Meknes: The Big Little City

Peter Wachsmith is a student at Seattle University and an ISA Featured Blogger. He is currently studying abroad with ISA in Meknes, Morocco.

I’ve lived in Meknes now for about a month, and my emotions for the city have grown steadily as the days have passed. I spent my first week in Morocco travelling around, getting acquainted with the country. The bus tour was a fun experience, but many nights on the road left us all craving a bed of our own. By the last few nights we were all so excited to see our new city and home base. Meknes turned out to be a sight for sore eyes.

Lunch, Meknes, Morocco, Wachsmith - Photo 1
Lunch in Meknes

The city of Meknes is, geographically, a large city. There a lot of neighborhoods and areas that boast different vibes and scenery that I’ve yet to explore. I live in the Hamriya, a neighborhood that is in the Ville Nouvelle (new city), about a 20-minute walk from the Medina (old city). There is a shop that I know solely by location and not by name that sells chilled fruit juice and pastries about five minutes from my apartment and a pizza shop I’ve been to twice not much farther. I love the margherita pizza because it tastes so fresh and the crust is thin but made of flaky dough that tastes unreal! The Medina is huge and very, very beautiful. Everyone needs to experience one somewhere around Morocco. Pro-tip: look for deep fried donuts; you haven’t lived until you’ve had a Moroccan donut.

The apartment is right in the center of the city, near the main plaza. The location is great, just a short walk to school, the store and great cafes. I have yet to try them all, but it is my hope to become a regular somewhere before I leave. The Moroccan people are friendly and inviting, so I am not worried. Some locals invited our group to a weekend long break-dancing competition. I attended the preshow exposition held at the local French institute. These kids can dance! I had no idea how far the reach of break-dancing could go. The music was a blend of Arabic flavor and American hip-hop. I’m pretty sure I caught a bit of Daft Punk & Pharrell’s “Get Lucky.”

Apartment Hallway, Meknes, Morocco, Wachsmith - Photo 3
The hallway of my apartment building.

The rooftop of our building offers an expansive view of downtown and the surrounding area. I can see the mountains and farmland, which look only a stone’s throw away. I am not big on heights, but the view is too nice, especially at night. I go there to think and appreciate a quiet moment after a long day.

Hotel De Ville, Meknes, Morocco, Wachsmith - Photo 2
Hotel de Ville

I visited friends in Spain for Eid al-Kbir. I had an amazing time visiting Madrid, the city is gorgeous, and, to tell the truth, it was so good to see familiar faces. However I found myself missing Meknes. It has been an adjustment, but this big little city has become a home away from home. I miss the call to prayer marking the day and the crazy traffic of my neighborhood. There is something hectically calm about Meknes that, after a few days in Spain, I was more than happy to get back to.