Prepping for arrival to Morocco was a lot of fun. The partner of a faculty member taught us a few Arabic phrases so we could be equipped with basic communication in the markets/souqs. While it was really fun to learn another language, I am not sure how much it actually helped, although I must say that “Shukran” (thank you) goes a LONG way. We took two trips in Morocco- a tour of Casablanca and a tour of Marrakech.
On the first day, we did a general city tour, and visited several locations. Of them all, my favorite was the Hassan II Mosque, which is the third largest mosque in the world. It is really a work of art, devotion, faith and genius. Everything is precisely designed- including a ceiling that opens from the top to let in the ocean breeze (which might be helpful when 25,000 people are praying inside). The mosque is on the beach, and it was actually one of the first things I could see through our window when our ship arrived into the port.
Our guide, Najet, was Muslim and of Berber heritage. We have learned a great deal about the Berber people, and how Islam came to Morocco. There is a great deal of reverence for Fatimah here, so there are many decorations that show the “hand of Fatima” as a means to ward off the evil eye.
We also visited a Catholic church in the city of Casablanca- the Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church. The architecture of the church was interesting, in that it looked like a ship- which makes sense given that it was designed by a French admiral. The stained glass in the church is breathtaking.
King Mohamed VI has palaces in most cities here in Morocco, and we were able to visit his palace in Casablanca. Again- most striking- is the sheer detail on the architecture.
While it may sound silly to say- I feel like I am in another country, and I also feel very much at home at the same time. When I see the people here, I feel a deep connection to my Sindhi identity. Seeing pieces of Morocco (there is no way to authentically say we have ‘seen’ Morocco), really encourages me to think more on our polycultural identities, and how liberating it would be if we all really focused on the permeability and fluidity of our cultures, of course considering power and privilege, but still allowing for a shared ownership of cultural journeys. Visiting cultural and historic sites has been wonderful, but for me, just being with different people has been a greater source of fulfillment.