As I boarded the ship that was to take me across the Mediterranean Sea to the northern shores of Morocco, I felt an array of mixed emotions. Mainly, I was excited. After all, I was only 13 and about to become "tricontinental." The previous five days I had spent in sunny Spain, and now I was to travel to Africa for one day. Besides excited, I also felt deeply intrigued and mystified. Moroccans practice the Muslim religion, and Arabic is one of their main languages. This may seem a bit prejudiced, but as I took my seat in the boat, the song "Arabian Nights" was playing over and over in my mind. However, I was dressed very conservatively so as not to offend anybody.
The boat ride took only about 45 minutes. After we had docked and debarked the ship, we were led straight to a bus. My first glimpse of Africa wasn't too exciting, since it was just pretty much like Andalucia, the southern region of Spain. It was a little warmer here, though, being so close to the equator.
We rode for a while and then stopped to have our passports checked in a city owned by Spain. This is when I had my first "real" glimpse of Morocco.
There was trash strewn all over alongside the old, cracked pavement of the road. Natives attending to their business stopped for a moment to stare at the tour bus that held so many foreigners. Of course, they could scarcely see us because of the tinted ...
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...ed fezzes, which he sold for 2000 pesetas, or about 10 dollars.
I said, "No, thank you."
The man replied, "Oh, you buy from in store but don't buy from the street, eh?"
I honestly didn't know what to say, so I just said, "I'm sorry."
His reply was, "I bet."
I just kept on walking, feeling very guilty. But as it turned out, he gave my mom a 1000 peseta discount, so she bought three of the hats.
As I boarded the bus, I felt relieved to be leaving Morocco behind me. But then I looked back at all the people, some of them children, and thought how difficult it must be to have to go through hardships every single day, hardships worse than anything we modern Americans have ever endured. I was leaving Morocco, but these people had no way out.
Even today, the sights and sounds of its cities still haunt me. I suppose those memories always will.
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