Since January I’ve pondered where I’d go for Semana Santa or Spring Break as we refer to it, in the States. I have an endless list of places I’d like to visit but when March approached and I still didn’t have plans I debated between joining a friend to Switzerland- she has family in a few cities and I have a friend living in Genoa! It seemed like the perfect opportunity; to stay with locals and the chance to see a friend but was slowly discouraged when flights were outrageously high and then the cost of expensive Switzerland. Morocco has been on my radar for a few years and before I applied to my current job, I envisioned traveling in Spain- Morocco- Portugal!
Yet I was nervous to travel in Morocco solo. I’d heard stories from woman traveling alone in Egypt and constantly being harassed by men and assumed Morocco would be similar- they are both Arab countries, after all.Yet, it’s not like I haven’t been “harassed by men,” when traveling in Africa alone before, it often comes with the territory of being a single female traveler. But I had a feeling the Arab male dominant culture would be different than my experiences in a Eastern and Southern Africa. I was relieved and excited when an auxiilar friend, Lisa, whom I had met months before, expressed interest in visiting Morocco. Like me she didn’t want to go solo. It was natural we’d go together!
We “planned” our trip mostly by internet and I found myself overwhelmed and realizing I much prefer to have a guidebook in hand to consult when I need. Though planning can be helpful and a good idea when it comes to transport time tables and routes, I prefer to let spontaneity have it’s fun and see what happens. Though, when you only have 10 days vs. 9 months, planning does make a difference in making sure the few “must see” places are seen! At the last minute she got hold of a guidebook and a friend of mine emailed me PDF files of Lonely Planet’s newest guidebook. I was relieved.
I started my trip on Thursday afternoon, the day when most of Spain was on Strike to protest the recently elected new government’s cuts and protests were happening around the country. My coordinator was surprised I was going to travel on a strike day as he said it’s not common for Spaniards to do so but there was a bus running with plenty of seats and I was taken it- To Malaga!
My friend Mary whom I met at Burning Man, inspired by my time in Spain, booked herself a ticket to Barcelona (Woo Mary!, if only I COULD CONVINCE the rest of you to come visit!) with the goal to make it to my little neck of the woods. Unexpectedly, it worked out beautifully-she went to Malaga and I was meeting Lisa there on Friday evening. Mary gave me incentive to get to Malaga the night before!
We had a blast talking and taking in the city in our way- watching passerby’s, eating lunch, visiting the Picasso museum and having the security guard give us insight and background to several of the paintings. (I’ll admit, I’ve never gave much attention to Picasso but after visiting his museum in Barcelona filled with his earlier and unknown work and the museum in Malaga, I have a greater appreciation of the artist).
Lisa arrived later that night and though exhausted from a full day of work and then travel, she was game for tapas. Mary had her eye on a cute little tapas place where she tried Malaga’s version of Paella and shared a few tapas. Later, when a different waiter came to check on us, he was curious where we were from… a great conversation starter and I never give the answer away that easily. Everyone’s first guess is “De Inglanterra” (my fair skin, my freckles and the fact that England is a lot closer to Spain than the States gets them every time!)
The waiter invited us in for chupitos (shots) and how could we say no? We came inside and the waiter quickly locked the door behind us. Ha. Did you know, Honey liquor is delicious! We laughed, joked and stayed for a while. We seemed to be speaking a mile a minute and I was translating for Mary. (yes, I got this… A good Spanish day!) Even met the owner of the bar who was enjoying a meal with his family in the upstairs dining room who came down to ask for a café and then serenaded us and made us feel like family. These are the moments I cherish.
Este es la vida!
Oh the fun we had. It’s interesting how you can not really know a person but yet feel so connected as if you’ve known them for years. That’s how I felt with my day with Mary. Mary- So glad you came!