Photo of the Week
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Morocco, Summer 2009

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Photos!

Elizabeth Johnson,Morocco, Summer 2009

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Posted On

07/24/09

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Elizabeth Johnson

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    [post_title] => Dragon Head Shots Part II
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Morocco, Summer 2009

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Dragon Head Shots Part II

Cara Lane,Morocco, Summer 2009

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Posted On

07/24/09

Author

Cara Lane

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    [post_content] => Turbans, scarves, zifs...whatever you like to call them are necessary for any trek through the High Desert of Morocco!
    [post_title] => Dragon Head Shots Part I
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Morocco, Summer 2009

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Dragon Head Shots Part I

Cara Lane,Morocco, Summer 2009

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Turbans, scarves, zifs…whatever you like to call them are necessary for any trek through the High Desert of Morocco!

Posted On

07/24/09

Author

Cara Lane

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    [post_title] => Picture the High Atlas
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Morocco, Summer 2009

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Picture the High Atlas

Cara Lane,Morocco, Summer 2009

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Posted On

07/24/09

Author

Cara Lane

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As we sit on a terrace at the Casbah de Itrane hoteloverlooking the actual Casbah, we sip on tea and I think about our recently completed trek. The night before our trek we went around our ceremonial circle and expressed to each other our fears, support, and goals.

Looking back I think we were true to our words. There were times when we were all sick or upset and needed a lift, and there was always someone to help us out. We learned how to get up and out in the mornings, work through conflict, and got out of storming.We learned not only about ourselves, but about Moroccans as well.

Our guides were amazing. They taught us Berber vocab, and best of all Berber songs and drumming!!!!!!!! (IT WAS AWESOME!!!) Whenever anyone was having a tough time Mohommad told us to take it shwiya by shwiya and kulshi labas and even give us a high pitched batata to cheer us up. I wanted to take him back to America with me; it was sad to leave them.

We also had Abdu with us for the trek. He spoke English as well and taught us Tam. and helped us with script. So wetaught him how to say "girlllll no you didn't!" We were sad when he left this morning.

Sillyness aside though, we learned valuable things from Abdu. He translated our conversations with nomads who told us about Berber traditions, education, and lifestyles. We learned about the sacrificing of goats for Ramadan. Welearned about gender roles. Thank you Abdu.

Trekking was an amazing experience - not to mention our six hour solos in the hail storm, its just not a big deal.

im excited for what our homestays will bring!

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Morocco, Summer 2009

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Back from the trek

Erica Stemple,Morocco, Summer 2009

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As we sit on a terrace at the Casbah de Itrane hoteloverlooking the actual Casbah, we sip on tea and I think about our recently completed trek. The night before our trek we went around our ceremonial circle and expressed to each other our fears, support, and goals. Looking back I think we were true […]

Posted On

07/22/09

Author

Erica Stemple

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Insights into Moroccan culture are unavoidable. I have had so many insights during the past three weeks that I hardly notice them anymore. For example, I would no longer ever imagine walking across carpet in shoes, leaving the bathroom door open, keeping the teapot in the same place in midair when pouring, or adding less than the equivalent of three sugar cubes to each shot-glass of the aforementioned beverage - or, indeed, serving it in anything other than a shot-glass. (What in the world is a teacup?) These things are simply not done. Insights come so frequently that my mind cannot recognize them as insights; simply as sights.

Nevertheless, our trek through the High Atlas - eight days of sweeping mountains, dusty villages, hordes of Amazigh children, an accumulation of hard-earned dirt - brought insights of the sort that the medina or the Ville Nouvelle could not. Something about being under open sky and burning sun and sweltering heat alternating with the chilly breezes of desert night revealed a side of this ancient country that sits perfectly balanced with the bustle of the medina and the fluid mélange of Arabic and Tamazight that is heard at every corner of small towns. Sometimes this faded into the background as we trudged along the endless road or struggled with the rocky earth while staking tents, or ate yet another meal of saltless carrot tajine, but I think it was always there, sitting just behind the next rock or scrubby bush or gaggle of enthusiastically harassing Amazigh children.


