During my high school years, Rustic Pathways, a travel company that specializes, in group trips for students, was literally my ticket to adventure. I was drawn to their trips because, in addition to offering far away, off the beaten path destinations, they include community service in the area you are visiting. In my opinion, the best way to truly experience a new place is to immerse yourself in the locals, and even better if you are helping their community in some way. Also the pasta! If you can find it .
My first trip with them was to Thailand, which I have written about in another post. The following summer, I went on another trip with them called the Moroccan Wanderer – destination – you guessed it – Morocco!
Upon arrival, we settled in and immediately jumped into community service. Each day we would hike down a hill to a remote village to assist in building a school for the local children to attend.
As a group, we all had individual tasks, but worked together toward our goal. One person would mix cement while the others would pass the bucket down an assembly line leading to the final person. Their job was to pat the cement down for the foundation of the building. Everyone worked really hard, but we also had lots of laughs – as in “Can you believe we’re doing this in Morocco ? Mind blowing to say the least.
Here is a perfect example of what I meant by immersing yourself in the culture. I learned that since we were working during Ramadan, one of the highest observances in the Muslim religion, most of the villagers that were helping out, were fasting and not able to eat or drink anything all day, under the hot Moroccan sun. I honestly don’t know how they do it.
By far, the most rewarding part of my trip to Morocco was seeing the little children’s eyes peering out from behind the rubbish dunes, curiously watching us work. Knowing that one day they would attend the school we were helping to build, and get an education was just an amazing feeling.
Our next adventure took us to the Sahara Desert. Here, we all road camel back across the desert to our camp. As cool as it sounds, I also learned camels are not the most comfortable means of transportation…ouch!Arriving at our camp, we were all amazed by how beautiful it was. Remote is an understatement. It was the only thing for miles!
Spending the night in the Sahara was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Since there is no man made light in the desert, the whole galaxy is visible. The detail of the milky way was breathe-taking. Laying in the warm sand dunes, watching the night sky felt other-worldly and was beyond relaxing. Except for the fear that a scorpion might wander by.
Next on our itinerary, hiking a mountain where we had the privilege of meeting a real nomadic family , who lived in caves within the mountains. The man had three wives and many children. They had only one donkey to ride up and down the mountain to get food and water. This was one of the most memorable experiences I had in Morocco and a great reminder of how lucky I am to have what I have.
Our host served us the most incredible mint mint tea I have ever tasted. Having to share cups made it even more special.
While there wasn’t a pasta noodle in sight, overall my experience in Morocco left me with so many life-long memories and a better understanding of a culture I really knew little about. Isn’t that what travel is all about ?
To check out all of the amazing trips and community service opportunities offered by Rustic Pathways, visit: https://rusticpathways.com/
Details about the specific trip I took can be found here : https://rusticpathways.com/students/programs/moroccan-wanderer-2