Love me?

October 5, 2015 by

A stark contrast from the wealth and abundance that we experienced at the farm, we transitioned to a place where children do not have parents in the Meknès orphanage.

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From left to right: Tofaq, myself, Zouir, Samid

It’s nicer than I expect. We walk into a courtyard with trees growing inside and benches placed under their shade. I look above and see the open hallway that leads to the dormitories, which we don’t get the chance to tour through because we are swept up into the mass of children looking for attention.

From the moment I walk in, younger boys ages 9-15 are leading me by the arm, by the hand. Their hands are warm, some hands are covered in cracker crumbs from the snack they just had, and others are clammy and squeeze me tightly. They shake both my hands in introduction and tell me their names with big excited eyes earnestly hoping that I will remember for more than the three seconds after I repeat it back to them and then forget in the chaos of learning twenty names all at once.

“To play?” “Tennis?” “Facebook?” “Photo?” Their words unattached to sentences and yet conveying so much: a need for attention, for love, wanting to do everything possible in the short time we have together. Most importantly, needing confirmation, in the form of my name written on a piece of
paper or a photo of us that they pantomime is intended for keeping in their pocket always with them. Confirmation that they can find me on Facebook. Confirmation that they mean something to me. Confirmation that our time, fleeting as it was, carries memories and the prospect of seeing one another again.

In an unexpected twist, the children at the orphanage made me feel more needed and loved than i have ever felt. A reality that was disorienting when I arrived expecting and hoping that I could give the gift of love to them. The constant touching, hand holding, hugs, even kisses on my cheeks communicated a deep love for me, likely one of the few women older than them, even if only by a little, that they have known in a loving context.

“I love you, I love you, I love you!” Tofaq holds my hands and face in an emotional goodbye that says, “this is so hard for me I will miss you so much.” But a tear-less goodbye that says, “this is not the first time I’ve had to do this.” This realization broke my heart and left pieces of it with those boys at the orphanage, who long for recognition, for attention, for love.

Sister

October 5, 2015 by
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The gate to the garden

It’s warm but not hot in the shade. The healthy grass beneath me tickles my toes and pokes its way between my heels and the cuffs of my jeans. There’s a familiar smell that I cannot place. It floats from the house and into the garden where we gather around two large tables pushed together and covered with white doilies and plastic sheets. Some girls sit together, practically on top of each other on the small, driftwood benches. A few of us stand behind others, gently braiding hair in a way that suggests that we care more about our sister’s comfort than the final product of the braid.

My fingers slide through healthy locks of dark hair and I can feel the eyes of the older adults as they observe our show of love through physical touch. We aren’t too loud, we aren’t dead silent. We are enjoying each other’s company. We have only been a family for a couple of weeks. Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t already be koombayah-ing and braiding hair. Under normal circumstances, I would feel silly showing this much physical affection.

I don’t think these are normal circumstances. A 12-hour plane trip. Hours napping together and chatting softly on the bus. Silly voices during dinner and secrets whispered in hotel lobbies. Concerns and cracking voices.

I think of us as sisters. I think 
this is not normal, but definitely okay. It’s beautiful, in fact, that we’ve decided to embrace each other so fully and so quickly. There’s a distinct lack of competition or rivalry and we find comfort in one another. This feels so different from what we’re taught to feel around other women. I’m not intimidated by their intellect, independence, ability, or courage.

What did I do to deserve the blessing of living with them?

This garden feels like Eden, the trees laden with fruits and the air saturated in love. I finish the braid and rest my hands on her shoulders until it’s time for Moroccan second-lunch.IMG_1092

The “Amen! Hallelujah!” Moments

October 5, 2015 by

One of my all-time favorite songs is You Can Call Me Al from Paul Simon’s Graceland album.  That entire album is a masterpiece, but You Can Call Me Al has always particularly captured me.  The irresistible driving beat of the bass and the bright hits of the trumpet always take me by the hand, pulling me to my feet, making it impossible for me not to dance.  That song is kind of my happy place.  But behind the upbeat tune, Simon’s lyrics voice deep insecurity.  He paints a portrait of a man living a life that, although comfortable and sheltered, is void of fulfillment.  In the first verse, he voices dissatisfaction, fear, and longing to live a life that counts:

“I need a photo opportunity

I want a shot at redemption

Don’t want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard”

I definitely have moments when I fear becoming nothing more than “a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.”  What if my million-dollar education is wasted?  What if I never make something meaningful of myself?  What am I supposed to be doing with my life???

