Morocco, February 2014
That time … I felt out of place.
When asked “what was your most memorable trip?”, the first on my mind is always Morocco. A few reasons: it was the first time I travelled by myself (and met a local tour group); it was the first time I been to Africa (debatable, I know); it was the first time I really felt out of place – in the best way!
What does every Moroccan travel brochure has in common – Fez.
It was a rainy day and I had on my Curious George raincoat – bright-can-be-spot-from-a-mile-away yellow raincoat– on. It was particularly great decision that I unconsciously made, since Fez is known for its busy Kasbah. The local tour guide lead my group into many alleyways. The sounds of street merchants haggle. The smell of the local leather factory – it’s a truly memorable smell (not in the best way). My visual senses will forever be etched with some of taxidermy decorative pieces hung in the butcher shop. It was mesmerizing, and why the citron rain coat prevented me and many group members behind me from getting lost.
I still remember when I first glimpse inside of the University of Al Qarawiyyin (Al-Karaouine, Al-Quaraouiyine,– or the countless other ways of spelling it) – the oldest operating university in the world. The rainwater washed the floor of the courtyard to a pristine clean. Hearing a woman established this institution also brought a drop of inspiration in my heart.
Why did I felt out of place? Growing up in China and Canada, culturally nothing was especially shocking. But in Morocco where there isn’t a lot of Chinese tourist, I was immediately greeted with Japanese everywhere I went. The time I went was still during the Psy’s Gangnam Style craze – I was serenaded with “Hey Sexy Lady” passing by merchants. I was exposed but loved it.