2020 New Year Resolution - Travel to UNPLUG
Nearly 12 million tourists visit Morocco and a large percentage of them end up crowding the narrow allies of my neighborhood. Big cities like Marrakech and Fes are the perfect place to explore and get to know the true Morocco. Unfortunately, many just come in as tourists, and nothing more, I came, I saw, and I checked in. Missing out on the chance to know the true, real, magnificent Morocco.
I was ready to retire my presence on social media as “At Home In Morocco”. I felt like I couldn’t compete with all the extravagance blogs, pages, and accounts out there.
I didn’t choose Morocco, Morocco chose me. I made a life from nothing and zero family and friends' support. I made my home in Morocco because I have no home to go to. I am a reject, I am the black sheep in the family. I have to make it in Morocco simply because I have no other place to go to.
I’ve learned to embrace that nothing in Morocco gets done on time. I’ve adjusted well to strangers asking me if I have any kids or if I’m married or if I’m Muslim. I trained myself to see only the beauty of this kingdom. I’ve tried hard not to get involved in the dirty tourist business. I’ve promoted Morocco as if I was working for the Moroccan Ministry of tourism….LOL!
I feel that there are a handful of businesses and blogs that truly have the best of interest for this country. Sadly, many are boosting their business by claiming to be ethical and respectful of the land and the creatures living in this kingdom, humans, and animals.
Here is my formula that I acquired from living in poverty and in a war-torn country. If one party is in a weak position, then the non-vulnerable party is the one collecting the profit.
Despite the large numbers of tourists visiting Morocco and the so many sectors catering to the tourism industry, this growth is failing to meet Morocco’s needs. Social disparities, an enormous gap between rich and poor, and the 26.2% of adults that are illiterate are facts that are holding Morocco from meeting its needs and creating vulnerability. A significant number of the illiterate population are from rural areas that descent on big cities like Marrakech and Fes to earn a living in the flourishing tourism industry, hardly making ends meet. Most authentic Moroccan rugs are being sold online for unheard prices, all claiming to be made in some village by women that are well compensated for their work. Many are trying to market an off the beat travel experience, exclusive trips where there are no tourists, travel like a local, etc….. all BS!!! All part of a big tourist scam that I got sick and tired of and I refuse to take part in it.
You could say that I felt burnt out and needed to UNPLUG!
Over the years, we have taken many road trips across Morocco to explore and for me to learn as much as I can about my adopted country. I have learned to relax and enjoy the ride. Mainly, because our first trip was a disaster because things didn’t go as I planned.
This trip was different. I have asked my husband that I needed time to unplug, to unwind, and to explore the authentic Morocco that I have grown fond of, away from the tourists' mayhem. where should we go?
He said he will arrange a trip but I have to comply with all the rules and keep all complaining till the end. I happily agreed.
These were his rules.
- 2-minute x 2/day for social media
- no photos of our food
- no one is going to DIE if you don’t reply immediately
- start rehearsing for that silent retreat that you keep talking about
- and habibo, just TRUST, trust that everything is going to be ok and if not, c’est la vie babe!
So, I trusted him and packed my backpack and he packed his. Packing lightly was part of the UNPLUG trip we were about to take. As usual, we loaded the car with our big fluffy violet blanket and two pillows. He bought two kilos of fresh juicy mandarins from the seller near where the car was parked. Up to this point, I didn’t know where we were going, I was just trusting.
My fingers were itching to put more likes or comment more on so many new and beautiful posts. I wanted to use my two minutes wisely. I have to check my 2 accounts on Instagram, my Facebook page and personal account, all the crap I receive on WhatsApp, all under 2 minutes. I had to trust, relax, and enjoy the ride.
We drove up north and we didn’t have any plans on our travel agenda other than enjoying authentic Morocco. We stopped when we felt tired, we ate when we were hungry, and we avoided answering our phones. I love Morocco…I love all of Morocco….the bad, the ugly and the not so kind. But, this face of Morocco is the most enjoyable, the true and humble little towns scattered throughout Morocco. I remember in 2012 we stumbled upon a little town painted in blue and we were so thrilled to discover this cute sleepy little town. I made sure we avoided Chefchaoune this trip, although I had no say to where we are going or where we are staying but he gets it. I enjoyed not deciding for once and accept what’s being offered to me.
In this Morocco, the one I travel through, I experienced none of the street harassment that I’m accustomed to in Fez or Marrakech. In this Morocco, people are genuine, like truly genuine not appearing genuine. In this Morocco, prices didn’t get up because I looked different. In this Morocco, people smiled at me warmly and with good intentions. In this Morocco, a woman invited me to her house to taste her bread that was made with Rubia roots. In this Morocco, I feel AT HOME. My love for Morocco is unconditional!
Our last stop was Marrakech to visit with our family who recently lost its son. And by then I had gotten used to the idea of not checking my Instagram every five minutes. I also ended my trip with a bad case of the flu….it was all worth it!
My new motto for 2020 is "TRUST"
Happy New Year