How The Other Half Lives | My Family Travels
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Although Africa frequently brings to mind the image of lions dancing and singing “Hakuna Matata,” it is actually much more than that. All kidding aside, it is difficult to picture Africa without the numerous animals it is known for, animals that we’ve all grown up seeing in picture books. However, the people of Africa are just as diverse and twice as interesting as any of its wildlife. I got the chance to experience Morocco through an EF (Education First) Tour that took us sightseeing around Spain. In case the ‘education’ didn’t drop a hint, the tour was run through our school, Bishop Grimes, as part of our annual European Tour program. Going to Morocco was an optional one day excursion which we, the ten high school students on the trip decided to do. It was an experience and a half and I would strongly recommend it to anyone with enough guts to give it a go.

Quarter Finalist 2009 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

To get to Morocco, one must first sail across the Strait of Gibraltar on a boat that rocks back and forth like a seesaw. At least, that’s what we did. Once there, we met Abdullah, our tour guide who was convinced he bore a strong resemblance to Michael Douglas. The drive through Customs was the scariest part of the trip only because we had to put our passports in a black plastic bag and stow them in the sketchiest building on earth. Meanwhile, we on the bus observed several (and by several I mean more than a hundred) people scrambling over the mountain terrain on the other side of the security fence. These were people who were apparently dodging customs.

            After that, however, the day only got better and better. Everyone got the chance to ride a real camel, including our teacher. The video of that should get us out of a year’s worth of homework. Next we traveled into the Medina of the city of Tétouan. The Medina is the oldest part of the city and the narrow stone street with low stone arches meant that we were travelling on foot through what was basically a farmer’s market. Every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable were in baskets on the road side manned by old women dressed in traditional clothing with the shawls around their heads.
            Eventually, we ended up in a restaurant that looked like something out of an old Hitchcock film. The walls were elegantly carved and painted stone covered in Arabic symbols. Not only did we get to sample the local fare of cabbage, couscous and some chicken buried under it all with some nice hot tea to wash it down but the live entertainment was amazing too. One man danced with a tray full of flaming cups on his head and, thankfully, he was pretty good at keeping them there. Next we went to a pharmacy where we were shown the many herbal medicines that the Moroccans use in place of pills. It was interesting to say the least.
            When we boarded the boat to go back to Spain, I knew I would miss Morocco. It’s world was so different from what we were used to. And as odd as Morocco may seem to us, that is the way most of the world lives. The trip really opened my eyes to a different culture and way of doing things, none of which are any better than the others. Opening up and learning to connect with people so different from ourselves is what makes us human and nothing opens us up more than an experience like ours in Morocco.     

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