It was at the heart of the High Atlas - in the middle of the middle of nowhere, practically speaking, with no village nearer than six hours' hike, surrounded completely by arid grass, canyons and rock formations - that we found ourselves, every afternoon, having atay. While pouring, one slowly raises the teapot (in order to produce the greatest number and volume of kushkusha, bubbles) until the glass is full, then tweak up in a snapping motion to cut off the flow at the optimal moment. Tea not poured in this fashion is not wholly Moroccan. We have all been practicing, and I am happy to say that my technique, at least, is improving.

It took me two days to realize that we were miles from anywhere, carrying our packs and with all our other possessions on the backs of heavy-laden mules, and pouring tea from a silver teapot to sip out of shot-glasses. It did not seem strange in the least. The tea was presented to us every afternoon - sometimes at multiple occasions - by our beloved guides, with sixteen glasses arranged on a silver tray accompanied by the filigreed silver teapot. No matter where we made camp - at a green oasis deep in the mountains, by the side of a cluster of Berber houses, in a swathe of grass straddled by rockfaces - the tea always came, steaming hot and, with proper pouring methodology, bubbling as well. It accompanied every meal, with the option of coffee as well at breakfast, served out of its own silver decanter. It was not questioned. Atay, affak was the obvious conclusion to every repas, and the teapot and shot-glasses, along with the other dishes, were taken to the stream after every meal to be washed with the inevitable Tide and rinsed in a plastic basin.

It was after I was doing dishes one afternoon that the question presented itself to me: why was I rinsing glass teacups in a stream in the middle of nowhere, where we lived in tents and didn't use utensils or individual plates, to save dishwashing time; where we had not showered in a week and wore the same clothes every day? Where we hiked six hours to find the next water source, and here I was kneeling by the side of a trickling stream dipping individual shot-glasses into soapy water and then into the same blue plastic basin that we used for scrubbing our laundry. A cup had broken yesterday when someone tried to climb over the rocky sand dune to reach the stream, and it occurred to me in a wave of frustration: Why glass? Why a heavy, bulky, idiotic silver teapot, on a camping trip to the High Atlas mountains? Why a matching tray, of all things? Why glass? Whyyyy?

And then (after some irritated scrubbing of yet another individual glass) I realized: it wouldn't be Moroccan without tea. It wouldn't be normal without glasses and a tray to put them on and a silver teapot with tea leaves and ornamental engraving. It is impossible to drink tea in anything other than a shot-glass, and uncouth to place them anywhere other than a silver tray. It is uncivilized, and not only that, un-Moroccan to prepare tea in anything other than a silver teapot. It is simply not done.

If any of these elements had been missing, it would have been leaving not only civilization, but Morocco. We did not bring our tea set into the wilderness, but it accompanied us, as an obvious packing item. Moroccans love their tea and their tea trays and silver teapots, and so do we. To lack them would have been unnerving. Wherever you go in Morocco there is tea, even in the middle of the High Atlas. Tea is universal.

And so, I settled down to scrub another individual shot-glass clean. Even in a canyon miles from any village or even nomads, a meal without supersweet atay in its teapot and tea tray and shot-glasses would simply be too strange.

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Morocco, Summer 2009

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Eternal Atay

Lucy Fleming,Morocco, Summer 2009

Description

Insights into Moroccan culture are unavoidable. I have had so many insights during the past three weeks that I hardly notice them anymore. For example, I would no longer ever imagine walking across carpet in shoes, leaving the bathroom door open, keeping the teapot in the same place in midair when pouring, or adding less […]

Posted On

07/22/09

Author

Lucy Fleming

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i definitely have an american superiority complex. my far-left upbringing tells me that we are all citizens of the world;but no matter how leftist i appear on the outside, the beer-swilling, gun-toting, flag-waving imperialist inside always manages to make an appearance.

