One of the biggest goals that my sister and I had when coming to España was to visit Morocco since it’s so close in distance. I’ve dreamed of camel rides, eating savory food and visiting the blue city…Instagram heaven!
Our trip started as a bus ride from the center of Madrid to the South of Spain (Gibraltar) taking a ferry to Tangier, Morocco with a group of college students studying abroad. We bought our tickets through City Life Madrid, a company that helps people, much younger people, get acclimated to their new lives in Madrid. Although we weren’t prepared to be the oldest ones in the group we were both flattered when asked what year we were in. “Year? The year of bills and responsibility” we replied.
For most of the trip, although it was tempting for us to play the mother hens of the group, we enjoyed pretending we were young-ins in college. Anyway, the bus ride was long and smooth, with the only thing being uncomfortable was the little to no legroom one had at their seat. Luckily, my sister and I sat together, so we were able to stretch out our legs out across one another. Can you imagine me riding with a stranger, stating," If you don't mind...my legs are killin' me," as I attempt to lay my legs over them.
There were two stops during the trip, and once we got to the tip of Spain, we caught a ferry to Morocco that ended up being an hour ride. What was really cool about being at the tip of Spain was the fact that you could see Morocco from Spain. I felt like I was an old pioneer on a ship stumbling across the “'New World.' Oye Mate! Land Ahead!" I will admit, the boat ride there was nauseating, and if you could just picture me like this, you’d sympathize with me.
Once we arrived, it was like we arrived home. I'm well aware that the majority of slaves came from West Africa and there are significant differences between each country within Africa, but being an African American woman, I always desired to go to any part of Africa. To be honest, although the United States is my home and my ancestors built it, a piece of me always longed to know or go to the place my ancestors once called home. Stereotypically speaking, I believe I heard drums, African percussions and various wild animals roaring or howling like the scene in the Lion King when Simba was born, as they welcomed me home.
However, I was soon brought back down to reality when I kept hearing Spanish being spoken. The Spanish culture is very present in Morocco since the Moors and Spaniard fought for many years trying to claim parts of each other’s land. Although I’ve heard about this part of history, everything came together when actually entering the country and seeing it for yourself. I will admit that I am ignorant in some parts of the history between Spain and Morocco, but that’s what traveling is all about, exchanging your ignorance for knowledge, which was prevalent throughout the whole trip.
When getting off the ferry, we caught a bus that led us to our hotel and then off to our first destination which was exploring, Tangier, camel riding, and dinner. Although it was raining, the city burst with a vibrant aura while the people bargained, kids coming from school and different types of commerce being made from scratch. Camel riding was next, and my sister and I were so excited. I can’t say the same for the camels who were shivering in the cold rain, but I was appreciative that they didn’t spit at me, maybe run when I didn’t want them to, but at least no spitting.
The whole experience was surreal, and I could only imagine me telling my future kids, “ Oh yea, ya mother was riding camels, smoking shisha and enjoyin’ life before ya’ll came.” After this activity, we headed to dinner to top off the night. I wasn’t too impressed with the food because it wasn’t as flavorful as I thought it was going to be (chicken, couscous, and vegetables), but the music that was played for us as we enjoyed an Arabian dinner was entertaining.
The next and last day, I was super excited and was praying that the clouds would soon part and make way for the sun as I wanted to see the vivacious blue hues in Chefchaouen a.k.a The Blue City. Thank the Lord that this happened. Different shades of blue filled the city and made way for incredible pictures. At one point I passed this elderly lady that wore a costume- like dress sitting in front of her house and aesthetically it was the type of picture a photographer dreams of; locals in their natural environment in front of a(n) aesthetically super dope backdrop…in this case, her house. Although I couldn’t stop to take the picture because I was with a group, I was determined to find her again when we were given a two-hour break to explore and eat on our own.
So, two hours later the hunt was on. Walking up and down different streets was exhausting leaving my imagination to compare this to walking through the Sierra Desert looking for a waterhole. “Where is this woman? I swear she’s hiding from me,” I said to myself. With a half hour left I decided to head back to the group’s meeting point only to see another woman wearing a similar outfit sitting in front of her home. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it was still pleasing to the eye. “Can I take a picture of you?” I asked while acting out the question. The woman nearly got off her porch to swat me away, but as soon as I took money out to show her that I would pay to take a picture, the biggest grin came upon her face followed with her hand sticking out. As soon as I took my camera out again, this woman happily obliged to pose. With that experience, I learned two things: Seize the moment and money talks!