David's Download - Feelings of Morocco before and after our visit

Morocco has been a wonderful and adventurous experience for me. Although I was hesitant at first about coming, I am now very pleased that we came and explored this this country. I now realize that you can't get a real sense of what the world is actually like without visiting places that are different from your way of living.

At first thought I pictured countries like Morocco to still be living in the past. No technology, no modern architecture, no cars, nothing. In a way, Morocco is still living in the past. Just take away the motorcycles and televisions from the medinas (old towns within the cities), and you've got an old Arabic country. I had no idea what to expect beforehand, and only got a small idea of what it would be like after reading about it.

When we arrived, I felt as if I were walking on a movie set or reading a book. The snake charmers, markets, souqs, and storytellers seemed to be just a dream. The clothes, mosques, family workshops, and acrobats were almost unreal. Although I liked almost everything about Morocco, some things I just despised. The air in the cities is so polluted from all the old cars and motor bikes that my dad and I got instant headaches. But if exploring the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life means getting a headache, it's defiantly worth it!

I also hated the bargaining. Everything in Morocco is negotiated and if you're too soft (like I am) you can get totally ripped off. Luckily my dad has a good strategy and enjoys doing it. He can always lower the price by saying that we will come back later. Usually shop owners raise the price by almost three times the actual price! I always feel like I am disrespecting them by offering a very low price, but in reality it's perfectly normal. I don't like it when shop owners approach me and try to get me to take a look in their store. I feel so uncomfortable. We have been told that ten years ago they would push and push you very hard until you buy something, but that now they have learned that that won't encourage customers.

The technology hit me like a slap in the face. It was so strange to see cyber cafes loaded with Moroccans in the middle of the souqs. It was also extremely surprising to see television and radio auctions and even some play stations sets in the very center of Marrakech. We got a kick out of hearing that almost everyone has a cell phone, even the Berber tribes with no electricity! We also noticed that all the apartments have satellite dishes. Every building was dotted with them and put wherever there was room, whether on roofs or out of windows. To my total surprise there were even cars (just kidding)!!!

Now that we have been traveling for four months, I have discovered that the places I will remember the most will be the places that are so different from our lives today. Russia, Morocco, and Istanbul are just some examples of places that are different from the States. Visiting places unlike your own is the only way to learn what the world is really all about.