But by the last verse, our unhappy protagonist seems to have lost his fears and found his meaning.  This verse in particular touches me and speaks to my experience in Spain and Morocco:

“A man walks down the street

It’s a street in a strange world

Maybe it’s the third world

Maybe it’s his first time around

He doesn’t speak the language

He holds no currency

He is a foreign man

He is surrounded by the sound, the sound

Cattle in the marketplace

Scatterlings and orphanages

He looks around, around

He sees angels in the architecture

Spinning in infinity

He says, ‘Amen!’ and ‘Hallelujah!’”

This song reminds me of the redemption of travel and my own memories of gazing in wonderment at the markets, the orphanage, the architecture, and finding my own moments of “Amen!” “Hallelujah!” gratitude.  This September was my “first time around” in a country some would consider “third world”.  I barely spoke the language and held little currency, but I immediately fell in love with Spain and Morocco and all the moments along the way that forced me to stretch and grow.  We can sometimes feel stuck in our little corner of the world, where self-centeredness and self-pity are easily found, but this journey yanked me out of my comfort zone and opened my eyes to a whole new world.  Although my senses were constantly bombarded with the unfamiliar, my heart somehow felt at home, and I was continually reminded that home is not always what is familiar and comfortable, but is sometimes just a common space of learning, love, and gratitude.

I found home in the sensory chaos of the Tangier market,

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in the peacefulness of the beach in Asilah,

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in the exquisite grandeur of the cathedrals,

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in the friendships formed in Meknes,

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in the grabbing hands and seeking hearts of our brothers and sisters at the orphanage,

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in the gracious hospitality and community at the family farm.

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I found home in these moments; these were the moments that made me say “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!”

Sensing An Unknown Freedom

October 5, 2015 by
            As I followed a Moroccan boy who I had just met through the foreign alleys of Meknes, I realized something big was happening.  We had met him just five minutes earlier when we were introduced by a friend. We shook hands and instantly I became softened by trust.  I didn’t realize I had felt this way until I was fearlessly following him into a taxi, through crowds, and down narrow alleyways of the medina (old town) as he helped us get to our final destination.  He spoke little English, and I barely any Darija, but something magical was there.  Something that defies the stereotypes of the “easy, dumb” American and the “oppressing” Eastern male. A friendship was built instantly, with mutual respect for the other.  Misconceptions and stereotypes were immediately crushed until all that was left was an effortless, fluid trust.
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           I have noticed this trust and respect with all the males I have truly met here in Morocco.  Not just met as passed them in the street, but the ones I actually had conversations with.  I have noticed it in the way the Moroccan women relate to those around them, such as the mothers we have met.  Many people (besides the occasional cat call- which is also prominent in the U.S.)  show great respect for us, making our group of girls feel welcome. This can be seen especially in the younger generation such as the college students who we hangout with and the kind people we talk to in the marketplace.   It seems as though globalization, and forms of social media have helped diminish a lot of stereotypes that people have of American women. Now I am not saying that people are not curious, because they are but it is mostly just a soft “hello” or “welcome”.
             Another instance in which this respect was shown to us happened a few days ago. We were in one of our new friend’s homes surrounded by his beautiful family and I found myself observing the gender relationships . As they were cooking the four of us lunch, we were immersed in conversation with our new friend. We were able to have conversations freely and he wanted to know what we thought about all kinds of topics. He respectfully listened as we opened our minds, sharing our dreams, passions and ideas.  He shared the same with us and the mutual respect/love for one another continued, regardless of the short time that we had known each other.  In America, it may take months to feel the level of comfort that we did in just a day or two with these kind people of the opposite gender here in Morocco.  There were no expectations like a lot most times back home, it was just an easy, blossoming friendship.
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              At the homes of our new friends, we meet the mothers, sisters, brothers and fathers. We meet beautiful women who are free to express their minds and be overwhelmingly, all at once, beautiful inside and out .  On this day, in their home, this was very apparent. As the boy’s mother came out to say hello, she was so welcoming.  In just a few minutes we could feel her happiness radiating, we heard the intelligent thoughts that roll off her tongue and we saw a freed woman.  A woman who seemed to be comfortable in her own skin. These women, these mothers, sisters and friends who we often think of as so oppressed by the males, seem to not be constrained by anything that they don’t allow.  Instead, they show kindness with a level of strength and confidence that I don’t see much in America.
           Previously to this trip and studying other cultures in this class, I would have never thought of American women, myself included, as “trapped”.  Now, I am not so sure.  These Moroccan women are allowed to be both beautiful and smart in a hybrid interwoven identity that most Americans cannot.  Women are seen as precious here, not objects made only to please the male ego.  They don’t have to make an impossible choice between beauty and intelligence, they are respected as women for their thoughts, and unlike Americans, they get wiser and more beautiful in the eyes of others as they age.  Before we all make assumptions, we need to experience.  Experience and conversations are the key to unlocking the misconceptions of the “other” and seeing the beautiful identities that lay underneath.  If love for women and respect became  how we judged others, then I say Moroccans are going for the gold.

