Cristina Benavides is a student at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and an ISA Featured Blogger. Cristina is currently studying abroad in Meknes, Morocco on an ISA Fall 1 program.
Since I arrived in the country three weeks ago, I have formed many first impressions of Morocco. Among other things I noticed the passion for food, the reverence for religion, the blazing hot temperatures, the slower pace of life, the amazingly detailed architecture, and the beautiful fabrics. Yet most of all, I noticed the natural hospitality which Moroccans share not only with other members of their country, but with foreigners as well. Where better to experience Moroccan hospitality than at a baby shower?
The other night when I went to go visit some other students in my program at their apartment, we heard ridiculously loud music coming from downstairs. After debating for a while on whether or not to check it out, two of my friends finally went to see where the music was coming from. They ran back upstairs to let us know that there was a fancy party in the apartment below and that a traditional Moroccan band was playing music while a lot of people danced. As soon as we heard this information, one of the women from the party came upstairs and invited us to join them. We didn’t realize that we’d be joining a family’s celebration of a new baby, born just a week ago. The family didn’t realize how many students were in our group, a total of eleven extra people cramped into their apartment.
The party had already been going for two hours, and there were at least forty family members already there, filling the apartment to its brim. Despite this, the family insisted on inviting us to dance, eat, and then dance some more with them! The sister of the baby’s mother even kept in touch with us after the party and has offered to help us learn Darija, the colloquial dialect of Morocco, in her spare time. While the American news is currently blasting us with stories of rage in the Arab world, what I have personally experienced in Morocco is heart-warming hospitality.