“Stay on the Track!”

What an incredible day. I can’t believe all the things we saw. The biggest problem I’m running into in Sahara is that describing the way things look and happen isn’t good enough; it’s all about the way it makes me feel. Walking through an occupied, UN city like Dakhla, I can describe what I see, but that is nothing compared to all the things I feel. Luckily, what I felt most today was awe, so I’ll do my best to describe it.

The UN said their most important rule was to stay on they track. So, naturally, we went off-roading.

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What a crazy 24 hours! I’m happy to say I’m safely in Dakhla, a tiny city on the end of the Rio Oro peninsula in Southern Western Sahara. Dakhla is a sleepy little desert town, somehow dry and desolate despite being surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic, but after Laayoune it feels like sun bleached paradise.

Continue reading “UN Visit: MINURSO”

Laayoune – First Impressions

I’m currently sitting on a little bed in a little room in my empty hotel here in Laayoune, the capital of the contested Western Sahara region. Western Sahara (or Moroccan Sahara, depending on who you ask), is the southern territory annexed by Morocco in 1975 in a historical Green March, which freed the region from Spanish colonization (only to essentially become a Moroccan colony). After that there was pretty consistent violence until the UN negotiated a ceasefire. The UN has been peacekeeping in the region ever since. The rest of the world recognizes the area as sovereign, but Morocco still occupies the territory and considers it as a part of the kingdom.

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Couscous Fridays

Fridays are a special day here in Morocco, and today was the best one yet.  Friday is the holy day in Islam, so once a week after Friday morning prayer, families across the country gather together to eat Couscous.  People come home from work and kids get a few hours off work, and the whole country goes on pause in order to sit around a round little table and share a plate of Couscous.  Couscous Fridays is such a special cultural tradition that you can’t order Couscous any other day of the week in Rabat, though more touristy cities offer it to tourists.

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Fes, Ifrane & Azrou

Mom and I wanted to go away for a weekend while she was here, so we’d been brainstorming for almost a month on where we should go.  It wasn’t until I was talking with one of my friends here whose friends had just gone to Ifrane to see wild monkeys that we decided on Fes, Ifrane, and Azrou.  Mom and I want to Fes last year, and I’ve been a few times since, but it’s such a special city, so we both felt good about going back.

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Mom’s Week in Rabat

Mom’s week in Morocco went so quickly! I can’t believe she’s already back in Vancouver, and that I only have one month left in the magical Kingdom of Morocco.

Mom arrived last Monday and I met her at the airport after my Arabic class, with the help of my new taxi driver friend who gave us a great deal. Taxis are really cheap in Morocco, but local taxis or “petit taxis” can’t leave their own city, and since the airport is technically in Sale, not Rabat, I had to take a white taxi or ‘grand taxi’ which costs ten times more to go the same distance.  But since I was going there and back, he offered to wait and drive us both ways for a lower price.

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École de Gouvernance et d’Économie de Rabat

I realized that I haven’t written very much about school yet, and since it’s starting to heat up with midterms and assignments I wanted to take a minute to talk about my courses!

EGE (École de Gouvernance et d’Économie de Rabat) is an extension of the famous Science Po schools in France and is devoted to teaching Politics, Governance, and Economics.  Its three official languages of instruction are French, English, and Arabic.  The school is smaller than my graduating high school class, with just over 250 students in both undergraduate and masters programs, and around 30 are international students.

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It’s so hard to find the time to blog! I’m learning very quickly that travel blogging is entirely different from life blogging, and I’m definitely better suited for it in a travel setting!  When you travel it’s easy to take absolutely everything in, analyze it, make sense of it, and then write something of substance.  When you’re actually living somewhere, your everyday is about so much more than observing interesting details and describing them, and it’s easy to let some of the amazing “Morocco” things slip by.

Continue reading “Ottawa”

Street Harassment

I’ve been getting some questions about harassment lately, so I thought I’d do my best to explain it a little better.

Street harassment is a massive problem around the world, but is particularly prominent in Morocco, a country that is both developing and has a cultural attitude that facilitates a male-dominated social sphere.  Hollaback!, one my favourite organizations that is working in this area, uses the following definition:

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