These past three days a group of us traveled to Morocco, a Muslim country on the northern coast of Africa and saw four cities; Tangier, Tétouan, Chefchaouen and Asilah. I've never been to Africa before, nor have I spent a considerable amount of time around anyone of the Muslim faith so this segment of my time abroad was the first time I felt culture shock! It's easy to blend in when you're Latino living in a westernized city in Spain, but all eyes are on you (not necessarily in a bad way) when you step foot in Morocco.
We first had to take a bus ride from Granada to Tarifa, a port city on the south of Spain where we waited to take a 45-minute ferry ride across the Mediterranean Sea to Tangier, Morocco. While this was all really cool and we got to see some amazing views on the ride to Tangier and on the water, we all had to meet at the bus station in Granada at 7:45 in the morning and didn't reach Morocco until the early afternoon. When we got there, however, we were all told to turn out clocks back one more hour than we were expecting; Morocco is one hour behind Spain, but because we went during Ramadan, clocks were turned back another hour,
Within 10 minutes of stepping off of the boat in Morocco, we heard the Adhan, or the call to prayer that resonates from the many mosques, and heard it again when our bus stopped near a souk (market) in Tangier. I've never heard it before, and I can only describe it as a surreal, other-worldly sound, which goes...
God is Great
Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah
I bear witness that there is no god except the One God.
Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
Hurry to the prayer (Rise up for prayer)
Hurry to success (Rise up for Salvation)
God is Great
La ilaha illa Allah
There is no god except the One God
Here's a link to a YouTube video with audio of the Adhan.
After traveling to Africa and a Muslim country, I now realize just how messed up America's view is of places like these. Now I know that I didn't travel to the Middle East (which is on my bucket list by the way) nor did I spend a lot of time there, but the stereotype that these people are all western-hating radicals is just absurd. With the exception of the stray annoying street vendor, we were treated with nothing but kindness from all we met; shop owners, business people, and were even welcomed to Morocco by people in the street who recognized we were foreigners. Morocco is a country full of historic culture and people and I'm so grateful that I got to go on this journey. In Morocco, they don't say goodbye and instead say "salam aleikum" meaning "may Allah's peace, mercy and blessing be upon you" but they use it in many different conversational settings, such as a welcome, thank you, and also as a goodbye. When said as a goodbye it's meant as a "see you again" and I know that I will be back in Morocco someday. And how fitting that as we boarded the boat to head back to Spain, we heard the beautiful music of the Adhan drift over the Arab landscape one last time.
Salam Aleikum Maroc. Thank you for allowing us to visit and experience your kindness.
شكرا لكم على السماح لنا بزيارة وتجربة لطفكم