Edith Wharton once said, “to visit Morocco is still like turning the pages of some illuminated Persian manuscript all embroidered with bright shapes and subtle lines.”
Well, apparently back in 1927, Edith didn’t realize that the Persian empire’s great expanse West was halted somewhere in modern-day Egypt, over 2300 miles from Morocco. But you get the idea. Edith was in her fifties when she visited Morocco at the end of the First World War, and entered a new world completely unknown to her. At the time, Morocco was primitive; or at least it was described that way in most of the Western world. Edith found herself enveloped in a society completely unrecognizable in a world where the most advanced form of communication was radio, and that was only as advanced as it was thanks to the War. Her idea of Morocco before she arrived would have been limited and undeveloped, if existent at all.
Things have changed a bit since then. Thanks to Globalization and a fun little invention called the Internet, I managed to find UBELONG, and somehow convince my Mom to join me on an adventure in Northern Africa! Sure, Morocco has developed quite a bit since Edith visited, but living with a host family in a third world country is a little bit different than what I’m sure my Mom had in mind when we talked about taking a trip. Nonetheless, here we are. The day before our departure. To the Kingdom of Morocco.
Rabat, Morocco’s capital and the city where we’ll be spending the majority of our two weeks, is described as historical, clean, authentic, and sweet. “Sweet”, from what I hear, refers to the food, as well as the sweet smelling flowers that grow wildly throughout the older parts of the city: two things I can definitely get on board with.
But we’re not just packing our bags and crossing the globe to smell the roses and eat the sweets. While my Mom and I are living with a host family in the Medina of Rabat, we will be teaching English through an organization called Thaqafat. Morocco’s literacy and education rates are impressive compared to many of its neighboring countries, but much of that has to do with Morocco’s income gap and lack of middle class; the rich are pretty rich, and the poor are pretty poor. Even when underprivileged kids do make it to school, English isn’t the priority. So that’s where we come in!
I have no idea when/if I’ll get the opportunity to write here. If anything, Morocco is unpredictable, and as exciting as that is, it means I’ll just write when I have the chance. Despite Morocco’s development, Internet is not found in most homes, and although Rabat is cluttered with Cyber Cafes, I’m anticipating more of my money going towards those famous Moroccan sweets I’ve been hearing so much about. But I’ll post when I can, and I’m sure two weeks from now you’ll be begging me to slow down with the pictures and incoherent excited words spilling onto the page!
With all the reading I’ve done about Morocco, I don’t feel all that much more prepared than Edith did. You can read the articles, watch the travel shows, and memorize every inch of that Lonely Planet book I picked up for the trip, but a lot of it just has to be experienced. I can’t stop dreaming of wandering the Kasbah, bargaining in the Medina, snacking on Halwa cookies, and everything that the Kingdom of Morocco has in store!
Here’s where I’ll do my best to describe my time exploring “the bright shapes and subtle lines,” and turning the pages of Morocco.