Story & Photos by Jacquelyn Zeman – News Editor
From May 18 to 30, a delegation of nine students and four professors from Grand Rapids Community College traveled approximately 4,146 miles to Morocco. Collegiate News Editor Jacquelyn Zeman went on the trip and documented the experience each day. Read on for her photo-illustrated travelogue, and her updated introduction post to her trip right here. For a day by day look back at Morocco, follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @jacquelynzeman, or read her pervious posts about the trip.
Day 10 – May 27
We started our last day in Morocco by heading to the mosque that rose taller than any of the other buildings in Marrakech. Our last co-op stop of the trip was to a pharmacy. We were given a presentation of different spices and traditional remedies the pharmacy had to offer.
They had a traditional Moroccan remedy for nearly everything. The man who gave us the presentation learned from his father who was also a pharmacist. Even though he said he learned much from his father, he was the first in his family to go to college for his profession.
The medina of Marrakech is one of the well-known medinas in Morocco, and there were tourists from all over the world everywhere. At the stands in the middle of the square there were trained monkeys, snake charmers, and fortunetellers who yelled out to us by giving a quick summary of their services to attract business.
That afternoon we went to Majorelle Gardens, a world famous botanical garden similar to Fredrick Meijer Gardens, although quite smaller. The architecture that surrounded the gardens was quite impressive. There were designs and murals that covered all of the walls, and everything was painted in bright and lively colors.
The plants were massive, and as soon as I walked into the gardens, I noticed that the bamboo in the entrance had been carved on by tourists, who marked their visit to the garden by writing their name in the bamboo.
That afternoon back at our riad, a woman came to do henna for us. It was nothing like anything I’ve seen in the U.S. before. She used a lot of gray ink to draw on our hands or feet, and she made quite an impressive design on each of us. This cost me 50 dirhams, or $6.25 in U.S. currency.
We were told throughout the entire trip never to get henna from any of the women with stands on the street. They were known to have chemicals in their henna that would cause rashes. In almost every major city we went to in Morocco, I was approached by one of these women. The woman who came into our riad was a friend of the woman who ran the riad, so we knew she would not have anything strange in her henna.
Some of them were so determined that they would grab some tourists by the hand and start putting henna on without their approval. After putting the henna on them, they would order that the tourist pay them. We ran into an Australian woman in the airport on our way home who was forced into getting henna done this way. Her skin was red due to the chemicals in the henna.
The last night we were in Morocco we went into the medina at night. At night food only stands would open in the middle of the square, and the owners would encourage tourists to come and try camel, different kinds of fruit, and other meats from them. They would call the girls from our group any name they could think of that they would think we would recognize, in order to get our attention. Many of us were called Lady Gaga, Shakira, or Beyoncé.
My last mission of the trip was to buy Moroccan cookies to bring home as a gift for my brother. I’ve never had anything quite like the cookies I ate there, and I was determined to bring some back to the U.S. The people who worked in the pastry shop were very nice, and they let me try a little bit of each cookie before I decided on which ones I wanted.
I left with a box of eight different kinds of cookies, around thirty cookies total. They were put in a small box with French writing all over it, and wrapped in aluminum foil for me to take home. The cookies were a gift for my brother, but they were a piece of the Moroccan culture I had experienced for the last week and a half that I thought he would appreciate.