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The First Hour

Our First Hour in Morocco ... according to Amanda

It had been a few years since taking a trip to a place I had never been before. I found myself feeling slightly nervous the night before our departure - not about my safety, or flying, or being in a new place, but nervous about not getting the experience I was hoping to have while in Morocco. So many expectations for a country that had been on my “list” for as long as I could remember. Marrakech was our leading city, where we would make our debut to a continent we hope to become much more familiar with in time.

Our arrival to Marrakech felt familiar. If I closed my eyes, I could have been in any other developing country I had traveled to before, and it felt perfect, like hugging an old friend.

The air is so dry that your breath has a forced lightness to it. The windows are rolled down in the taxi swirling your hair into a tangled mess. Scooters fly by, three to a seat and the sound of horns honking fill the dead air.

Your eyes dart around like ping pong balls as you take in so many tiny moments that are whizzing by, so thirsty for everything new. Locals ride slowly by on their mule-drawn carriages calmly welcoming you with their kind eyes.

And then all at once, just as quickly as we were hurriedly whisked away from the airport, the journey comes to an abrupt halt. The taxi can go no further as the roads have thinned and only walking is permitted from here. Without our consent, a man with a wheel barrel scoops up our luggage and we quickly follow behind, curious as to who this is and where we are going. For no reason at all, we trust him.

Our first steps in this new place are exactly as I had imagined they would be. I'm walking with so much energy, I feel like I’m jumping. We had arrived to the old Medina in Marrakech where our Riad is located and my senses are on absolute overload. The sound of clanking spoon to plate as the men eat their breakfast under thatched roofs where the morning sun shines through. The tails of donkeys swing so close to your face, catching smells you just aren’t ready for. Butchers, cobblers and other shop owners prepare their stalls for the day’s customers. Water is splashed down the skinny roads, in an attempt to wash away the stains and odors of yesterday. The sound of strong, beautiful and unfamiliar voices speaking in Arabic are just a few of the many reminders of how far we are from home.

Within one hour of our arrival, I realized I had no reason to feel nervous about my experience in Morocco. This place would fill me up if I just opened my eyes.

People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Street Scene in Marrakech from AMANDA ERNST on Vimeo.





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