Slurpies and Stereotypes

October 5, 2015 by

1“A boy threw a slurpie on me when I was in Texas.”

My mouth drops open in shock, “Why?!”

“Because I am from Morocco and I’m Muslim and he told me I was a bad person and he started talking about terrorism.”

“What did you say!”

“I told him I forgave him, and also the slurpie tasted delicious! But the hard part was, I was wearing a white t-shirt and I had to go to class so everyone asked me what happened and people found out what he did and why.”

My friend Souad tells me this story, a significant example of racism and discrimination that she experienced while attending Texas A&E for two years, just one instance that made her feel like she didn’t belong. Her tone of voice is very matter of fact. Her voice doesn’t carry hurt or anger, she just tells the story the way it happened. I wonder how many interactions like this she has had.

We are all familiar with the stereotypes held against Muslims and Islamic countries, especially those in the Middle East. These stereotypes are not only unfair, incomplete, narrow minded and unjust in their mere existence; but they are placed wrongly on the North African country of Morocco as well just because of the appearances of the people and their faith. I have never felt unsafe in Morocco, I have never seen or heard whisperings of terrorism; I have only been welcomed into homes with open arms and kisses on my cheeks, loved, served, cherished and celebrated solely because of my presence in a space.

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From Left to Right: Souad, myself, Molly

The first question I ask is, why? Why would someone do this? I know this girl fairly well after spending six days with her when she shares this story. She has given her time to show us around her city, she has given us the gift of henna- generously paying for ten of us to have our hands ornately decorated with the orange-brown henna mix done by a woman Souad hired herself, and she has invited us into her home on several different occasions. Now, we sit in my hotel room as she tells this story. She is about to take us to the hammam. She is giving her time, yet again, to help us experience Moroccan culture and helping us along the way. How could anyone throw a slurpie on this person?

“The first step toward reconciliation is sitting down, drinking coffee with someone and hearing their story because as soon as you listen to them and know them, you cannot objectify or judge them anymore.” I am struck by the applicability of this quote by my classmate, Hannah, in class. This is how we break down stereotypes.

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Saying Goodbye.

Because I have done this already with Souad, I can’t imagine how someone could judge her so harshly and be so cruel to her. I have to remind myself that they have not had the experience I have had. Like Hannah said, it is impossible to stereotype a person once you have taken the time to get to know them. The boy who threw the slurpie on her did not know her.

My biggest question moving forward is how do I help others, friends at home and family members understand what I have learned in my two weeks in Morocco? How do we break through these stereotypes to find the truth and bring understanding to others who haven’t made this crossing and found the understanding that we have?

Afaak, Don’t Disturb the Birds

October 4, 2015 by

“Shnoo?” I ask.

More words dart over my head. Syllables sounding like humming birds; quick, efficient, and beautiful.

“Shnoo?” I plead. I want to be involved in the conversation but I only know a handful of words and phrases in Darija (some of which are swear words so I don’t think they count). More words flit around my ears. They hover near my eardrums, threatening to be understood, but flying away before I can catch each individual phrase.

“SHNOO????” Danielle and I are all but freaking out at this point. We sit side by side in the taxi/across at the table in the cafe/walk parallel down the street.

“Shnoo? Shnoo? Why do you always ask ‘what’ when we are speaking Darija? We don’t yell ‘shnoo’ at you when you speak English to each other,” Yahya says. “I promise we are not talking anything bad, we are just talking Darija because it is easier for us to make plans and tell stories that way. We will translate after.”

