We have recently returned from an amazing trip to Morocco! We went there with the desire to learn, to see, and to connect with people and landscape. We were definitely able to do all those things and so much more. It is an exciting time at Travel Life adventures and we can’t wait to share all the new and amazing transformational travel possibilities we have been working on.
Morocco is a place that has so many amazing things: rich culture, fascinating history, amazing food, beautiful mountains, beaches, and the famous Sahara desert. On our trip there we fell in love with this country and people. It is a beautiful but challenging place to be, real and in your face and at times frustrating. But if you dig deeper and allow it to be what it will be, there is real beauty there that is not be missed. One of the ways to really connect to a place is to get away from the tourist trail and experience a place for what it truly is. Here are five ways that you can do that in Morocco.
Stay in a Traditional Riad
There are many options of where you can stay while in Morocco but our suggestion is to stay in a Riad. A Riad is a traditional house in Morocco which is characterized by having an inner garden or courtyard as central element of the building. The Arab word “Ryad” means garden. The rooms are beautiful with crown molding, gorgeous bathrooms and a comfy bed. All the rooms face inward toward the garden creating a tranquil feel with an open top bringing the sky and outside within. Not only that, but you will be served traditional Moroccan food and mint tea during your stay. Every city or town in Morocco usually has at least a few Riads to choose from, with larger cities having many options located in all different parts of town. These amazing lodgings put you right in the thick of the action while being close to the everyday lives of local people.
Avoid Luxury Tours
The tourism infrastructure in many parts of Morocco is well established if not limited in variety. There is a ton of luxury tours, fancy camps, and five-star resorts that will offer you everything you could want. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with relaxing next to a pool, but if you really want to get a true feel of Morocco I suggest you avoid these and find a local guide that can really show you their home. Because the tourist trails are so defined, with minimal effort you can find your way into some truly unique and amazing experiences that are comfortable and easy to locate. Do some research ahead of time, even better try to get in contact with someone local or someone recommended to you. Ask lots of questions and be specific with what you are looking for. In Morocco a whole world of transformative experiences lie just off the beaten path.
Learn a Little Arabic
This is one of the most important points for travel in general, but especially in Morocco. Many locals speak some small amount of English, especially in cities or on organized tours but it is not widespread. Your experience is going to be that much better if you learn some of the local language. You don’t have to be fluent but making an effort to learn some key phrases, greetings, and important questions will go a long way to connecting with people. They also speak French there but from everyone we talked to Arabic is the preferred language and what they are proud to speak. Learning things like “Where is the bathroom?” and “How much does this cost?” are helpful things. Just making an effort will create a positive interaction with Moroccan people.
Get a Woman’s Perspective
The life experience of men and women in Morocco is very different. The one thing that we found is that interacting with the local woman is so important and a great way to get a different perspective on Morocco. When traveling there most of the people you will naturally interact with are men. Service workers, tour guides, drivers etc are typically male, so it takes some effort to connect with women in a meaningful way. There is a great organization based in Rabat called Amal (http://amalnonprofit.org). They train local woman who are coming out of abusive relationships, or in some form of disadvantage, in culinary skills. They offer cooking classes you can take or you can sit down and have lunch, dinner or breakfast as well.
Get In Touch With Nomadic Culture
Morocco is home to some of the last remaining truly nomadic people in the world. Some of our most profound and memorable experiences in Morocco came from interacting and learning from these amazing and resilient people. We heard heartbreaking stories of how their way of life is threatened and the sacrifices they make to maintain a life that they love and are proud of. Often times nomadic lifestyles are either idealized or written off as backwards or “old” ways of living. Getting to meet these people we learned of their challenges, their victories, and the deep connection they have with movement, space, and Earth. This would be our most recommended way to learn about Morocco and its people.