This past March I had the pleasure of exploring the north African gem, Morocco. The first things that come to mind when one thinks of Morocco are usually camels, deserts, and mazes of colorful shops. Before my journey I had little time to research my destination, and I was in easy agreement with the plans of my fellow explorers with one simple demand - I was determined to ride a camel.
Being a woman while traveling is a fluid experience that is entirely dependent on not only your destination of choice but also your travel companions. On this Moroccan holiday, all of my three travel companions were women. Unsurprisingly, this led to some perspective broadening experiences. Here are my takeaways:
Before taking off for this trip, I was warned that the men in Morocco are a bit over enthusiastic upon introduction of foreign women into their landscape. With this in mind, I was expecting the onslaught of jazzy phrases sent in my direction. However, I think it would be beneficial for some Moroccan men to further their education on pop culture because while I do like to think my hips don’t lie, I am most certainly not Shakira. Out of respect for the culture and to not attract too much attention to ourselves we typically dressed more conservatively.
*Happily I can say that the local cheerleaders’ barks are worse than their bite - as long as you politely ignore you should be just fine!
Ladies and Gents - do not lose your undergarments when traveling to Morocco! Speaking from experience, I assure you-you will have a most difficult time finding new ones if you do. There is a reason we call them delicates, and in Morocco, this is for the purpose of conversation. As a more traditional culture, you likely will not see a Victoria’s Secret proud and pink on a corner. Unless you are fluent in one of the chosen tongues, you will have an entirely entertaining and incriminating game of charades to find what you are looking for.
Camel riding is not as glamorous or as comfortable as it looks. On this particular excursion, we were accompanied by a friend who had been camel riding twice prior and was adept in the searing pain we were demanding to endure. Thankfully she convinced us that 30 minutes on these majestic creatures was more than enough. From this activity I learned:
You do not ride a camel like you would ride a horse. Do yourself a favor and sit back in the saddle.
Sand dunes can be properly angled to look like you are in an endless desert (even if you are still on the beach).
Anyone that rides a camel twice is crazy, but THREE TIMES to help achieve the insane dreams of their friends? Rockstar status.
All in all, my eyes were truly opened when I traveled to Morocco. Moroccans are impossibly kind people who care for their own and will go out of their way to help their neighbors. We were constantly encouraged to give leftover food to the homeless, and all members of the community were treated with respect. At a time when the world could use a lesson in kindness, this was refreshing to see. As with every place you visit, be ready to embrace the beautiful differences in other cultures - and remember the locals always know the best spots to eat so make some new friends!