My cheeks heat up as I take in his words. He was right. Even though we just wanted to be included in the conversation, we were acting like greedy children. Every time the birds came out, we would reach out our chubby little palms and try to snatch them out of the air to get a better look. It would be far easier to practice patience and wait for the birds to land before attempting to get close to them. Our new friends understood that we were curious and only wanted to feel included, but there is more to inclusion than just understanding someone’s mother tongue. We were so completely reliant on them for everything. They deserved a few moments to give their brains time to recover in Darija. Weren’t they already including us in everything they did? Weren’t they taking us into their homes and feeding us? Didn’t they help us scrub in the hamam, plan henna and tea parties, and take us on late night excursions to the tallest building in the city? Didn’t they guide us, joke with us, and protect us from getting hit by speeding taxis? It was a full-time job, babysitting us. The language barrier was frustrating, yes. It felt like there was a wall a couple meters high between us at all times, but it grew shorter every day as we learned more and more.

I thought about his words all night. The next time they spoke in Darija, I chose to observe
so I wouldn’t break up the birds with my “shnoo”s.

I Went To Africa- No No No Not Your Version of Africa

October 4, 2015 by

There’s this image of golden plains cracked with drought suffering under a burning ball of sun, the only shadows moving in the vast expanse of nothing are those of lions, zebras, and elephants.  This image of blatant wherewithal, empty for the purpose of allowing superiority complexes to be bolstered as they fill this empty.  This image repurposed and reprinted over and over again, repurposing half-truths and reprinting ignorance.  This image that is spoon-fed to those who lack the capacity to question its source and continue colonial impacts on a world trying to move forward.  It was only after traveling to Morocco, traveling to a small piece of Africa, that I was able to abandon this image.  Upon traveling to Morocco, I was given the opportunity to illustrate my own images of Morocco, captured in real time.  I was able to see, experience, taste, hear, smell, live its life, its people, its creatures.  And only then was I able to truly grasp the exquisite vibrancy of Morocco painting my illustrations in living, breathing, truthful colors and these colors have enraptured my soul, realligning the essence of my being giving me purpose and passion and a newly acquired love for cultures, traveling, and learning.

I have chosen three images that I love because they capture the colors of Morocco, the playfulness, the energy, the vivacity.  Morocco is colorful and the colors are generously everywhere, symbolizing a generous, kind, hospitable people.

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I like this image because all the colors are bouncing around, taking over my vision, and exploding my senses.  I like this image because there’s so much stuff, so many trinkets that there’s physical layers that make the viewer understand what it would feel like to touch this pile of stuff .  This pile is overwhelming, much like the overall experience of traveling to Morocco, much like the overall experience of traveling back to the states from Morocco, much like the experience of trying to process everything that happened while traveling in Morocco, much like the experience of being asked what my favorite part of the trip was and being at a loss for words because the trip was indescribably incredible and so much more than a fifteen minute camel ride.

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I like this image because the colors of the insides and the outside of the fig pop out at the viewer and are very vibrant, reflecting the life and culture of Morocco.  This image also symbolizes a few things to me.  It symbolizes the physical cracking open of culture we got to do while in Morocco.  The outside of the fig represents what we thought we were going to find in Morocco, but once we were in Morocco, making friends in Morocco, living in Morocco, we realized the outside barely alluded to the juicy, deliciousness of the inside.  This image also symbolizes two worlds that are often split due to varying religious, cultural, and political beliefs, but that still exist as two halves of the same whole, something that is typically forgotten but nonetheless true.

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I love this image because it captures the often hidden beauty, uncharted wonder, unseen delicateness the culture and people of Morocco have.  This image was taken inside of a riad, a riad which on the outside looked like any other building in the medina in Meknes.  But the inside was decorated, colorful, stunning and intricate, reflecting and symbolizing to me the undiscovered and ignored true beauty and care of Moroccan culture.

The colorfullness of Morocco, the whirlwind of brightly painted souvenirs spilling out into the middle of markets, the discovery of the intricate color-blocked pigments of the flesh of figs and their soft shell when cracked open, the concealed colors decorating the inner chambers of the outwardly modest riads, all were constant reminders of the colors of Morocco, the colors of Africa, the splash of life often forgotten, ignored, or rejected in the Western world simply because the Western image is devoid of color.  It renewed my soul with new life and painted my imagination with newfound curiousity and joy.  I went to Morocco expecting to paint my life, my knowledge, my perspective on the canvas of Morocco.  The reality of the trip, however, was Morocco painted it’s life, it’s knowledge, it’s perspective, it’s colors on the canvas of my soul, permanently reminding me of an unforgettable experience that has changed my life in the most subtlest, yet powerful way.

