By: Amanda Reid, Columnist
I honestly had no idea what to expect when I stepped off the plane onto Moroccan soil, but Morocco exceeded my expectations.
I travelled with my ISA program, and there were about 90 total students there from Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona, Salamanca and Valencia.
We spent our first day in Fez where we got to explore the Medina, which is an enormous marketplace. We were taken into shops and we saw how the ornate metal plates, ceramics, leather and clothes are made, which was incredibly cool. We were then taken to a pharmacy where we learned how argan oil is made as well as many other different types of cosmetics. The girls on the trip had a field day in the Medina before we returned to our hotel.
At a belly-dancing show that night, some of the dancers pulled many kids from the program up to dance with them which was very entertaining. There were also drummers who came in and a magician, so all in all day one was pretty great.
The second day we traveled by bus to the Sahara, which is about a seven hour drive from Fez. It was definitely the most beautiful drive I have ever experienced. We drove past beautiful landscapes and even stopped and ate lunch in an oasis. We finally arrived in the desert and had to ditch the buses for Jeeps that would take us the rest of the way to the camp. It was six people to one Jeep, and our Jeep driver was awesome.
He quickly learned that we were a very enthusiastic group, and he played American music while we cheered him on to race against the other Jeeps. We then watched the incredible sunset before driving the rest of the way to camp.
The tents were enormous, with all of the girls sleeping in one tent and all of the guys sleeping in another.
Our beds were mattresses with sheets on them and then a really thick blanket on top, because the desert was cold at night. That night we were able to stargaze, and I will never forget how incredible the view was. Everywhere you looked you could see stars. I saw about ten shooting stars and you could even see the Milky Way.
The next morning, we were woken up so we could watch the sunrise over the sand dunes, and while we were watching the sunrise, our camels began to arrive. All 90 of us hopped on camels and then rode to an enormous sand dune, which we then had to climb.
The view was amazing from the top, and before I knew what was happening, one of the local children had grabbed me by my ankles and pulled me down the dune! It was basically sledding without the sled and it was so fun.
We then returned to the camp for lunch where many of the boys from the trip played soccer against the local boys, while the girls received henna tattoos. That night we were able to watch the stars again while some of the locals played the drums and guitar around us.
Then at last it was time to leave the desert and head to Meknes, another seven hour drive away. This drive seemed so much longer because everyone was dying to shower off the thin layer of sand that coated every one of us. I have to admit, that was the best shower I have ever taken in my life. Unfortunately, as I’m writing this five days later, I have learned you can wash the sand off your body, but you can’t get the sand out of your shoes.
The next morning we left Meknes and flew home to Madrid (it still feels strange to be calling Madrid home now) and we all took the long metro ride back to our host families. It was a phenomenal trip, probably one of the best I have ever been on, and I do hope to go back some day.