Updated: Jan 11, 2019
We arrived to the crescendo of Morocco: Marrakech. The culmination of all we'd seen in every orifice of the country: sizzling tajines, singing minarets, Berber rugs and bellowing calls through the medina–they’d all made their way to Marrakech, too. Every lesson we'd learned we could apply here: haggling, basic Arabic and Berber, procuring wine.
Of course, had we started our trip in Marrakech, we would have said there were bits of Marrakech all over Morocco. Perspective is everything.
And our perspective found us culminating ten days in the most Westernized Moroccan city we'd seen. Here is where we said a teary goodbye to Youssef, our unanticipated third wheel, our expert guide who navigated us across his country, issuing curfews in the cities he deemed necessary. We didn't expect to form such a collegial bond, but it was never more apparent than when he came back for a second round of goodbyes. Clearly, it wouldn't be easy for Gwen and I to leave Morocco–nor would it be easy for Morocco to leave us.
In the days and weeks that have followed, Morocco still hasn't left my mind.
Now I see bits of Morocco in places I hadn’t noticed before: Eyeing mosques in Queens and wondering why we don’t hear the call to prayer in America (answer: "noise ordinance"); spotting traditional pointy-toed shoes and tajines in London’s Brixton Market; crossing Berber rugs with a new appreciation that the more wear they have, the more desirable they become–shoes on and all.
Details, admittedly minor and definitely forgettable, have stuck with me. The kindness of a stranger who can’t speak your language but serves you mint tea in her home as if you’re an old friend. The height of the Atlas Mountains: dwarfing you, yet somehow making you feel like you belong to them.
Belonging. That’s what I felt for Morocco. When we first arrived in Tangier, I recognized nothing of myself in the faces we passed by. But by the end of our trip, I knew Morocco would now reflect back in the faces of anyone that would ask me: ‘How was Morocco?’ To me, that is the responsibility of being a traveler: to tell the story of the place you’d been–to perpetuate truth and eradicate misconceptions and fear. An unconventional ambassadorship; a duty to share what you’ve seen and what you’ve learned so that others can find the courage and the inspiration to one day become an ambassador of truth, too.