Breaking Bread

October 2, 2015 by

Laughter radiates through the open courtyard, warm like the afternoon sun.  We are basking in it, sprawled out on ornamented stools and plush cushions, circling a low table.  Hospitality holds us close, like the arms of family.  We sit in awe as this eternally gracious family prepares a meal for us.  Moroccan folded bread (meloui) is brought out, piled generously high.  Triangles of soft cheese, bowls of fresh honey and bitter olives, plates of butter, and cups of steamy mint tea are added to the spread.  I am overwhelmed, in all the best ways.  Overcome with emotion, I decide to snap a quick picture.

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Now, Looking back through my photos of the trip, this one stands out to me, beckoning me to remember a day filled with easy laughter, delicious and overflowing food, and good company.  This photo beckons me also to remember the true meaning of abundance; we have been undeniably blessed to experience a feast and a day which demands our remembering.  In fact, I remember as we sat and ate, I jokingly mentioned that they should use the meloui for communion bread.  Someone who was sitting beside me, turned, and as she tore off a piece of the folded bread, said, “This, what we’re doing right now, this IS communion.”

A Truth and a Lie: How Do I Approach Pictures?

October 1, 2015 by

Hannah and her Moroccan Secret Garden

Gangling sharp elbowed white cyclopes bumble and squawk about in confused hunchbacked herds with single bulbous metallic eyes that flash furiously in rapid blinks. “The poor ugly blokes – they can’t even see!” The camels sympathize. And that about sums up my experience in Marrakech.

What exactly gives rise to that deep-seated urge to snap a picture? How do we, as a collective group sharing a common culture and choosing to travel outside of our normative lens, decide on what images to freeze in time and take back home with us? The mass of white Cyclopes of American, German, Spanish decent certainly are of the opinion that the camera is simply an extension of their faces, congregating around stereotyped exotic splendors whose foreign appeal is ironically a product of expectation. The camera is a power and I am called as a traveler in an unfamiliar land to wield it with discernment. A photo is paradoxically a truth and a lie – a single angle that demands your attention to submit to a premeditated focalization that denies you the comfort of your peripheral judgment. You see what the photographer has allowed you to see and not a fraction of a second more.

I transgress and begin at the end of my trip. The Prado, one of the most famous museums in the world and home to the notorious el Greco, Goya, and Velasquez. The redefinition of the picture for me began with escorzo; the word is made corporeal in the quivering el Greco figures. Muscles like vapor, like shadows of water intermittently surfacing the canvas and distending outward from some holy atmosphere in contours that writhed and yielded to some divine cause. The guide broadened the term to the arresting bodies of Velasquez and Goya that claimed their own space, volume, depth – entities with physical weight and existence mixed with subtle elements that sought to deconstruct the realms of reality and fiction. The picture is a choice – a statement with incredible influence over the very paradigm of our own personal worlds. With the shift in a gaze, it can instigate revolutions of thought and cross boundaries without ever needing to take a single step.

I don’t claim much with my own photos, but there are a few conscious efforts that carry throughout. The first thing I grappled with is capturing other people. I resonate with the old Native American fear that developed in response to the white man’s shiny new camera devices. With the rise of portraiture, the Native Americans had fervently believed that pictures taken of an individual removed a piece of that subject’s soul. Walking down the narrow allies of Tangier I do not dare disrespect a privilege like that extended to a stranger who is permitted to traverse the private hallways and rooms inside someone else’s house. I squeezed past women pouring buckets of soapy water they had used to wash the family’s clothes in passing Darijan conversation, kids playing with what looked like spools of thread, leaping over napping cats and weaving between our group down the saturated Cerulean blue and white walled backstreets, barber shops situated on tight corners, pockets of Qur’anic schools, a hundred doorways with every turn and there, sitting in a doorway, an old woman watching me watch her in unabashed curiosity. How can I collect the faces that are intrinsically tied to the in and out weaving of the shared streets where motorcycles with bushels of mint zoom down cobblestone mazes and blankets of fruit and books and olives and silverware and recycled children’s playthings reach out with extended arms to the tidal humdrum of a bustling community? How can I begin to speak to you about the woman sitting in the doorway watching us wade through her front step space with eyes inspecting the parade of Americans following the guide in all their baggy elephant pants?