we just finished our trek. i am still a wasp. i still can't help but prickle with frustration when someone doesn't speak english. i still contort with shock and distain when i find out that someone is illiterate. yep, the american inside me is alive, and would really appreciate a damn cheeseburger.

however, there is one intangible thing that i've gained from this trek. respect. the people that wake up at sunrise to beat unruly goats into submission, those are the people that i admire. our herding experience started at nine, and we spent about eight hours dragging fred and george through the first village. and the people that have known how to herd goats since birth? yeah, they were definitely laughing.

here we are, americans, waltzing through their turf with our 98 percent literacy rate and our north face hiking gear, and we literally can't even move a goat. in fact they were probably thinking the same things about me as i was thinking about them. what hopeless idiots; americans are supposedly such "rugged individualists" and these tools stop every five feet to whine about how tired they are from walking for half an hour.

i had them pegged, and then it hit me. it's all relative. while we attended our fancy private schools and paid obscene amounts of money for sat tutors, these people worked the earth until their hands grew sore. while we moaned about chicken two nights in a row, these people sat and ate the same vegetable tajine night after night, year after year. i began to feel bad. still, i was feelingeducated. nothing can replace a degree, right? these people had no right to laugh at me; i could blow thier minds with my vocabulary and intensive knowledge about post-civil war america. i began to climb back onto my soapbox, when i felt someting tugging at my shirt.

a smiling little boy with a missing tooth stared up at me. he quickly yanked george, the fiestier goat, away from me and proceeded to make a hissing sound. george immediately began to trot in a straight line, and then he stopped. the little boy giggled in an inviting manner, as if to say that he too stuggled with disobedient fauna. it was then that i finally figured out that a harvard medical degree could never take the place of geniune concern for strangers.

the people that i met while trekking weren't always educated, they did not always know english. but they lived without ipods and kitchen tables and even toilets, and they still managed to bemore welcoming than any american i have ever met. these are the berber people. i can officially say that i got love for my amazight homies. and yeah, i am kind of a global citizen now, but its not a big deal. spending time in the high atlas mountains can really put ones life into perspective. you know, if you're familiar with the area.

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Morocco, Summer 2009

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i'm kind of a global citizen now; it's just not a big deal

emily james,Morocco, Summer 2009

Description

i definitely have an american superiority complex. my far-left upbringing tells me that we are all citizens of the world;but no matter how leftist i appear on the outside, the beer-swilling, gun-toting, flag-waving imperialist inside always manages to make an appearance. we just finished our trek. i am still a wasp. i still can’t help […]

Posted On

07/22/09

Author

emily james

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Who would've thought that by age 16, i would have completed a trek on the highest chains of mountains in Northern Africa. After trekking on the High Atlas Mountains for 9 days, there are many new aspects of Morocco that I understand more deeply now. Trekking not only involved walking endlessly for hours even in the hot sun, rainstorms, setting up tents, drinking chlorine/iodine treated water, herding goats, and digging holes when we needed a toilet, but also required passing through remote Berber villages and interactions with the people of those villages. No matter what state the village was in initially (whether no one was outside, or everyone was outside), in the end; people always surfaced maintaining their usual work-filled day.

The women would appear in their vibrantly colored, loosefitting clothing, along with their mules or on the field/ outside their homes doing work.In most cases, thewomen were in groups, laughing and enjoying themselves depsite their work. Each time they passed, they all made sure we were all greeted and knew how we were doing after exchanging"labas?" "labas, L'hamdullah" more than once. There really was something in each women's eyes as we passed, I could really feel a genuine happinessno matter what. This was the same for men, althoughI feel the women were more friendly just beause of theirnature, especially beause the men wereusually doing more distracting work as we passed.

Throughout our entiretrek,fromwhere we started inImilchil, we were introduced to several men that guided uson the entire trek,honestly; without them we wouldn't have made it as far as we did, since theycame to our rescue during timeswhen many group members were sick by bringing us water and bread. By their example, I came to the conclusions thatI did about theMoroccan people in the area we were in: simplicity in life leads to a more fufilled and happy life. Every morning we got up, they were up, packing up the mules to get ready to start another day, each afternoon, they would pull out the drums that one of them made by hand and would sit, or dance while beating on the drums and singing all the while living in complete and utter satisfaction, and happiness. Each man was a close friendto one another, and most were related to each other also.

