An Ode to Morocco – Kayla Smith

On my way home from the airport, I found myself staring out the car window, marveling at the rolling fields filled with tobacco; the dense forests of oak and pine with all shades of striking green; farm ponds with a thin film of algae reflecting the sun – everything Morocco doesn’t have.  Yet I longed for the sparse, waterless expanse of sand and stone I had been surrounded by for the past six weeks.  I couldn’t understand why for the life of me I wished for the baking heat that I cursed every day in Morocco.  Upon further reflection, I realized I missed nearly everything about Morocco and that I had come to love my time spent in such a beautiful place.

Constantly, I compared the way things are in the U.S. to the way things are in Morocco, and oftentimes, concerning simple matters of daily life, I found the U.S. to come up short.  Grocery stores filled with pre-made and packaged food and ‘fresh’ produce wrapped in some form of plastic can’t compare to Morocco’s open markets packed with boxes of truly fresh fruits and vegetables, racks of hanging meats likely from the slaughter that same morning, and countless varieties of nuts and dates – all locally grown.  Running down to the corner café for a nus-nus isn’t an option here.  I even miss nearly getting mowed over every day by a taxi driver when trying to cross the street.

Fish market in Tangier

Fresh produce in the souk

But more than just material goods, I came to appreciate the tempo of life in Morocco.  At first, the prospect of leisurely going about my day, not minding if I get held up for an extra hour or two, terrified me.  The concept of “inshallah” as a temporal marker baffled me.  By the end of my six weeks in Morocco, I quite enjoyed the rush-free attitude many Moroccans embrace.  It gave me a sense of peace I don’t often experience in the hustle-and-bustle of American life.

Beyond mere lifestyle adjustments, I feel as though I learned valuable lessons in Morocco which I have yet to fully comprehend their extent.  I find myself more grateful for “small” things I have which I paid no mind to before. The fact that I have air-conditioning in my house, or that I have a car, or that I have access to amazing healthcare are all aspects of my life of varying importance, yet I am grateful for each in a way I was not before.  The friends I made and the families I lived with gave me the priceless knowledge that I hope to carry with me to shape the way I view my life and my privileges.  I can’t express enough gratitude for the people who taught me a great deal and who made me feel at home in an unfamiliar country halfway across the world.  Inshallah, one day I’ll get the chance to return.

My host family in Rabat and me

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