Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Whole New World

This past weekend was definitely one of my favorites during my time studying abroad!!  A large group of us went to Morocco with a student organization called Discover Alicante.  The organization planned all of our activities, gave us tours of the cities we visited, and in general made sure we were safe and aware of our surroundings.  It was a LONG weekend of travel... first our plane left from Alicante to Sevilla, Spain at 6AM.  My host dad insisted on driving me and two of my friends to the airport even when I told him over and over that we did not mind taking a cab at all.  We left for the airport bright and early and arrived in Sevilla that morning.  We first had to make a stop in Starbucks, but after that we toured around the city because our bus did not leave untill later that afternoon.  We saw a few landmarks, Real Alcazar and the Catedral, but the best part was taking a horse drawn carriage around the whole city.  After our ride we laid by the Guadalquivir river and enjoyed the sun (it was so warm!) 
Right after our carriage ride.  Reminded me of Charleston!!

View across the Rio Guadalquivir

Sights around Sevilla

Finally we met our excursion group and our bus took us from Sevilla to Tarifa, the port city at the southernmost tip of Spain.  We were all so excited to step foot in Africa (for the first time!).  I was picturing the ferry being an outdoor boat and cold, I'm not sure why, but it was actually really nice and had a cafe and everything you could need (including a shop that sold pretzel m&ms yum!)  After the ferry we arrived in Tangers, Morocco and headed to our hotel.  Dinner at the hotel was a typical meal of cous-cous and many other courses.  I enjoyed the vegetables but I have to admit I am not a cous-cous fan.  The next morning started early and we headed to Tetouan to tour the city.  I enjoyed this city a lot, but it was a poorer region than Tangers and seeing the people here reminded me how blessed I truly am.  We toured a tannery, where they make animal fur and hides usable.  Here we saw pretty bad work conditions and it smelled awful.  Seeing the men in the tannery showed me how hard they were working just to receive a very minimal salary. 

Tetouan, Morocco

After the city tour we headed towards the coast to see the beach and ride camels!!  I loved the camel ride and the coastline was gorgeous- the waves were huge!
Quite the nature girl....

The next day we toured Chefchaouen, Morocco.  On our way to the city we realized that a man had been hanging on to the bottom of our bus because he thought we were headed straight for the ferry at the border.  However, I guess he was in for a surprise when we ended up driving about 2 hours in the opposite direction.  He banged on the bottom of the bus until people in the back could hear it through the floor.  We pulled over and immediately after the man hopped down and ran away.  Although the occurence was very strange, it again showed me how some people are desparate to improve their living conditions by going to Spain, for example.  Chefchaouen was a beautiful Mediterranean-styled city with all the buildings being white and blue.  The city was also safer and after our tour we were able to divide up and shop in the market.  We got to bargain with the vendors and that was really fun.  I ended up getting some great items, but many are souveneirs so I will not go into too much detail!  Later that night we returned to Tangiers to cross back to Spain, then drove back to Sevilla.  We headed to the airport and ended up flying early Monday morning back to Alicante.  We arrived about 20 minutes before our 9AM class and hopped in a cab and headed to class!

Chefchaouen, Morocco

After the long weekend I was definitely glad to come back to Alicante.  I also felt like I saw the world in a whole new way because I feel so blessed.  I live in an amazing country (Spain's great too) with numerous opportunities,  a place of equal opportunities for men and women, and am surrounded by family and friends that love me.  This weekend my best friend from home Becca got engaged!! I was sad that I could not be there to celebrate with her but could not be happier for her!  The weekend was a wonderful experience... not to mention the Moroccan tea was DELICIOUS!  This week I found out that two of my classes have 10-15 page papers (in Spanish) due right around spring break... so I will definitely have a busy few weeks ahead of me.  Tomorrow morning our whole CIEE group is headed to Granada.  Can't wait for another fun trip!

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