In all our travels, Marrakech has been the best experience thus far. Morocco is so rich in culture! Us, as travelers, tend to travel with the mindset of a “tourist”, when we travel out of the country. We often forget we are visitors in a foreign land and the idea behind traveling to another place is to experience the culture it has to offer. Yes, the tourist attractions are a nice bonus and allow us to not get bored quickly, but the whole premise of boredom shouldn’t exist if you travel with an open mind.
While spontaneous travel is always exciting, it helps to do a little research prior to traveling. Learning just the mere basics can go a long way in your overall experience. It will also help shed some light on certain cultural elements we typically tend to find as taboo in our own countries.
Moroccans are very welcoming and tolerant people. If you can look beyond the beggars in the high tourist areas and the pushy salesmen in the souks, you will see the true culture of Morocco. The people are so full of life, warm, and welcoming. Everyone wants to talk to you and share their lives with you while learning about yours. A Moroccan, after having just met you, will invite you to his home for a feast, even if they don’t have a lot to give.
We met one such individual, our taxi driver, who liked us so much in our brief ride that he made us feel like family. “Do you have time one day? I want to take you to my mother’s house for some couscous chicken. Please, it’s my pleasure.” The hospitality of the Moroccan people is unbelievable.
We really wanted a see the Moroccan culture and sights beyond what was in front of us. After searching online we found Art de Cuivre Travel (link below). We opted for a day-long excursion from Marrakech to the Atlas Mountains and Berber Villages—a personalized tour catered specifically to us, at our pace. On this trip, we visited an argon oil women’s cooperative, explored the Imlil Valley, climbed the Atlas Mountains, walked through the villages in the mountains, and had lunch in a traditional Berber home.
Our guide, Kareem, was local to Imlil village. He explained the local customs and culture as we made our way through the mountain. Kareem travels this path several times a week, yet everyone he passed by greeted and hugged him as though they were old friends meeting after a long time. Everyone was so happy to see one another, pausing for brief conversations before going about their day. The people of the village may not have a lot, but they are extremely happy in their simple lives.
After the hiking adventure, we stopped by a local home for some delicious Berber cuisine. Lunch was so filling that we just did not have room for desert. “No no no. You must eat desert. You cannot go without eating. Here I will be your table and you can eat the fruits while I hold the plate for you.” To say they waited on us hand and foot is an understatement. Chatting and laughing with them, we felt like we were home.
The core of Moroccan life is family. Family takes precedence over everything: work, friends, relationships, etc. One will often find extended family gatherings for meals and teas. The people of Morocco are kind and warm and they value building personal relationships and truly care about helping others. They will often ask you about the well-being of your family, even if they never met them. They genuinely care and have an interest and concern for other people, something that is a rare find in today’s day and age.
Link: Art de Cuivre Travel