To Morocco, with Love

sahara desert morocco at night

Morocco has been the most challenging place I’ve ever visited to sum up in a couple of posts. It’s also the place I’ve gotten the most questions about and so I tried to give some inside perspective in a previous post, and I feel like all that did was give the wrong impressions of my trip there.

I didn’t hate Morocco. At all. In fact, I count it among my top three favorite countries (Iceland and Italy rounding out the rest).

marrakech morocco souk souq

Yes–I felt constantly challenged and out of place while I was there, but as I’ve said before, I am not one who backs down from a challenge; always choosing, instead, to take the more challenging path rather than the easy one. I knew Morocco wasn’t going to be a cakewalk for me. I’d talked with plenty of people beforehand who’d been and were sour about their experiences there. I didn’t know exactly what I was in for, but I had at least a faint idea. (It also didn’t help that when I emailed the Moroccan I used to date and mentioned I was going, his first response was, “brave woman.”)

The thing is though, Morocco is the only country that I haven’t spent a day not thinking about since I left. There’s something about it that I want so deeply to understand. I feel like it’s a place I’ll continue to return to, hoping to gain something new from it each time.  It’s the only place I’ve ever stepped foot in that I have had to feel and experience with every single sense. The only country that’s ever really confounded, excited, and scared me.

moroccan flag dades gorge morocco

I think it would be such a shame for anyone to pass up an opportunity to visit this elusive country, especially based on the bad experiences that others have had. I didn’t intend at all to deter people from visiting, hoping instead just to shed some light on things one might face when visiting. If you’ve visited other developing nations (India, South Africa, etc.), you may have experienced similar things. Indeed, I saw similar things when I was in South Africa several years ago, just not to the magnitude or as close up as I did when in Morocco.

moroccan musicians in chefchaouen morocco

I often think about the many artists and writers who took up residence in Morocco in the mid-part of the 20th century. I can see why so many of these types of people were drawn to this country because it truly is inspiring. I didn’t leave my room even one day without my camera and a notebook, hoping to capture the essence (rather unsuccessfully) of my time in Morocco. That’s part of the reason that I think everyone should visit. It’s a country that is so hard to narrow down, to reduce to a few words and a few photographs. It deserves all of your attention. It deserves weeks of your time, exploring and questioning and trying desperately to understand. I’m not sure it’s a place I’ll ever truly grasp, but it’s one that I hope to someday appreciate for all that its worth.

chefchaouen blues morocco

So, in the end, I didn’t have a horrible time in Morocco. I think it’s just one of those places that needs to grow on you. One where you have to let the time there really sink in, and the stories and experiences need to age a little until you can fully recount what it meant to you. I am still ruminating about my couple weeks there, but at the same time, also sort of dreaming about when I can go back and do it all over again (this time, armed with the know-how to handle the country).

jemaa el fna marrakech morocco at night

15 thoughts on “To Morocco, with Love

  1. I had an amazing time when I visited there. I chose to ignore the frustrations that a lot of tourists get caught up in. I’d LOVE to return, next time to the Sahara!
    Andi recently posted..Nevis: Day 1My Profile

    • It’s easy to succumb to the frustrations, especially as prevalent and in-your-face as they are. But eventually, it sort of becomes second nature and they’re easy to navigate and get around.

  2. I will travel to Morocco in June and am wondering a lot how I think of the country afterwards .I’m so excited to explore everything and can’t wait to go there. But with reading a lot of posts on safety, a love/hate relationship with the country, I am just curious what I will think ;) I won’t travel solo though, but with another girl. So we’ll see what our experience will bring. I cannot wait and hopefully spend my time till then reading some more tips about travelling within Morocco on your blog.
    Stef recently posted..A Travel Dictionary for ArgentinaMy Profile

    • I hope you have a wonderful time, Stef. I think, as with most things in life, you have to take the good with the bad. It’s all in how you handle that bad that shapes your experience in and perception of a place. Being armed with a little bit of knowledge beforehand never hurt anyone though! :)

  3. We haven’t been to Morocco yet but I’ve heard so many good things about its people and their hospitality that I really want to go there.
    Lovely photos, Megan! If you like photography, we would like to invite you to participate in the next edition of our Travel Photography Competition. Every week we publish 3 winning shots on our website and write a nice bio with a link to the photographers’ websites/FB/Flickr pages. Find more details here:
    Happy travels!
    Hitch-Hikers Handbook recently posted..Camera giveaway: win Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark III!My Profile

  4. Just slowing down from more than a year of travel where I went to 24 countries and to be honest Morocco was my least favorite of all the places I went. I am glad I went but I would never go back. But this is how travel goes, no two travelers have the same experience. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    • I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy Morocco! What didn’t you like about it? Curious how our experiences may have differed.

  5. Pingback: Mainstream Media and the Brainwashing of Americans - meganotravels

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