To be living in a place where priorities are much different, where herdingtheir animals were equivalent to an average man going to work everyday, where music was made by hands and voices, instead of switching an ipod on, or plugging a stereo into an outlet, and where instead of making a phone call, you could walk to a friend's house or already be with that friend; your perceptions undoubtedly change.

Living in the same area and with your familly your whole life and having each member of that family learn necessary skills to survive, I feel has really knitted the people of the villages together. Taking a step back, andlooking atour lives in comparison to the lives of many Moroccans, it makes you really think about the fact that our material things are just materials, and that the idea of closer friend and family bonds, and a simpler life can lead to genuine happiness, it is obvious Moroccans have it figured out.

Maybe we're the ones that need to re-evaluate the way we live.

So far, sitting in an internet cafe in QelaM'gona after finishing a trek; i'm loving Morocco.

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Morocco, Summer 2009

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Different Perspectives

Melissa Nop,Morocco, Summer 2009

Description

Who would’ve thought that by age 16, i would have completed a trek on the highest chains of mountains in Northern Africa. After trekking on the High Atlas Mountains for 9 days, there are many new aspects of Morocco that I understand more deeply now. Trekking not only involved walking endlessly for hours even in […]

Posted On

07/22/09

Author

Melissa Nop

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    [post_content] => One of my many insights into Moroccan culture during the trek was very simple: Moroccans, unlike Americans, are excited to see foreigners. No matter where we went, we were constantly followed by curious kids and greeted by smiling adults. Moroccans are interested in who you are, where you've been, and where you're going. Unfortunately, it's pretty tough to communicate with kids whose English consists of ''Bush'' and ''Obama'' (I managed to convice one particularly persistent boy that my name was Obama as well). Also, the kids were used to tourists giving them money. There were frequent pleas for bon-bons and dirrhams until the people who speak French would ask them for dirrhams. This warranted a quick ''merci'' and usually ended in the kids running away. Despite these annoyances, it was amazing to see kids popping out windows to wish us a good journey. It was fun to blabber in English at little boys on pink bikes blabbering to you in a language that you can hardly pronounce the name of, much less spell. How many times has that happened to you in America?
    [post_title] => Deep Thoughts: So Deep They Squeak
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Morocco, Summer 2009

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Deep Thoughts: So Deep They Squeak

Erin Thomas,Morocco, Summer 2009

Description

One of my many insights into Moroccan culture during the trek was very simple: Moroccans, unlike Americans, are excited to see foreigners. No matter where we went, we were constantly followed by curious kids and greeted by smiling adults. Moroccans are interested in who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. Unfortunately, it’s […]

Posted On

07/22/09

Author

Erin Thomas

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I have gathered from my encounters thus far with berbers thatwarmth and generosity is part of their culture. They treat strangers very differently than inAmerica. On the street,even peoplewho don't know eachother greet one another cordially. During the trek, our group was offered water more than oncewhile passing through berber villages. We were also offered assistance when we were strugling with herding our two goats, Fred and George. I think that the warm nature berbers have towards strangers is influenced by the trust of others that builds in small communities. In the states, especially in large cities, there is a lot more warriness and mistrust of strangers, which creates a much colderatmosphere outsideof individual communities. I was struck by how these villagers reached out to me more than strangers in America almost ever would, even if we spoke the same language.

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Morocco, Summer 2009

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A Different Kind of Stranger

Georgia Eager,Morocco, Summer 2009

Description

I have gathered from my encounters thus far with berbers thatwarmth and generosity is part of their culture. They treat strangers very differently than inAmerica. On the street,even peoplewho don’t know eachother greet one another cordially. During the trek, our group was offered water more than oncewhile passing through berber villages. We were also offered […]

Posted On

07/22/09

Author

Georgia Eager

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