How to Go for a Run in Morocco
While I spend my summer in Meknes, Morocco, I was disappointed to find out that there were no readily accessible gyms for me. Not to be thwarted, I asked my host family and my program coordinator about my options. Turns out it is very possible and plausible to safely go for a run in Morocco–if you know what you’re doing!
First, you should obtain a casquette, which is the word used here to refer to a baseball hat. Most people here wear them while exercising, and they can be bought all over town, from street vendors or, if you want something a bit nicer, from stores in the mall. I paid 30 dirhams for mine, or just under $4 USD.
When choosing your running clothes, go for something light but modest. I wear loose workout pants and a long sleeve, cotton t-shirt, which does get quite warm but makes me feel much more comfortable than something more revealing. There are plenty of women who exercise in short sleeve t-shirts and pants. I just prefer to err on the safe side.
Then, you should find a place where people exercise regularly. Not that it is unsafe to run around the neighborhoods, but the sidewalks are rather undependable, and if you don’t know where you are going, you can easily get lost. I went for a jog in a busier part of the city and found that I had to stop to cross streets or to check my way more often than it was useful during a run.
So I asked my host family where I should go. My host father was kind enough to walk me to a park that is about 15 minutes walking distance from my house. It is built within the remains of an ancient palace, and contains a massive pond surrounded by a tiled walkway. There, at any time of the day, people can be found exercising – running, walking, stretching, etc. There is no one type of person who goes there, and every time I have gone, this park has been quite crowded.
When talking to my host family about sports and exercising, they greatly encouraged me and reassured me that it was a good habit and one in which plenty of people around Meknes engage. Going to the park and seeing all the people there most certainly fulfilled those statements. After talking to others, it seems that parks like this are not uncommon throughout the city.
Finally, I personally like to try and avoid the sun, especially due to my choice of wardrobe. In order to do so, I start my runs around 6:30 a.m., which is very early for this city. My neighborhood is quite empty at that hour, and even my host family is usually still asleep. However, the park is always bustling with people, and I am able to get in my exercise despite the fact that I am in an unfamiliar and somewhat daunting city like Meknes.