Morocco was a series of unforgettable experiences. From camel trekking to climbing the Atlas Mountains to stargazing in the desert, all with amazing people I am happy to call friends. Last Spring Break, a group of us had the pleasure to experience a new culture and region of the world in Morocco- it was simply amazing!
Our trek started in Marrakech, where we enjoyed the local metropolitan culture highlighted by the Jemaa el-Fnaa Square. Jemaa el-Fnaa is the most popular square in Morocco with a great mixture of all things Moroccan. There are snake charmers, monkeys, henna tattooists, food stalls with delicious food, hundreds of people, live music, and the entrance to the souk with its countless traditional shops. Before departing from Marrakesh, we saw it from the sky with a one-hour hot air balloon ride over the outskirts of Marrakesh and the surrounding mountains.
Our next step was the seaside surf at Essaouira. Essaouira is one of the most popular fishing villages in Morocco, it seemed like it was a scene out of a movie. In fact, there were scenes shot in the city for Game of Thrones and the Gladiator! From there we started making our way to the desert, stopping at small oasis towns, including Aït Benhaddou. This incredible fortified city is located between Marrakesh and the Sahara Desert and is entirely made of earthen clay, making the city appear as if rising from the ground. Seeing the Sahara desert was eye-popping, just miles and miles of barren land. We stayed in tents, taking part in native music, camel riding, and sand boarding. This was truly a life-changing experience, as we found ourselves at peace in the middle of the desert, riding a camel while the sun set and the warm air, mixed with sand, gently brushed against our skin. That night was the highlight of our entire trip- we sat around a dimming campfire, told stories, and stared at the impressive stars, trying to identify the different constellations.
The food was excellent. Eating Moroccan cuisine was an eye-opening experience for many of us. The food’s explosive flavor was a unique combination of local spices and traditional cooking methods. Tagines, for example, change the way food tastes thanks to the way the earthenware clay reacts to the fire. All and all, I would not have changed this experience for anything. I witnessed amazing sights and most importantly, met some amazing classmates I am glad to call friends.
Ashray Reddy is an Evening MBA Student and will be working at Nestle USA post-graduation. He is also a co-founder of Chicago based non-profit MeaningFull Meals.