about the hands on the doors as I had seen them before when I traveled to Portugal. He said that the hands depicted on the doors either through metal designs or as doorknockers, represent the hand of Fatimah, which is an important symbol in Islam. Most of the shops were closed for the day, but tomorrow we will go back to this labyrinth of city and walk through the chaotic markets.

Day 3

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Photo by Anna

Today we headed back to the circus school on our way out of Rabat in order to drop off some donations that we had brought with us from New York. Our next stop was Chefchouen, also known as “The Blue City”. Here we had a tour of the old part of the city, known as the medina, and took some fantastic pictures. (I saw an adorable corgi/dachshund mix puppy as well). Our guide explained to us that the city only adopted its blue color 20 years ago when they noticed it was bringing an influx of tourism. He also explained that people freshly paint their homes three times a year. Women in the town have a lot of responsibility and are in charge of a lot of the upkeep of the town. The guide told me that most homes are only painted up half way in blue, signifying that women had painted it. If the house was painted blue to the of the house,  that meant their husbands had finished the job. We also had our first authentic Moroccan food on this day, which was a chicken tagine accompanied by fresh mint tea and sugar. Our guide, Ghali, told me that it is traditional for Moroccans to serve their mint tea with sugar. He explained that if he went to someone’s home as a guest and they did not serve their tea with sugar he would think that they were mean.

 

– Elizabeth

Day 2 -L’école du Cirque National

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Photo by Aaron

On our second day in Morocco we went to the circus school where we were invited to attend a dress rehearsal of their new show. The actors-acrobats are all alum of the circus school. The skills and talents of the performers were extraordinary! They told a story of love  and harship through wire walking, ropes, balancing, juggling, clowning, and contortion. It was  beautiful and enchanting.

After the rehearsal, we went to the tent where the younger children were training and learning new circus skills. Because it is now the official National Circus School of Morocco, the students are able to attend the school for free. Most of the students are from disadvantaged homes, and would not be able to take classes if they were available for free. We brought Ross donated clothing and soccer balls to leave with the school.

At the end of our visit, many of our Ross students were courageous enough to try to walk on the slack rope. They proved to be determined and talented!

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– Dale Scott

– Photo by Bevis

Day 1

At 11 in the morning, tired yet ready for adventure, we arrived in Morocco and the smells of turmeric, oranges, and saffron embraced us in a new culture. We made it through customs and retrieved our many bags, mesmerized by the new faces surrounding us. We boarded the bus and traveled about an hour into the heart of Casablanca, gazing out the windows at the stunning white buildings, lush green landscapes, and colorfully clothed peoples. We finally disembarked at a restaurant area on the Atlantic coast. The views were mesmerizing and many of us had never before seen waves as big as these. The white sprays of the water launched into the air as they hit the rocky coastline in a melodic symphony of roars and booms, the tiny excess water droplets cloaked us, frizzing the hair of many. Everyone immediately pulled out cameras to capture the wonderful sight before us. We sat down at a beautiful, semi-outdoor restaurant where we continued to witness the massive waves crashing along the coast through enormous windows as we dined on an array of Italian and French cuisine. As we drove to Rabat where we would spend our first night in Morocco, we watched the sun set on our first day, our beautiful surroundings only the beginning of a great adventure.

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Photo by Hannah Dayton

– Amanda Mintz