Every day our lives seem to revolve around an unmanageable list of tasks. The day ends and there still seems to be a list of things waiting no matter how hard we try. Then, when we get time off the only thing we want to do is turn our brains off and not think for a few days. When we envision vacation, we think only of beaches and sunshine. We want to escape to a world where it seems reality cannot reach us. While I certainly understand the need for a beach getaway, I also have a large desire to travel and experience new cultures, new languages, new ways of living. There is something very enlightening about visiting a new place and completely immersing yourself in a different culture. It is humbling, terrifying, and exhilarating.
If you are looking for something unlike your other vacations consider traveling to Morocco. This country full of culture and history has plenty to see and experience. It is also home to coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea just in case you need a day of beach rejuvenation.
With French, Spanish, and Arabic influences, Morocco is home to a colorful variety of traditions and events to witness. With many museums you can learn about the history including the Berber People which were the original inhabitants of Morocco. Follow the evolution of the tribal Berbers and the eventual invasions of the Phoenicians as well as the Carthaginians. Learn how the Spanish and Portuguese made their claim and how the Moroccans fought back trying to recover the coastal towns owned by Portugal in 1700. For a time, Morocco was also divided by France and Spain in 1904 and even Germany sent a gunboat in 1911 trying to carve a piece for itself. In 1957 Spain relinquished much of its control of Morocco, but even today Morocco is still fighting for full control of the Saharan Desert.
In addition to the fine craftsmanship, the architecture is everyday functional art that decorates the streets. The enormous, scaling archways make an entrance feel like a passage to a palace. Vibrant color and geometric patterns are staples to the architecture creating inlaid decoration. Courtyards and gardens are also important aspects of the buildings and provide accent with lush and natural beauty. The city of Fez is the perfect place to explore the beauty of the architecture. It is home to the world’s oldest university, the Al-Qarawiyyin University as well as monuments and the Medersa Bou Inania. This elaborate building is one of the few that is still used for religious purposes and allows non-Muslims to enter. The Medersa Bou Inania is the most extravagant of all the monuments and was the last building built by a Merenid Sultan. The cost to build it was so outrageous it is said that the Sultan threw the accounts into the river upon the completion saying “a thing of beauty is beyond reckoning.”
One of the best things about travel is the exotic cuisine. As for Moroccan food, the rich blend of spices used create a taste that is uniquely Moroccan. The spices are a particular source of pride and the seasonings are so delicately selected that it takes a skilled palate and a familiar chef to create the mouthwatering dishes. Combinations of cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika, and more are mixed to make a symphony that will stimulate your taste buds. Fresh bread is served with every meal and compliments the rich taste of the spices. Try the succulent meats including the slow-roasted lamb or tangine which is select meat with an array of vegetables slow-cooked in a pottery container. Make sure to try a glass of the delicious mint tea with your meal as well.
Beyond the walls of the city, explore the countryside with camel trekking or travel through the Atlas Mountains. Climb the Todra Gorge and breathe in the sights of the natural wonder. Take a moment to pretend that the breathtaking landscape is your only reality and take advantage of the fact that no phone calls or emails can reach you for one liberating, glorious afternoon. Visit Volubilis which was the main city of Roman Morocco and touch the ruins of an ancient city. Morocco is full of natural and manmade sights that will captivate you. Explore a new world and lose yourself in the history of a fascinating culture.