Tétouan, Morocco

When I woke up Thursday morning BEFORE the sun rose and walked to the bus in complete darkness, I thought to myself, “Morocco can’t be cool enough to wake up this early. Nothing is worth this torture.”

My study abroad program scheduled and planned the entire trip for 30 kids, including the 7:00 AM departure on a bus. Thanks CIEE (with intense sarcasm).

But as it turns out, it actually was worth waking up that early! Thanks CIEE (I mean it this time). Once I got past the two hour bus ride, hour long ferry trip, and then another forty five minutes by bus to Tétouan, I was much less salty about how early I had woken up. Morocco is truly amazing, and I’m sure my four hours worth of naps while traveling helped improve my mood too.

The first thing we saw in Tétouan was a trade school. I was expecting it to be the equivalent of an American technical college, but it was nothing like that. Most kids that went to school there were about 12-15, and were learning how to make beautiful, traditional pieces of art instead of going to regular school. After completing their studies, they receive some sort of official craftsmen certificate and go straight into the workforce.

We visited classrooms that had woodworking, painting, molding, welding, and many other trades that I had never seen before. The pieces they make there are truly amazing, as you can see here.

After visiting the trade school, we had lunch at a decently normal, non-Spanish time! It was still later, like around 1:30, but I wasn’t quite ready to eat my own hand like I am all the time in Sevilla.

We entered the cutest, traditional looking Moroccan restaurant where half of us sat on real chairs and the other half on wall couches. We got a really great mystery red colored soup, and an enormous plate full of couscous, chicken, chickpeas, and onions. It also had a lot of cinnamon in it, which was an interesting mixture with the chicken, but I really liked it.

Tetouan 8

During lunch, a tiny Moroccan man came downstairs all dressed up, with a platter full of lit candles in his hand. Wasn’t anything shocking until he started dancing with it, spinning around, rolling on the full, a complete routine. He even spun the platter on his head. It was pretty impressive and I slightly feared for my and his life, but nobody ended up burned.

We had some tiny little cookies with dried fruit in them for dessert, along with mint tea. Moroccans are OBSESSED with mint tea. Or at least they obsessed with serving it to Americans. I had mint tea with almost every single meal while I was there. I actually hate tea usually, because I have a strong aversion to hot drinks (I know it’s weird). But this tea, once it cooled down to a temperature I could handle, was actually really good. It’s incredibly sweet, which is probably why I liked it, and didn’t taste much like mint despite the multiple mint leaves soaking in the water.

Once we were properly stuffed like Thanksgiving turkeys, we took a walking tour of the city of Tétouan. The Spanish section of the city looked like it belonged in Sevilla, and had tons of Andalucian architecture. Tétouan was pretty cool itself, and had lots of different parts to the city. The most interesting part though, was definitely the walk through the market.

The market was a stereotypical street market: lots of little food shacks on a narrow street. There were fruit stands, vegetable stands, and meat stands. Live meat stands. Giant pens of chickens lined the streets, and we could hear their last dying screams. A classmate walking in front of my actually saw one get it’s throat slit. I’m very glad his body blocked my view of that sight, because he was moaning in agony for about 20 minutes, clearly scarred for life.

Tetouan 7

And the smells. Oh the smells. Giant buckets of non-refridgerated fish have a stench that is really, truly, awful. But that wasn’t even the worst part.

At one point in the tour, our guide handed us some mint leaves. Cool, more mint leaves I guess! They love them in this country.

WRONG

He gave them to us to hold against our noses so we wouldn’t upchuck while walking down a specific street. Along this certain street were vats of dye, filled with pieces of dead cow. Yes, a beautiful sight and wonderful smell. They use this area to dye leather, but I could have sworn they were storing dead bodies somewhere. I almost vomited multiple times, even with my mint leaf face mask.

Tetouan 14
view from the top of the smelly leather street

Don’t worry, there were lots of cool sights (like cute cats) on the tour too. We got to see a palace, and we walked by some very beautiful mosques. Just not quite as memorable as the murder of a chicken or street that smells like death itself.

I wish I could say that I raged in Morocco, but I did exactly the opposite. Firstly because Morocco is pretty much a dry country, and it didn’t look like there were any places to go out. Secondly because it wasn’t allowed on a school run trip. And lastly because we got up every morning before 6:00 AM to travel as much as possible.

So I was boring and went to bed before 10 PM every night. But we did find a really awful Katherine Heigl rom-com on the only English channel to watch before bed, so that was pretty lit way to end the day.

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