The first trip I made outside of Spain this past semester was to Morocco. It was easily one of my favorite weekends during the first half of my year abroad. It was the most unique and exciting trip because of how we traveled to the country and the things that we did there. I remember waking up early on the first day of our trip to take a three hour train ride from Cordoba to Algeciras, the southernmost part of mainland Spain. Once my friends and I arrived in Algeciras, we went on a large ferry that took us across the Strait of Gibraltar into Ceuta, a Spanish city located on the northern tip of Africa. I never knew that a part of Spanish land stretched into a different continent. This was something that amazed me. Although it was technically part of Spain, the culture of Ceuta was just so different. It was incredible to witness. Not to mention, being able to physically see Africa and Europe from a boat was a one of a kind experience.
The transition from Ceuta into Morocco was surprisingly easy. My friends and I simply walked through a security gate, showed our passports to the officer, and then crossed the border into Morocco. That was all it took! The culture change was even bigger on this side of the border. I knew that we were no longer in Spain and the feeling was so exciting.
We spent the night in Tetouan with a Moroccan friend and her family. I remember hearing the Islamic call to prayer around 8 p.m. when the sun went down and the night became chillier. Hearing the call was so beautiful and peaceful and it was one of my favorite things about Morocco. The next day was spent in Tangier, a bigger and more touristic beach city. It was nice to be so close to the ocean. The breeze and open air were so refreshing. The four of us girls took a taxi tour around the city and we passed by major sites such as the royal family’s residences and Tangier’s ports. We made a stop for camel rides, which was a bit scary, but also super fun. One of the goals of the weekend was to celebrate the International Day of the Girl, a campaign that my friends were actively a part of. We worked on a video project that honored this special day and we included our thoughts about the importance of celebrating young girls around the globe. It was a very rewarding experience.
The following day was full of relaxation and celebrations. We spent the day preparing for a traditional Moroccan wedding later in the evening. We decorated our hands with henna, a temporary dye used to make designs on the body, such as flowers or patterns. Then we tried on different traditional dresses, which were so beautiful and full of vibrant colors. The wedding itself was amazing. It took place in a large, decorated hall full of women in their own colorful outfits. There was music and several rounds of food. The celebration was very different than anything I had ever seen, nonetheless, it was such a fantastic experience and I am grateful to have been a part of it.
Morocco was an awesome country with so much culture and beauty and it is definitely a place I would love to visit again in the future!