Salaam, I’m Up on a Mountain

Frances Raybaud is a student at Queen’s College of CUNY and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Meknes, Morocco.

Roomie Katie and I bask in the clear water on the hike up to the Akchour falls.

When I say I like green, I am not kidding around. It’s gonna come up in conversation at some point if you talk to me long enough, if you share an apartment with me (ask other ISA Meknes blogger Lauren), or most notably when watching a movie that features a lot of green.

I like it so much I decided to study the environment – and I don’t even like animals! (Hit me up about the endless cats I keep accidentally stepping on here…) But coming to Morocco, suddenly I’m into nature. And that’s because this country is so incredibly gorgeous. At home, my hobbies include walking to stuff I need to do and writing. In Morocco, I’m outdoorsy as heck. In fact, I don’t have a single blue photo from the famous blue city of Chefchaouen because when I went with a few friends, our focus wasn’t on the blue walls. It was on the green several kilometers away in Akchour, a small town that offers basically nothing except a store to stop and buy hats before you head up on the hike. Because above Akchour there are…waterfalls!

Okay, I won’t lie. The waterfalls are more impressive in summer, and by the time we headed out (my third time) in mid September, there was scarcely more than a trickle. But it’s about the journey, not the destination, and it’s a two hour hike. While originally my friends had all planned to go, David and Courtney decided to sleep in and it ended up being a major bonding day for my roommate Katie and me. That could’ve ended up a little lonely, but instead, it was chat city. Or country, as it were.

Something I have loved about Morocco the entire time I’ve been here (four months now) is how friendly everyone is. Whether it’s because Katie and I looked interesting, the fact that we shed a few layers of clothing as the hike continued, or the sheer volume of my voice in conversation, we had many people catching up or lagging behind to meet our pace and simply have a chat. We switched back and forth from Darija to French to English to FusHa (Modern Standard Arabic) the entire time – vraiment maghrebi! We met Spaniards, Italians, French Canadians, and even found a guy from Kansas when I accidentally spilled boiling hot tea all over my bare legs and swim shorts!

Yes, I’m okay. Physically. Who knows if I will live through the emotional toll of publicly scalding myself in front of strangers. But the point is, we had a great view the whole time of mountains, rivers, and sheer green. I cannot emphasize the green enough. People think of Africa as just desert. Morocco has an extremely diverse landscape, from mountains to beach to yes, desert, to grassy terrain! It’s a beautiful country. Now excuse me, because I’m gonna cry thinking about the green.

The world awaits…discover it.

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