From the 13th to the 18th of November, SIB-Amsterdam got to explore the wonderful cities of Rabat and Fes, respectively the political and cultural epicenters of Morocco. Every year, SIB travels to a destination not too far from its origin during the late Autumn. This year we chose to focus on Morocco due to its unusual political position within Africa, often acting as a communicator between Africa, the Middle East and Europe. We learned more about the international relations, domestic hardships and the involvement of the Netherlands with the country.
We started our trip traveling from Amsterdam to Brussels South Airport, where we took a flight to Rabat, the current capital of Morocco. After arriving, we treated ourselves to a group dinner complete with tajines, incredible salads and traditional mint tea – poured from over a meter high! The next morning, we walked over to the Dutch embassy, where we spoke to a senior diplomat, who informed us of the numerous projects the Netherlands is doing in the country as well as the issues faced by Moroccans living in the Netherlands. In the afternoon, we hung out with Sahar, the former president of SIB-Amsterdam who is currently studying in Rabat, as she showed us around the medina and Kasbah of the Udayas. Afterwards we visited the NGO, Heinrich Böll, where we got a different view of current cultural trends, specifically in ecology and public services.
After a night in the city, we took late morning taxis to Fes, the previous and historic capital of Morocco. We were met by our Riad host, Mohamed, who took us past the Blue Gate through the souks and winding alleys to our humble abode. After settling in the Riad with a warm welcome of tea and hospitality, we were given a generous tour by another local, who showed us all the main historical sites, best places to eat and the wonderful handicrafts ranging from tanned leather to textiles and tapestry. After a night of sleep in our lovely medina dwellings, we received a luxurious breakfast, and after which, a small group of us traveled with our host to a Hammam, a traditional Moroccan bathhouse. Refreshed and revitalized, we indulged ourselves in a steaming plate of couscous to energize us for an afternoon of exploration. Some of us wandered through the souks while others took a journey out to a viewing point, which had a wonderful view of the distinctive shapes and colors of Fes. In the evening, we all met up for our final group dinner in a ornamental restaurant with lively tiles and boisterous ceilings – where we ate our last tajines before having a nights rest and heading back to Rabat the morning after. Following a train ride, a flight back to Brussels South, a night in Charleroi and a subsequent bus ride back to Amsterdam, we completed our trip with sleepy eyes and fulfilled hearts.