Globespinners, meet Michelle, a bonafide world traveler and our Globespinner of the week.
Michelle shared with Globespinning a few highlights of her most recent trip to sunny Morocco. Here’s what she had to say:
M: Two of my favorite people lead travel writing workshops around the world and Morocco is one of these destinations. I was drawn it it because of my love for art and patterns, and my curiosity about visiting a Muslim-majority country. I was also surprised and delighted to learn that Morocco has a deep Jewish history, so as a Jew, I wanted to connect with that too.
GS: Were there any unexpected experiences that surprised you?
M: I was surprised to run into my guilt around giving up my cat while trying, unsuccessfully, to befriend the cats off Moulay Idriss. The street cats wanted nothing to do with me, as they skittered over the cobblestones digging through the trash ahead of the garbage man and his misbehaving donkey (aka garbage truck).I fell in love with the Islamic geometric pattern work that adorns all of the fountains, aging wooden doors, mosques, and modest homes. I was shocked at how prevalent and ubiquitous the intricate tile work and carved plaster was. And the class I took on pattern making with Craft Draft was an incredible way to dip into that aspect of life in Morocco and see a true craftsman at work.I also was surprised on my train ride from Casablanca to Fez. I sat into first class ($17 for a 3+ hour ride), with 5 other people. Midway through the trip, one of the men dressed in a suit and wool coat started praying silently, while the other passengers, including a woman in a hijab, just ignored him. As suddenly as he started, he stopped and returned to sitting upright and silent through the rest of the train ride as if nothing had happened. It was the first time that I realized that Muslim prayer could be such a natural part of one’s day.As a not-so-serious writer, I was surprised by how welcomed and comfortable I felt on a travel writing workshop with seasoned and award-winning writers. Writing while in a foreign place allowed me to experience my surroundings more deeply and greatly added to the experience. It also left me with richer memories of my time in Morocco and a handful of new friends who I cherish. I learned so much from Tim Cahill, our humble instructor, and from the other writers. I highly recommend Deep Travel Workshops to aspiring and committed writers alike.Lastly, I was surprised by the contrast between the voices who perform the call to prayer. Some sounded musical and beautiful. Others like a dying cat. I tried not to laugh and cover my ears during some of the calls, especially the ones in the middle of the night broadcast across staticky speakers.
GS: What one tip would you give to others wanting to travel to Morocco?
M: Go! If you’re a woman traveling alone, you may be surprised at how safe you feel. Take normal precautions like in any unfamiliar place, but go. The people are exceedingly friendly and warm. They don’t cat-call or harass women like in other countries I’ve visited. And if you speak French, you’ll have no trouble conversing with folks as most speak both French and Darija (the Moroccan dialect of Arabic). You can also get by with a smile and gentle nod of your head.
GS: Have you chosen your next destination?
M: Of course! I’m headed to Banff for a 5-day hiking and camping vacation in the end of June. Then Italy for two weeks in the fall. And Vietnam in January 2017. I love to travel and will always have at least one trip abroad on my horizon.