On to Marrakesh.
Traveling from the desert, we headed toward Marrakesh. It would be the place where we would have our farewell dinner with Gutsy Women Travel and where we would close out our journey before flying out of Casablanca. Climbing aboard the bus, we passed film sets just outside of Ourrzazate before stopping in a nearby village.
For me, the highlight here was meeting with the local women’s association. With their mission of helping local women find independence within an archaic system, these women showed an incredible amount of bravery as they stood up to their elders and husbands and encouraged women of all ages to think to the future. Using Noury as our translator, we were able to ask them questions and they were able to explain to us some of the challenges they faced in their society.
One of the questions that resonated with me the most was when women in our culture felt as though their freedom was taken away. For many of the girls growing up in their village, any sort of liberties that they would have had would be taken away the moment they were married. We explained to them that even though we might choose to marry, we still had the choice to be independent, to have our own careers and to develop lives outside of our relationships.
Performing a henna ceremony, we formed friendships in a matter of a few hours. We were all decorated with beautiful, local designs and treated to us by dressing up Melissa as a Berber bride. It was difficult to leave these women behind as we continued on to Marrakesh—but knowing that they were working toward a better life for the women of the village filled me with hope for a better world.
Marrakesh was the most colorful place I have ever been to. Every street was like a living, breathing rainbow, and the spices here captured your senses and your imagination. After two long days in the desert, I quickly signed up for an appointment at the hamam, where I would be scrubbed with black soap made from olives and my skin would be exfoliated.
For me, one of the highlights was meeting Noury’s wife. Noury had become such a integral part of the success of the trip—he had been so open with us and passionate about his culture and Morocco. After hearing so much about her, it was an honor to get to see a woman so respected by her husband in a culture where that might not always be the case. It was an honor to know Noury and to get a glimpse into his history and his life.
Shopping in Marrakesh was a huge attraction, and we all went crazy buying gifts for loved ones or argan oil for our skin and hair. Most of these products available to us were discounted, and we were offered amazing deals since Noury knew the best places to go.
Departing to Casablanca, there was definitely a collective sadness in the air as we realized our trip was coming to an end. A few of us decided to have one last adventure and we headed to Rick’s Cafe for a cocktail. While the restaurant had been created long after Casablanca had been released, it was a fun tribute and a great way to end out Moroccan experience with a group of friends.
I will never forget the women I traveled with and how each of them were incredibly inspiring in their own ways. It was such a wonderful collection of well-educated, passionate women who wanted to explore a new place. They were afraid to journey to Morocco even when nay-sayers might have encouraged them not to. In each our own way, we were all gutsy women.
Thinking about traveling with Gutsy? Check out their website here. Their Morocco trip in September has already sold out, but make sure to look over the itinerary and keep posted on their Facebook page to know when the next trip might be available.