We were really too close to lose our minds, in the middle of our Morocco trip.
For me travel is not just beaches with cocktails or endless nights with exhausted early mornings, it actually is an experience, getting to know whole another culture.
I believe I should see all the aspects of a place when I am traveling. When we decided to go to Morocco with my boyfriend we kind of knew what we will be seeing there. All the tourists who had visited this mysterious country, found it magical, they even put names to it like “the land of magic carpets, colourful lamps and slippers”. we knew we were ready for an amazing experience but we could have expected only a tiny bit of what we saw there .
We decided to take a 10 days trip there on Sacrifice Holiday, which is a Muslim religious holiday. I come from Turkey, which is also a Muslim country so this is a period of time which we take the week off and go on holidays. Even though I don’t practice, I know that at this period of time each family who has enough money, sacrifices an animal like sheep or cow or camel and share the meat with under privileged people.
When we arrived at Morocco we were not sure which day would be the first day of the holiday. Apparently according to their tradition, the king decides on the first days these religious holidays. So we decided to started tour first from Casablanca, then we moved to Fez. We arrived at Fez in the afternoon and our tour guide insisted that we should go see the old bazaar of Fez at that very moment, because the holidays might start the day after. We went into the super crowded narrow streets of Fez, kind of overwhelming but at the same time mesmerising, with all the colourful spices, clothes and different types of foods we had never seen. It was just like the pictures I had seen before coming and I was super impressed.
However the next morning was a totally different scenario… We woke up with the unspeakable smell of the burnt meet. We didn’t see anything yet but the smell was so drastic that it changed our moods in just one second. We understood immediately, that day was the first day of the Sacrifice Holiday. It was our first morning in Fez and we decided to walk around in the old town. The old bazaar was completely closed. There wasn’t a single open restaurant or any sort of merchant around. We felt completely isolated and scared, because actually we were not entirely alone. Kids, old enough to be at elementary school age were burning the heads of rams on grill fires, and some women were cleaning up the guts of recently sacrificed animals. The men were collecting the skins of the animals and storing them to the corners of the houses. The most tragic part was, we were passing through them, jumping through top of the skins of the animals, looking completely like tourists as we really were. We were walking in the smoke, overwhelmed and shocked… I came to believe that the smell of the burnt meat and blood was part of me now, that it would never leave me ever. I still can remember how it felt, how it smelled. It was the smell of shock and fear. It was not just about the scarification, it was also the people. We felt like we entered to their secluded area. We were somewhere that we weren’t supposed to be. We were unwanted visitors there. Our tour guide was a very well known old man of the town. I can easily say, walking around those narrow streets wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for him.
As I menitoned before, I also come from a Muslim country so a few times in my childhood I remember vaguely coming across with dead bodies of small mammals on the streets, which was horrifying of course but made me a little bit stronger when it comes to seeing things like this. I also know, in the eastern parts of Turkey, and in rural areas, this tradition is still applied in front of the houses or in the gardens. It is part of a big culture which not a lot of people see or know the existence of it. It is not something you can see everyday.
This ceremony lasted only two days and made us incredibly overwhelmed. However, it didn’t bummed us out but instead, made us think deeper about cultural differences all around the world in the upcoming couple of days. Overall we had an extremely exotic trip to Fez, to Sahara Desert, to Atlas Mountains and to Marrakech. Every second of the trip was worth remembering and genuinely impressing.
Visiting a country, a totally new culture is not always easy. When it comes to Morocco it is not always colours, lights, exotic carpets and incredible sunsets – which by the way has one of the most beautiful orange sunsets I have ever seen with my own eyes. I believe travellers actually have to experience the tradition, the rituals of the place they are visiting, if they are lucky enough to encounter them at some point. Because that’s what opens our minds, this is what curiosity is, what understanding the world is. Sometimes it can be hard but you can’t experience and appreciate the beauty of it, without having hard moment. I don’t think most of the people wouldn’t be up to it but if we had a choice, we would want to go to Morocco at that same period of time all over again.
Because we experienced something extremely unique…. And that’s what makes travel worth having.
I share all the amazing moments I had in Morocco in pictures below. Each and every one of them is unique and reminds me of this great journey we had.