Over the past two weeks, I have experienced the diversity that Moroccan climate has to offer. Last weekend, I went to the city of Azrou just under 100 kilometers south of Fez. This town nestled between the Middle and High Atlas Mountains seemed like the perfect getaway after a long school week. I was promised beautiful hiking, monkeys in the cedar forest, and even snow (something a girl from Ohio could do without)! After the four hour bus ride from Rabat to Azrou, my friends and I made our way to our hostel for the night. We had no clue what the next few days had in store for us.
The very night we arrived, the weather forecast changed from “light snow showers” to “blizzard warning,” and the hostel owner informed us that the heating advertised online was a gas heater only to be used for an hour at a time if we didn’t want the smell a gas to make us sick! The eight of us spent the night together in a blanket fort we built to beat the cold. The next morning, we layered up our winter clothes and tried to venture out in the snow storm. We quickly realized just how horrible the weather was when we found out the only road out of town was blocked until the snow cleared. After five long days stuck in Azrou and missing classes, the sun came out and we made our way back to Rabat. We later found out that the snow storm made national news. Basically, I survived the Moroccan Snowpocalypse.
Less than a week later, two of my dearest friends and I visited the city of Chefchaouen. In the Rif Mountain region, Chefchaouen is one of Morocco’s hidden gems. The blue and white medina walls were lined with artwork and hand woven rugs, and the village of Akchour, about an hour outside of the city, is where I hiked to my first waterfall! The warm temperature and sunny days in this region were such a contrast from my blizzard days in Azrou that I could hardly believe I was in the same country.
I thought it was important to write about the diversity of Morocco because I can remember back to how little I knew the weeks before leaving the US for this semester. I didn’t even believe I would need a light jacket, let alone snow boots! I will admit, when I thought of Morocco, I thought of heat. I thought of the desert. I thought of long hot days and cool nights. I did not think of snow storms. But after my experiences over the past two weeks, I have come to appreciate just how beautiful this country is. Two people who have lived their whole lives in Morocco could have very different experiences living less than three hours away from each other.
With midterms going on this week at AMIDEAST, I am realizing my semester here in Morocco is inching closer to the halfway mark. I know that each day I am here, I will continue to learn from this unique country. Let’s hope the last half of the semester is as great as the first!