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© Lucila Muntaner Photography

  • lumunta

Couchsurfing in Morocco

It’s our first time in the African continent. When we planned our trip Africa wasn’t in our plans. Our idea was to spend two months traveling around western Europe, but one day, while we were reading a blog, we asked our selves, what if we go to Morocco? And so we bought our tickets.

We arrived at Marrakesh airport at night, our flight was delayed and to that was added an endless line to make migrations. Our couchsurfing host, whom we didn’t had had the chance to talk with yet to let him know about our delayed was waiting for us at the arrival gate worried but with a big smile. He had been waiting us for two hours.

Meeting Hamza was like seeing an old friend. He explained us what to do next: Go through the parking lot without paying attention to all the transfer offers, wait for him next to the main road where he will meet us to stop a taxi and explain the driver where he should take us. He would follow us in his motorcycle. We jump in to the taxi. Hamza spoke with the taxi driver in Arabic and we left. Everything had happened quickly, and suddenly we were in Morocco in a taxi without really knowing where we were going.

When we get to the place the taxi driver make us signs to get out of the car. The neighborhood was dark and quiet. It didn’t seem to be leaving us at the door of any house, and there were no signs of Hamza either, so I decide to ask the taxi driver in french what had Hamza told him. He explained me that he will meet us there and that we didn't have to be worried as we where in a safe place.

Every time I travel to a new place I tried to adapt me to the culture, accept their dress code to go as unnoticed as possible. But when you have just arrived and you are carrying the backpack, it is simply impossible to blend in with the environment. After some minutes waiting on that corner we saw Hamza’s bike coming. We walked together to his house. When we get there we climb a long and narrow staircase, and as in every Moroccan house, we take off our shoes before entering. We enter to the room where we would sleep to leave our backpacks, it was a room covered with carpets with two L shaped armchairs - our bed - and a wide window from which hung large patterned and colorful velvet curtains.

Doing couchsurfing in Africa is not like any of our previous experiences. Hamza lives with his parents with whom we share four days. We share dinner, we ate tajine (a Moroccan typical food) with our hands, we communicate through signs and smiles, we watch arabic television, we cooked empanadas for them, we heard them praying, we tell them about our culture and we asked about theirs.

Our neighborhood it’s outside the medina. During the day we walk around, we go with Hamza to do the shopping awakening the curiosity of the locals that want to know everything about us: where we are from, what we are doing there, and for how long we are staying. The reception and hospitality that we feel in Morocco does not compare with that felt anywhere else

At the same time, the culture shock is one of the biggest that I have ever experienced. Everything is new. The mosque, its people, the smell of the spices that intermingle in the air while walking on the street, its infinite variety of olives, the call to the mosque at the time of prayer, the cats, the shops with all kinds of crafts hanging, the tanneries, his clothes, the mint tea, the tajine.

Traveling is to clear up prejudices, demystify beliefs, immerse oneself in a culture that is alien to us, learn and respect diversity. It is to identify our similarities despite our differences. It is, without a doubt, to grow.