Memories from Morocco: A Photo Essay

Written by Sydney Arens, Morocco 2017

SPANners Tori Grev and Georgia Gates laughing over some fresh squeezed orange juice in Meknes.  Anywhere you go in Morocco, you can find stands that sell orange juice where they squeeze the oranges right in front of you.

SPANner Vicky (Weiquing) Huang looks at a white stork’s nest in the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis.  This structure was part of the interior of the Basilica and dates back to the 3rd century B.C.

Moroccan tea is a part of all Moroccans’ lives.  When entering someone’s home it is custom to be offered mint tea.  If you watch while they prepare the tea, you will realize that there is probably more sugar than water.  One day I was offered ten glasses of mint tea.  Needless to say, I did not fall asleep very quickly that night.  They also pour it from about their heads to help aerate the tea (and probable because it looks cool, too.)

This is a photo of my host mother cracking open argan nuts.  Argan oil is an important resource to many Moroccan women because it provides them with a source of income outside of their husband’s income.  The process to produce the oil is a long and physically challenging process.  Fruits must first be collected, then laid out to dry.  The fleshy dried fruit is peeled away from the hard nuts before they can be cracked open with rocks.  The seeds from inside these nuts are then ground up to extract the oil.  I enjoyed getting to help with some of the process when she needed help, even though I was awful at cracking the nuts.

For my research in Morocco, I was studying the exploitation of argan trees.  One thing I didn’t expect to find in the semi-arid desert region was the presence of these brown snails covering many branches of the tress.

This man lived in Chefchaouen (the Blue City where blue walls stretch along miles of curving blue paths) and crocheted and knit hats and other items for a living.  I bought a funky red and green hat from him.  I’m not sure that many people needed warm wool hats, especially because it was above 90 degrees this week, but it works well now that I’m back in Minnesota. 

On our last night in Chefchaouen, I got to hike up the mountainside to watch the sunset over the city.  It was easy to get lost inside the city where blue walls stretch along miles of curving blue paths.  Getting to see the city from hillside made for a beautiful evening.

One of my favorite adventures in Morocco was climbing Mount Toubkal with some fellow SPANners.  Although I got extreme altitude sickness on the second day, the views were amazing climbing the whole 13,671 ft.  I especially liked seeing the small huts and villagers that lived in the mountains along the steep trails.  Most people used pack mules to carry their supplies, so we felt especially accomplished knowing we were able to summit without assistance.