The Beginning

Trip Start Feb 04, 2006
Trip End Jun 06, 2006

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Thursday, May 4, 2006

I arrived at the bus station an hour early, ate gummies and waited for my bus to Morocco. Considering that the first time I boarded a bus using a ticket that I purchased by myself the seat belonged to someone else, I didn't want to take any chances. (It's not that the bus system isn't reliable here, it's that I'm not. The bus ticket I had purchased gave me a seat on the 1:30 bus not the 13:30 bus. ) I wasn't just nervous about the bus. There was something about this trip that was making me very nervous. Yes, I was taking my first bus trip alone, going to an African, Muslim country with a group of people I didn't know...but since when am I afraid to get to know new people or travel to remote places? I couldn't stop shaking as I ate dinner frantically before leaving for the bus station. I figured that the trip would be amazing because people get nervous before they do great things. Think about Marie's nerves before she gave birth to Jesus. I knew I wasn't giving birth to the Savior of the world, but maybe something wonderful would happen in Morocco that would change my life. I don't know if my life was truly changed, but I know my mind was. I don't know when I have ever learned so much in so few days. When everything is different, there is a lot to absorb, and I soaked up as much as I could.
I borrowed a backpack from a good friend of mine here named Laura. I didn't mean to fill the whole thing, but I realized at the bus station I might have packed a little too much. I went to the bathroom, closed the door behind me, bent over to put down my water bottle next to the toilet, and almost gave myself a swirly, just about falling head first into the toilet bowl. If someone had wanted to steal me in Morocco all they would have to have done is push my forehead and drag me away squirming on my back like a beetle. Honestly, it was the first time that I "backpacked" anywhere so I guess I did a good job overall- in the end everything fit. I used to have so much medical baggage I could never fit it onto my back.
I took the night bus to Algeciras and met the rest of the group at a hostel nearby the port. We boarded the ferry and began to get to know each other. Our first stop in Tangier was to the market to buy drinking water for the first day of the trip. We went walking through the market with the director of the trip, Allen. The spices and produce was spectacular. Then we got to the meat section.... of course, I felt so prideful that the cut meats, hanging chickens, or even the pig's feet didn't faze me. I have seen it all I thought, well, right about then I met eye to eye with a sheep's head.... skinned. I just about threw up right then and there. I made it out into the fresh air in time to catch my stomach. After our lovely trip to the market we visited a woman's center. We saw them weaving, learning Arabic, and sowing. We enjoyed Moroccan tea ( light mint flavored) and cookies while we had our first conversation with two Moroccan students about the Arab culture. This was the beginning of a very sudden and disturbing discovery ....that I knew almost nothing about the Arab world.
After our discussion we jumped back into our van and headed to a smaller town named Asilah. On the way we stopped to ride camels that were on the side of the road next to a small river. They are really odd animals. Getting on and off can be a challenge for small people like me. I had some problems getting over the hump. Once that adventure was over we continued on. We ate lunch Moroccan style (sharing plates of food, eating with our right hands). The food was great! After lunch we took a small tour through the seaside town, enjoying the beach view, visiting the local bakery (where dough is brought to be baked in a big fire stone oven), and sampled fired baked bread.... So delicious! Next we were to learn about life in an urban area of Morocco, the capital Rabat.
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