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.
Day 9 – May 26
The last days of our trip were spent in the city of Marrakech, and surrounding areas.
One of the most culturally enhancing experiences I had during the trip was the day we spent with a Berber family outside of the city of Marrakech. Berbers are the ethnicity that is indigenous to North Africa, west of the Nile Valley. We visited with them for several hours, and we mostly sat outside of their house visiting with them.
During the time we spent with the family, we learned how to cook a tagine, which is a stew of spiced meat and vegetables that is prepared by slow cooking in a shallow dish. We also learned how their traditional bread is made, and how to mix tea properly. Making tea was simpler than I initially thought it would be. We learned how to mix the leaves within the teapot. Most of the time the tea was poured into a glass with more leaves. Once the tea cooled, the leaves would fall to the bottom of the cup, and then you could drink it.
The best part of that day was getting to spend time with a family that was just going through a typical day.
The family we were with owned a business that gave tourists an experience to see how typical Moroccans lived. The children of the family, a boy who was 3, and a girl who was 5, were playing and interacting with us while we were there. The father of the children told us that his daughter only knew four words of English, but her parents were encouraging her to learn more. She was not shy about interacting with our group, even though she could barely talk to us.
We were split into different groups to make tagine and bread. The whole process of making the food, start to finish, was about 90 minutes.
We drove to Marrakech, where we would spend our last days in Morocco. We were dropped off right in the middle of the town square that led into the medina of Marrakech. This was the only time we ever walked through the medina with our suitcases because all of the other places we had stayed were far removed from the medina, or were out in the country.
The first thing I noticed about the actual city of Marrakech was most of the population I could see was riding bikes and motorcycles in order to perform their errands. Children even rode on the front of some bikes as their parents or siblings would drop them off at school. There were several instances where I thought one of the riders was going to hit me because of how close they rode to the pedestrians, and how fast they were going.
Riads are traditional Moroccan houses that have an interior garden or courtyard. The one we stayed at was right in the medina. When we walked up to the roof of the riad, we could see out into the city, and down into the medina.
The riad was quite small, and run by only two people. Our group was the only one there for both nights, because the riad could not hold any more people.