Riding a camel was never specifically on my bucket list but it’s been checked off anyway. A couple of my friends and I had been talking about Morocco since we arrived in September and booked the trip for one of our last weekends abroad. A few more friends decided to join and suddenly we had a group of ten boarding the ferry and heading across the Gibraltar Strait. I thought Spain felt like a different world, but Morocco was an entirely new level of that. Everything was so colorful and whimsical—even their alphabet. It made me want to learn Arabic just so that I could write such beautiful letters.
Our first stop was in Asilah where we stayed in a beautifully decorated yet soggy hotel. Everything was damp—the floor, pillows, blankets and towels, but the complementary Moroccan mint tea made up for it. Later that day we stopped along the coast of Tangier to ride camels. The camels were limited so we took turns. The camel driver directed each person to a camel, and I waited assuming I’d go in the next group. As the camels began to stand up, he realized one was still without a rider, and he pointed to me and shouted, “YOU! Run and jump, hurry!” In retrospect I probably should have just let the camel go, but I guess I was feeling up for a challenge because I sprinted and belly flopped onto the side of the rising camel. I somehow got seated as the camel pitched forward and then took off to keep up with its friends.
Our bus broke down somewhere in the mountains on our way to Chefchaouen. We asked the bus driver what had happened he smiled and told us, “Nothing! Everything is wonderful, we are just taking a little rest.” We were pretty sure he wouldn’t be crawling around under the bus if he were just resting, but eventually he fixed the problem and we continued on to Chefchaouen, known as “The Blue City.” I expected a few blue buildings here and there, but the entire city is truly Cookie Monster blue. It felt a bit like a movie set with its Arab-style arches, tapestries flapping in the breeze and shops built into caves, all of which clashed a little with the motorcycles racing up and down the dirt roads.
I definitely thought the street markets were the coolest part about Morocco, partly because of the things for sale but mostly because you have to bargain. I’d never done it before and was surprised at how much fun it was. I soon learned, however, that I had to decide if I wanted something or not before I showed any sign of interest in it. As soon as a shop owner saw us approaching, he or she would not let us leave until we had bought something. We were followed down an entire street by one man, insisting we buy his 6×6 foot rug even after we told him we couldn’t fit it in a suitcase. But there were many things I did want to buy, and I wanted to keep bargaining so I kept buying. It was a dangerous place to shop.
We were sad to leave, but it’s easy to return to a place as pretty as Seville. It’s like going from one vacation to the next except there are classes and finals while we’re in Seville. The sun is still shining and the trees have dropped almost no leaves but the oranges are ripe and all the main streets are decorated for Christmas. I love that that the atmosphere feels so Christmas-y, but it reminds me that I don’t have much time left here. I’m trying not to think about that too much and enjoy every day.