Gutsy Women Travel: Morocco, Me and 14 Women
Before I had even begun packing for my trip to Morocco, I was receiving warnings about how it was a terrible idea.
“You’re going with fourteen women?” my friends and family exclaimed. “Are you asking for trouble?” They shook their heads and told me to take my pepper spray along with me, as though that would save me from an attack from ISIS—everyone’s main concern.
Even with their warnings, I wasn’t concerned. I have always had a nervous twitch in the pit of my stomach before I travel anywhere, but it was strangely absent as I packed my harem pants and the headscarf I would be wearing in the desert and throughout the Moroccan countryside.
It was such a strange sight for me to see donkeys wandering next to high rises or toting a cart while a red Ferrari passed them by.
I was traveling with Gutsy Women Travel, a company that promotes travel for all women—single, divorced, widowed, young, and old. I had thought about traveling to Morocco by myself before, but that twitch in my belly had always made itself known when I thought about it. Now, I was looking forward to the trip.
Flying into Casablanca, I was by far the youngest on the tour. Being around older, more experienced women could have been incredibly intimidating, especially since they were all well-educated professionals with a love of travel. However, I instantly felt as though I was a member of a community. It was amazing to me how quickly we bonded within a few hours, and I would soon see that bond increase over the two weeks I journeyed through the country with them.
Casablanca was a modern city, but it wasn’t long before we began to make our way out past the city limits. It was such a strange sight for me to see donkeys wandering next to high rises or toting a cart while a red Ferrari passed them by. Morocco seemed like a place that was constantly fighting with its past in order to develop a future—but it was unwilling to let go of its heritage and struggled violently to hold on.
The dichotomy between the old and new became even more apparent as we journeyed to Fes and found ourselves winding through the largest medina (or city in Arabic) in the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the medina was a constant reminder of a Medieval past trying to reconcile itself with modernity. Craftsman performing their daily duties were a common sight as we walked through the marketplace, supplying the city with djellaba (robes for women and men) and cooking dishes like their ancestors would have done for hundreds of years.
I was traveling with Gutsy Women Travel, a company that promotes travel for all women—single, divorced, widowed, young, and old.
Passing Fes, we headed deep into the Sahara Desert in Toyota 4x4s, bumping and giggling as we passed over the sand. After placing our bags in the tents we would be staying in for two nights, we were taken to the home of a nomad family—a woman not much older than I who was recently divorced from her husband. Out in the middle of the desert and with only the fellow nomads camped hundreds of yards away, she raised her son and dreamed he would be able to attend school the following year as an escape from this type of lifestyle.
Every woman with me could relate to her story. We had all been through a situation of abandonment as women: we had all felt alone as we struggled to fulfill our hopes and dreams. It didn’t matter how old or young we were, where we had grown up and what our careers were, we all understood that this nomad woman was a reflection of who we could have been.
The desert came with its own set of challenges. After deciding to climb the highest dune in the area, a few of us found ourselves caught in a sand storm that stung any exposed skin. With the sand biting our faces and hands, we were surprisingly undeterred. Climbing higher and higher, it seemed like we might never reach the top—but the constant cheers from the other women kept the group motivated enough to keep going. Reaching the top and being able to survey the expanse of the desert was all the more special with some fellow badass women there with me.
It didn’t matter how old or young we were, where we had grown up and what our careers were, we all understood that this nomad woman was a reflection of who we could have been.
Morocco had never struck me as the type of place where women could thrive, and I had been warned against being a woman and traveling there. But I found that Morocco is the perfect location for women travelers to explore and to test themselves. I know I would not have had the same experience if I hadn’t traveled with all women. Like Morocco, we were a combination of old and new. Like the carpets woven by the women in Marrakesh, we were all strands that had been woven together to create something beautiful.
Gutsy Women Travel: Morocco, Me and 14 Women photos by Unsplash.