Sophomore Del Jacobs, one of several Parkland students immersing themselves in Arabic culture during a three-week trip to Morocco this month, shares her Week Two adventures below. This opportunity came about due to a three-year federal grant Parkland has obtained to boost foreign-language study. In year one of the grant (AY 2015), students taking Portuguese classes were able to study abroad in Brazil last summer.
Today, we traveled to Chefchaouen, also known as the blue city of Morocco. It’s located about 80 miles southeast of Tangier. The blue paint has a mosquito repellent in it. We walked from the top of the hill to the bottom. This is definitely a shopper’s haven. We spent the day shopping and stopped at Darkoum for lunch.
Moroccan food is really good; so far everything I have tried here is excellent. The picture shows tajin, which is both the name of the vessel and the dish. Tajin can be made with beef, lamb, chicken, or fish. There are two kinds here, chicken and fish. The sides are a green salad, radishes, olives and bread. There is also a dish of pears and bananas.
The bread is used as the utensil. You break a bite size piece off and scoop the food on to the bread and pop it into your mouth. Moroccans eat a lot of bread. We have been given at least 10 kinds so far, it’s eaten at every meal. I have had so much bread that I can’t eat anymore. I’ve asked to use a spoon instead.
The most popular drink is tea. It’s made in a pot that holds 5 to 6 small glasses. They add 8 tablespoons of sugar to the pot and a handful of mint. Our host mother told us that she goes light on the sugar and only adds 7 tablespoons. Their tablespoon is bigger than ours, so you can imagine how sweet it is. It’s so sweet that my ankles were swollen. I’ve had to ask that my tea be made without sugar, just the mint.
Today, we took a drive west of Tangier. We took a short camel ride, which was okay with me because the fun part is getting up and down. One day, I will return to Morocco and do a camel safari in the Sahara.
Next, we stopped at the cave of Hercules. It’s the most famous site in Tangier. The cave walls were carved out into small wheels that were used to grind grain.
Our last stop was a beautiful seaside town called Asilah. It would be the perfect place to retire. It’s quiet, and all the buildings are white with blue doors. As you walk around town, at almost every turn there is a mural. Many artists and musicians live in the town, and they hold art and music festivals every year.
We had a lovely fish lunch before driving back to Tangier. It was a very nice day!
Saturday we drove from Tangier to Marrakech, an 8-hour drive. The scenery was rural and we saw many subsistence farms which had various types of vegetables. The farmers were plowing the small fields with a single blade plow, pulled by either a donkey or a team of cows.
We broke the drive by stopping in Rabat to see the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. The mausoleum was commissioned by his son Hassan II and designed by Vietnamese architect Vo Toan who used Carrara marble. The candelabra is made of pierced and engraved copper. This was a beautiful stop; the entrance was guarded by two guards in ceremonial dress, on horseback.
We stopped in Bouznika for lunch. The road leading to town was loaded with restaurants. We ate at Restaurant Dayga and had several types of roast meat including lamb. All of us loved the food and we finished everything which must have been 16 pounds of meat. Lunch cost $160 for the 16 of us, including beverages.
***For the upcoming academic year (2016-2017), Parkland’s foreign-language grant program focuses on learning Chinese, with an opportunity to visit the country of Taiwan in summer 2017. Study abroad scholarships will be offered for this country, too, for degree-seeking students finishing the language course. For more information, give me a call!
Associate Professor, Communication
Study Abroad Coordinator