I’m worth how many camels?

Hi everyone!

I apologize for being so sporadic with my blog posts! My time in Sevilla is quickly coming to an end (5 days left in fact…) and we have been taking every chance to soak up as much of the city as possible before we head back to the States. This weekend was full of gelato, soaking up the sun by the river, enjoying tapas and Sevilla’s famous “Cruzcampo” and some tinto de verano, but most importantly spending time with some pretty awesome friends. It is going to be so hard to say goodbye to my fellow friends/classmates in just a few short days!

 Photo: Enjoying the last weekend in Sevilla with Courtney Jo and Elizabeth Carroll :) Going to miss them!!

At the beginning of the month we had the opportunity to travel to Morocco, Africa with all of the students from our program. It was by far one of my favorite trips, and definitely involved a bit of “culture shock” in comparison to the other countries and cities that I have visited during my time in Spain.

 

Friday April 5 – We left Sevilla by bus around nine in the morning and drove two hours to the coast of Spain to a city called Tarifa. From Tarifa, we took an hour ferry ride across the Strait of Gibraltar to arrive in Tanger, a port city on the coast of Morocco. The ferry ride was quite an experience as it was my first time being on a boat for that “long” and the weather was not the greatest, creating a very rocky and difficult hour on the boat. Thankfully some friends and I found the observation deck so that we could get some fresh air outside and enjoy some of the beautiful views from the ferry. After our arrival in Tanger, we boarded a bus that took us to the center of the city where we began a short walking tour. It was so interesting to see so many of the women in the traditional head covering. As a tall, blond American, I was very out of place! At times it was a little uncomfortable, but it most definitely made me appreciate my country and the freedoms that I have as a woman. We did find out that Courtney was valued at 600 camels… at first we were disturbed, but it sure did make us laugh later! We ate a delicious lunch at a local restaurant that also featured live music and a belly dancer. The food was delicious (couscous and mint tea were my favorites!) and we laughed as the belly dancer forced Courtney out of her seat to dance with her for a few moments. Morocco is known for their spices and local remedies and we had the opportunity to learn about and purchase some of the most popular items after lunch. I am excited to share some of the delicious tea that we enjoyed while I was there with family and friends when I get home! 🙂  Once we arrived at the hotel on Friday, we were in for the night. We ate dinner together as a group and enjoyed spending time with each other in the hotel.

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Saturday April 6 – The next morning we woke up and boarded a bus to travel to the beautiful city of Chefchaouen in the mountains of Morocco. This was by far my favorite part of our Morocco trip. According to our local tour guide, the majority of the city is painted blue to “keep out evil spirits and the bugs.” He had to be at least eighty years old and so soft spoken we could barely hear him (see picture below!). We enjoyed walking around the city and taking an excessive amount of “blue door” pictures, as well as learning how to barter with the locals to buy some beautiful scarves, blankets and jewelry. We boarded the bus to drive the two hours back to Tanger to our hotel for the evening. On our bus ride home, one of the guys from our group put on “Waka Waka” and we all laughed, sang and danced to the song as we drove through the countryside of Morocco. Saturday night was by far one of my favorite nights of the trip. We all ended up in one of the hotel rooms with a deck of cards and played the game “mafia.” It was really neat to connect with each other on a different level and spend time together as a group.

 

Sunday April 7 – Sunday morning we boarded the bus for a “panoramic” view of the city of Tanger and a drive to the coast to see the beautiful beaches. One of the stops along the way to the city of Asilah was an opportunity to ride a camel! We all had such a great time running around snapping pictures of each other on and next to all of the camels. Mustafa (pictured below) was by far the best camel out of all of them, and quickly became the favorite for both Courtney and me. We laughed so hard taking pictures with Mustafa as he “smiled” with us. Afterwards we drove the rest of the way to the beautiful coastal city of Asilah where we enjoyed some of the local cuisine for lunch and did some shopping and exploring. After a few hours in the city we boarded the bus to get back to Tanger and boarded the ferry to return to Spain. We arrived back in Spain as the sun was setting over the water, providing a beautiful background for some last minute pictures. It was by far one of the best weekends I have had during my time abroad!

 

^^^ This is Mustafa!

Hannah, Courtney, Liz and I – I am going to miss these girls an awful lot!

The week following Morocco was a full week of classes leading up to our Feria break. Courtney and I both got sick at the end of the week, making some of the beginning of our Feria travels very interesting. Make sure to check back for my next post about my time in Galicia with Marcela’s family (yes, round 2!). It may have been the highlight of my time abroad J I cannot wait to see everyone soon! Miss you all!

 Muchos cariños – Gretchen

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