Fig on Moroccan Farm

I didn’t, to say the least, take many pictures of other people, opting to sketch them in my mind’s eye instead. Walking down those streets, I could not in a single snapshot tell you that the difference between the woman in the doorway and me only existed because there was first an undeniable sameness in the inquisitive dialogue our eyes engaged in if only for a moment. And it was for this reason that I had turned my head in her direction to see firsthand the novelty of this other image of God I had yet to see.  What pictures I do possess are either grounded in acute sensual response and transience or serve as an anomaly to cultural presumptions. It is too fleeting to be objectified and hones in on a specific texture, taste, smell, aesthetic that resists categorization and engages the imagination of the viewer who must ask to satiate the need to complete the picture that begs a question. Is it a piece of fruit and what did it taste like?  First, is it a camel? And second, how did you feel when you looked so closely into its eyes like that? What was its fur like and did it not spit at you? Is that a Star of David and a cross amid the distinctly Arabic geometric patterns?  Pictures become my starting points, small enough to amass an interest in the finite moments of time in order to point to the greater more profound experiences surrounding their context.

Yellow Wall of Mosque

Eye of the Camel Tile Mosque Morocco Pic

Nowhere else can these instances be uprooted and repositioned in a different story for they are so utterly mine in the subtle idiosyncrasies. Pictures can only carry so far, and where they are limited I must rely on the collection of stories that burn in their unapologetic humanity at the pit of my stomach.

“Take a Picture, It’ll Last Longer

September 30, 2015 by

A man coughs, a baby gurgles, our plane goes over another bump of turbulence. The flight attendant smiles as she hands me a chocolate ice cream to tide me over until we land. Next to me sits Alsea, the same person I sat next to on that hazy 8am flight out of Seattle nearly a month ago.

“We’ve come full circle.” I say as we dig into our ice cream. It feels like we were getting on the plane to leave just yesterday. And now we’re on our way home.

“Yeah, the whole thing feels like it could have been a dream.” Alsea says.

We get lost in our own thoughts again, the swirl of memories already blending together, but I refuse to let them fade away like a dream. Throughout our trip I posted to Instagram almost every other day what I thought were the best moments I had captured, and (most of the time) I tried to caption them with the best ideas that had been discovered as we travelled. These were the crucial moments of the trip, the moments I didn’t want to forget or let fade away. I hope you enjoy them.

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“Day 1: Toledo, Spain 🇪🇸⛪️⛪️⛪️🇪🇸”

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“Bienvenidos a la ciudad de joyas.”

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“Tour guide voice: “It was during this time that beauty and wealth started being displayed on the outside of buildings. Before that, palaces and castles had high, unadorned exterior walls so that the people outside could not even fathom the riches within. Now, we put the beauty on the outside for all to see.””

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“Hey everybody, look at me! #spainandmorocco2015”

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“Let’s moROCKan ROLL.” #spainandmorocco2015 #yesthatstheatlanticocean #yesiminafrica”

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“🐪🐪🐪 #spainandmorocco2015”

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“Morocco is currently winning the graffiti game. 🌈🎨”

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“New friends and old friends

Moroccan/Americans

What’s the difference?

#accidentalhaikus”

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“There’s just something about touring an old mosque the day after 9/11 and having our Muslim guide point out the various Christin crosses and star-of-Davids placed throughout the ceramic walls. “They symbolize a time when all three religions coexisted in Morocco.”

Kinda feels like a hope that a time of coexistence can happen again.”

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“Moroccan Hospitality (Noun):

When you spend a three hour lunch in your new friends’ house laughing and dancing and eating delicious couscous and as you leave their mother says

“You’re always welcome back here, you’re like my children now.”

Ft. Farah on the phone and us laughing about something Kharis did/said.”

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“Today we got to spend time with two Imams asking questions and coming together as two worlds colliding under one roof. It was sweet harmony.”

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“🇪🇸 I see you Madrid 🇪🇸”

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“Today we found the Madrid City Hall and it’s beautiful.”

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“Already missing Spain, Morocco, and these beautiful faces… I have loved every second of laughter, every sense of wonder, every slightly intimidating adventure, and every proudly miss-pronounced “lunch” and “shukran” with them. 💚❤️💛”