Julia Mattis is a student at the The Ohio State University and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Barcelona, Spain.
Over a year ago I was faced with the question, “If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?” Without hesitating I answered, “Morocco.” In my mind, Morocco seemed mysterious. I didn’t truly know too much about it, but photos of the intricate patterned architecture, bustling markets, and the endless miles of open nothingness called out to me. So when I heard that ISA offered a six-day day excursion to Morocco during my program in Barcelona, my heart skipped a beat.
Morocco Day 1: March 23, 2018
I could feel that I was in a place different than anywhere else I’d been before. In Fez, other camera clicking, hat-wearing tourists roam the streets, but they aren’t documenting monuments like one would in Paris or Rome. This type of tourist feels different. I walk through the labyrinth—that is, the Medina of Fez—with open eyes that notice how the people of Fez go about their day: where the locals live, how they make an income, and how they dress. Each narrow passageway unveils more colorful mosaics and intricate passageways. Light filters through buildings, sometimes revealing people in prayer and other times people entranced in their craft. I am in a constant state of awe, and I have yet to enter the most mysterious part of the country, the Sahara Desert.
The sun was just beginning its descent into the horizon when we stopped on the outskirts of a desert city. Rushing out of the bus, we thew our bags into the back of car and piled in with our driver, a local man named Mohammed. Mohammed grew up in this town and then moved to Fez to study English and literature; he is almost like the mayor in that everyone here knows and likes him. Mohammed turned the dial to the right, and Africa by Shakira blared out the speaker.
We rolled the windows down to feel the rush of wind as the car bolted through the desert. We were full of laughter, singing, and feeling the thrill of speeding through a new landscape as the sunset painted the sky. It was bliss. The song must have repeated itself 4 times, but none of us noticed until we stopped at an overlook to watch in awe as the sun rapidly disappeared into the landscape. It was such a beautiful moment. Before it got too dark, we continued the journey into the vast desert to our campsite to the tune of Moroccan music.
As our car whipped through the dunes, I stuck my head out of the window to embrace the wind whipping my hair in all different directions. Secluded and surrounded by 360 degrees of sand mountains laid our camp: a cute community of tents constructed of fabric and a big white tent for eating and dancing.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.
love you’re perspective, and your photography is stunning.