Back in Morocco: a new perspective

So it’s my last full day on the continent; I fly out tomorrow for London.

It’s been a hell of a trip. “Trip of a lifetime,” as many people have said, though it never felt like it at the time. While I was in it, it just felt… hard.

And it was. It was challenging in so many ways, and infinitely rewarding because of that (which is, of course, very easy to say now, from the comfort of Morocco). But now I can definitely see the validity in the statement.

Of course, coming back to Morocco itself has been giving me a lot to think about; it’s like stepping into another world. It’s magical here, really; I can see why there are so many tourists. It’s like Aladdin, Arabian nights; all that. Though as I always said, so much of it is completely fabricated.

But some of it’s real. Like the old men. Tons of them, huddled up in the cafés, in their djellabas, with their tea and their banter. Extremely dignified, even without many teeth to speak of. Classically Arabic, Berber; something from the desert, a nomadic heritage, whatever you want to call it.

But I struggled again to fully define how things work here and what this place is all about. A bizarre mix of tradition and modernization. And it’s amazing how much a place can change once you see it with fresh eyes. I feel almost as if they were closed the first time; but I realize you can only absorb so much at a time, and I was working on other things then.

I still see many things the same, but also notice new things now that I contrast it directly from 7 months in west Africa.

That said, the process of identifying these differences and similarities is not a simple task. As I walk down the street, I notice a thing here and a thing there (we’re in a medina: obvious difference #1. There are real shops to buy your souvenirs, where you can browse at your relative leisure, but you will pay for that convenience: thing #2), but I find it difficult to nail the less obvious things down. Everything blends together and I have a hard time separating things out. Especially the deeper and more meaningful things; the things about culture. The things about how tourism has changed, both corrupted and benefitted the country. How to measure these differences in development? How to compare and contrast these two regions of the same continent, which look and feel like they couldn’t be farther apart?

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