When I first was asked by my parents if I had any interest in going to Africa, I didn't even know what to say. In fact, I was surprised that they were even asking. I was the kid who wanted to shun school and travel the world. I wanted to go to all the places that most people don't even dream of having the opportunity to visit. So just months later, new passport in hand, I was at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, ready to begin the nearly 30-hour journey to Fes, Morocco, with my aunt for the wedding of her coworker. 24 hours later, we were at Brussels-South Charleroi Airport, two flights and a taxi transfer. We were about to begin the final leg from Brussels to Fes and I had no Idea what to expect. It would be my first international trip, and I was diving right in, heading to an Arabian country just hours away from Europe. By this point, I was running on pure adrenaline as opposed to sleep.
Fast forward three and a half days, and we were going into hour four of a five-to-six-hour long traditional Moroccan wedding. There would be 45 minutes of chest-rattling music, then a 15 minute break in which the bride would change her dress and come back out decked out in a brand new ensemble. After six hours of the dress-and-repeat routine, dinner was served around 1 a.m. local. It was an experience like no other. Language flew around us, with guests speaking Arabic, French, German, and English. Needless to say, I was in awe for the whole event. In the days before that, we explored the city of Fes, the oldest in Morocco. It reminded me of what I had seen in movies about India, with cars driving crazily, no rhyme or reason to the traffic pattern. We saw old temples, palaces, and the Medina ("old city"), a cramped, crowded space that poured culture like it breathed. It was the most incredible scene that I had ever seen in my life.
After the wedding, we made the car ride to Marrakesh, arguably the most popular place in Morocco, where we faced lots of people, aggressive panhandling, and occasionally out of control camels. These were all part of the incredible charm and livelihood of the city. One of my favorite experiences while there was riding a camel through some small desert towns outside of Marrakesh. It was pretty surreal to think that here I was, nearly 4,000 miles from home, riding camels into towns with little electricity or running water in Northern Africa. The ride was incredibly enjoyable, but also made me think about a lot of things. It made me think how fortunate I was to live in the United States, how fortunate I was to be able to travel the world, and how fortunate I am that I can share my experiences with others.
It's like my drug, and I'm kind of addicted to it. See you in the sky.
Camel Driver and I.