All my previous farewell letters went to cities, but this one, because of the confidence we have and because I feel I had the opportunity to know her well enough, will be to a country.
Where to start Morocco! Everything in you seems part of a dream, something unreal. I still remember as if it were today that April 18th when we walked your streets for the first time, in the city of Tetouan, and we walked as slowly as we could through the medina, because we wanted to use every second to see even the smallest detail that appeared before our eyes. We felt in another world, in another time, in another reality. All our senses were open to know you better, something that we were doing little by little, during these 86 days in which you received us.
In this time we learned some words in Arabic, one of your official languages and some in French, one of your unofficial languages, which is still spoken widely, as a living memory of your recent colonialist past. We also practiced English that had to be as rustic as possible and spoken with much patience and gestures, but in general we always managed to communicate with your people.
In these 86 days we also traveled through your flavors, which were, like everything else, another complete novelty. We even learned to prepare several typical dishes, knowledge that you gave us as the best souvenir that from now on we will always carry with us. We learned to cook tagine, batboot (one of your many typical breads), mint tea, avocado smoothie, Moroccan salad. Anyway, I have to confess that, especially at the end of our trip, I missed my accustomed flavors a bit. I do not say “normal” because normality no longer exists in our lives, but you understand me, I mean those things that you eat and that bring you memories, that are familiar to you. I understand now what it means that it is necessary to have wings and also roots.
We also met a totally new form of urban organization for us and so well known to you: the medinas. Getting lost and touring them again and again was one of my favorite activities. They are something so unique. They are chaos and magic, all in one, forming an indivisible unity. I remember that when we were about to arrive and we asked Adbel for his address (our first host who opened the doors of his house through couch-surfing in the heart of Tetuan’s medina), he replied that most of the houses in the medina had no address. And I thought how could it be possible, how they receive a letter, an invoice, or invite a friend to their house. Now I remember those thoughts of that Noe and see how much learning I had ahead of me.
Another thing I loved was your souks, a form of commerce as direct and pure as you can imagine. No plastic, products from other latitudes, nothing from large brands; producer and consumer, nothing more. How tasty and fresh your vegetables and fruits are, where everything is organic not because it has a label that says it but because it is the only form of cultivation you have, on a very small scale and for local consumption. It was great to be part of this dynamic trade and do our shopping there, as your people have done for centuries.
And what about your art and architecture! I will tell you a secret: Islamic architecture has always been my weakness and living for 86 days surrounded by mosques, tiles and fountains was a delight for all the senses. I will miss the presence of all those elements that fascinate me and make you so beautiful. And I promise you that when one day I will build a home somewhere, I will come back to visit you and buy all the thousands of things that I loved, such as teapots, carpets, tiles, pillows, fabrics, etc., which I did not buy now because I need to travel light, so I can continue to know the world (don’t get jealous!)
I also have to tell you that there were times when you exhausted my patience, but in every relationship it is normal to fight, isn’t it? You have some customs so different from mine, like the one of infinite bargaining, which at times surpassed me. You are an intense country, did you know? We wanted to see you with all your authenticity, live as much as possible in the local way, but at times it was difficult for us. But do not worry, there are no grudges, I am happy with the type of trip I chose to travel you (you and the world), far from luxury camps in the desert and many other things that do not reflect the reality of your people. Although sometimes it is more tiring, I assure you that each step was worth it, and made us grow a lot as travelers and as people.
And speaking of people, if you allow me, I take this letter to thank all those who collaborated in one way or another and with their grain of sand and immense hospitality, made this trip possible. Thanks to Adbel, Nejma, Loek, Adbelilah, Yasse and Mick for opening the doors of their houses without expecting anything in return, being happy to hear our story and share with us their vision of Morocco in the first person. Thanks to Hamza and Zaid for being our friends, guides and translators at Nejma’s house in Fes. Thanks to Nidal and Tessa for our two very good experiences of volunteer work. Thanks to all the many drivers who were happy to take us in their cars and share their paths with us for a little while.
And thanks to you Morocco. For the beautiful moments we lived. Through the mountains, the snow, the sun, the rain, the desert, the sea, the colors. For the calls to prayer that gave me goosebumps. For being so authentic. For being the place that, after much dreaming, saw my blog being born. For having made us reflect on your history, your people, your culture. For having taught us so much and having been part of this constant learning, which is the journey, which is life.
Where do farewell letters to places come from?
Writing a farewell letter to a place is not something that occurred to me, but I borrowed this idea from the travel writer I most admire and who is a great inspiration to me, Aniko Villalba. I freshly remember reading in her blog www.viajandoporahi.com, her farewell letter to Biarritz, which made me come to tears (and you can read it by clicking here)
PostScript: subjective story versus practical information
This farewell letter comes from our experiences and is 100% subjective. If what you are looking for is practical and useful information for traveling in Morocco, with statistics and specific data, you can find all that and much more in this post Morocco: practical guide for travelers (by clicking here).
Do you want to read another farewell letter?
Here I leave the one I wrote to Madrid