The Ocean Between Us – Noah Huffman

I opened the door of the canary yellow cab and slid onto the sunbaked leather seat that was half unhinged from the floorboard. The driver gave me an almost-toothless smile with only a few rotted nubs remaining in his otherwise vacant mouth. The old engine shook the rickety car as we tumbled down the busy street. A breeze blew in through the half-cracked window while we careened our way over craggy hills and deserted valleys on a crumbling road. But suddenly, I found myself back into the midst of civilization with towering apartment complexes and hotel resorts whose grass looked meticulously maintained. Wrought iron gates lined the streets filled with cars and taxicabs and bustling tourists enjoying the late-day sun. The driver screeched to a halt and I fished in my pocket to find the proper payment. The back of my shirt was stuck to the chair with sweat, but I managed to pull myself off and exit the cab. A sign pointed me to my destination and I followed it down a hill. I was met with waves crashing against weathered rocks and an infinite view of the sea, not able to tell where it ended and the horizon began. I took a deep breath in, smelling the salty air. I walked down well-groomed stairs into the mouth of a giant cave. They call it the Cave of Hercules because he supposedly rested there during his trials. Believing the myth or not, I passed by lines of merchants and went deeper into the cave. There I saw the main attraction: a window to the sea in the shape of the African continent. I will admit, I saw the resemblance, and so did the hundreds of tour groups and school children. But looking past that hole out into the sea, for one of the first times on my trip, I thought about what was on the other side of that endless ocean: home.

I have never felt more American then when coming to Morocco. It was a strange twist of fate for me. I had planned to try to assimilate with Moroccans and shed my American heritage for six weeks. However, I quickly realized that no matter what I did, I would never be considered to be a local. So why hide it? Why pretend to be a European or someone else? I have grasped that when coming to another country, you are an ambassador for your people and your culture. I came to understand that I am American, and that it is something of which I should be proud. The world is an increasingly more interconnected forum. However, for some people, their only interactions with foreign cultures and peoples is through the Internet. This creates a biased view in their minds about who these people are. So, when I am given the chance to talk to people, I embrace that I am an American and that I can make a difference in the way that our country is perceived by the world. I have a deeper understanding after being in Morocco for six weeks about what it truly means to be a global citizen. I better appreciate the role that I play, whether I intend to or not. The actions that we take have global impact. What I post online can reach people thousands of miles away— people whom I had not even intended to reach. When I looked out of that sea window into the ocean, I thought about home because I know that I missed it. Morocco has been an eye-opening experience into a culture so removed from my own. People say that America has no culture, but I disagree. There is something that makes America unique, something intangible, but most definitely felt. In coming back to the United States, I feel at ease but a twinge of sadness. I am excited to go back to something familiar, but I want to keep exploring and learning about the world. But, perhaps that is an adventure for another time.

Sunset in Tangier

View from a Tangier rooftop

Cave of Hercules

1 comment to The Ocean Between Us – Noah Huffman

  • Heidi Randall

    The people I admire most are the ones who embrace themselves and don’t try to be anyone else. I love your comment about being able to change people’s perceptions and stereotypes by being honest about who you are! Your descriptions are fabulous. I feel certain that there will be many more travel experiences in your future!

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