Part 1 in a 3 Part Series
In October of 2013, I took the plunge into what a friend calls ‘Africa for the beginner’. I went on the adventure of a lifetime to Morocco. Over the course of fourteen days, I experienced the most hospitable people I have ever encountered in my travels. Morocco has attracted people from many different countries around the Mediterranean for centuries, as well as having held on to its traditions of its native population, the Berbers. The country’s diverse history has unified people as Moroccan above all else and as a culture that is as much defined by Southern Europe as it is by Northern Africa.
The French, Arabs, Italians, Spanish, Greeks and Romans, have all had a hand in contributing to the culture of Morocco alongside the Berbers. Though somewhat nomadic, the Berber people have a long established mentality of living off the land, which has led to a modern day fresh food paradise. Coupled with the year round availability of mouth watering produce and meat, the culinary influences of France’s Protectorate period (1912-1956), the food of Morocco challenges that of a good Italian Nonna. We must not forget the establishment of olive groves by the Romans and their influence in the southern portion of their empire.
As has a diverse immigrant population contributed to the definition of Moroccan, the religion of Islam has too. Sensitivity toward cultural differences is essential when experiencing someone else’s reality. Though it is the most liberal Muslim population in the world, as with any population there are people who practice the religion at different levels. It’s necessary to show respect through modest dress and appropriate behavior when you travel in Morocco.
Take a chance. Step out of your box and experience the friendly smiles of Morocco. You will not be disappointed. I can’t stop thinking about my next visit.
Photos depict Muslim influence, Roman influence (ancient olive press for oil at Volublis), and French influence.