The Sahara Desert

People in the Dunes of the Sahara Desert in Morocco

Our experience in Morocco for the last three months would never have been the same without Mr. Harim and the British Language Academy. For the majority of our stay in this country we have been living in the basement dorm of the English school and volunteering as workawayers and guest speakers. Everyday in the evenings we talk with the students in groups about everything from food, to Moroccan culture, to Islam, to women’s rights. Hearing a young Moroccan perspective on these topics has been interesting, educational, and eye-opening.

Mr. Harim is the founder of the British Language Academy schools in Casablanca, Berrechid, Fez, and soon El Jadida, Morocco. He is one of the most generous and kind people I’ve met, and his dream for the schools is inspiring. If you are ever in Morocco, volunteering at this school is a life changing experience I would highly recommend.

With his help we have visited other places in Morocco such as El Jadida, Casablanca, The Atlas Mountains, Fez, Essaouira, and most recently: the Sahara Desert.

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volunteer in morocco, workaway, sahara desert

All our Workaway friends in the desert


The Sahara Desert

We arrived at desert camp after a two-hour bumpy camel ride through the golden dunes of the Sahara.

camels in the Sahara desert, workaway, Morocco

Friendly camels

Sahara desert, workaway, Morocco

Our tiny oasis, tents at the base of a giant sand dune

Sunset in the Sahara

We stopped half-way on our camel ride to watch the sun set.

As in Moroccan culture, we were greeted upon arrival with sweet mint tea and nuts. Desert life is very laid back. We explored the nearby dunes, gazed at the stars, talked, sang, and laughed for hours. For dinner we ate a savory vegetable tajine together. Later, we danced to the beat of the Berber drums and the light of a crackling fire, as a million stars shined brightly above our heads.

Berber musicians in the Sahara desert

Berber musicians

Night in the desert is very cold, so around eleven we feel asleep under four blankets apeice in the tent. The next moring, we woke early and climbed to the top of a multi-hundred foot dune to watch the sunrise. The treck was exhuasting to say the least, as climbing up a mountain of sand is not easy, but the veiw of hundreds of miles of dunes surrounding us illuminated by the early morning sun made the climb worth it. Finally, we sprinted and jumped down the cool, orange sand back to camp, and rode our camels back to base camp on the edge of the desert.

Sahara Desert, Morocco, Turban

Lauren and her Berber style turban

People in the Dunes of the Sahara Desert in Morocco

Friends in the Dunes

The desert trip was the culminating event of our stay in Morocco, and one of the coolest things I’ve experienced in my life. Now we have about a week left on our visa, and are preparing to head back to Spain on the 24th. I’m so thankful for our time here and all the experiences and people who have made it so memorable.

Thanks for reading and happy travels πŸ™‚ xx -Iz

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Colors and Culture of the Moroccan Medinas

Colors and Culture of the Moroccan Medinas

 

Here is an excerpt of myΒ photography passion project for Wanderingeducators.com on the beautiful and unique Moroccan medinas. To read the full article clickΒ here.


Colors and Culture of the Moroccan Medinas

The best part of travel photography, for me, is capturing images of culture. There is nothing I love more than being completely immersed in a place with culture vibrant and new to me. While living in Morocco for three months, I have been photographing the life and culture of the medinas.

A medina is the historical old town of a city in Morocco and other northern African countries. They are full of tight alleyways, high walls, colorful storefronts, warm street food, and people. They are also free of cars, which make them an easy place to spend the day wandering around and photographing.

To read the rest on wanderingeducators.com click hereΒ πŸ™‚

Colors and Culture of the Moroccan Medinas

Shoes for sale in Essaouira

 

5 Reasons Why Penang, Malaysia is a Foodies Paradise

1) A diverse palate: Penang island is a hub for diverse and exotic street food cuisine from all over the world. Whether you’re looking for Arabic, India, Malay, Chinese, Thai, or even Italian food you will not be disappointed here. While halal cusine dominates, because Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, plenty of non-halal restaurants and bars can be found in the area.

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A vendor cooks a Chinese noodle dish. This was taken right outside our hostel in the heart of Georgetown, Penang.Β 

2) Β English Menus: In 1771 the British became involved in Malaysia for the first time when they tried to turn Penang island into a trading port. Malaysia remained a colony under British rule until their independence in 1946. Today the impact of colonization remains in some ways, including that all Malays speak English. Ordering food has never been easier. In China we would never have been able to ask a vendor what the best food on the menu is – unless of course we spoke Mandarin. Here in Penang you can eat delicious food without the hassle of struggling to communicate what you want.

A juice vendor and his cart in Penang.

A juice vendor and his cart in Penang.

3) Little India: Little India is hands down my favorite place in Malaysia. The streets are lined with vendors and the delicious smells of curry and spices. Pop music from 2008 blasts out of stores selling sarees or copy written movies. What’s even better is that Little India is even more popular with the locals than it is with foreigners. My recommendations would be to try the Indian tea, a sweet creamy tea with condensed milk, vegetable somosas, and to find a vendor who is cooking his bread on site.

Why Penang is a foodies paradise. Colorful Indian food.

Our Indian food which was devoured mere seconds later.

4) It’s Cheap: For one of the most tourist frequented destinations in Malaysia, Penang is incredibly inexpensive – that is if you eat street food like the locals. My family was able to eat a full meal of dhal, chicken curry, a ton of naan, rice, and indian tea for just 1 USD each. A bowl of chinese soup usually costs just 1 or 2 USD.

Why Penang is a foodies paradise. Hand pulled noodle soup.

Hand pulled noodle soup

5) Clean and Fresh: Overall the standards of cleanliness and freshness I saw in Penang were very good. Vendors seemed very clean in their practices. Some Chinese restaurants even provided boiling water to sterilize our cups and silverware. I ate very adventurously at places no tourists seemed to be eating at and never got sick. The food is very fresh and meat and vegetables come from the morning markets.

Why Penang is a food paradise. Street vendor cooks chinese food at night.

All the ingredients necessary for a delicious Chinese meal. Seen in Georgetown, Penang.

What is Privilege?

What is privilege?

The dictionary defines privilege as a special right or advantage available only to a particular person or group. Most people think of privilege as something you are born with such as your race, where you live, how much money your parents or their parents had. Growing up in a very wealthy white neighborhood as a far from wealthy kid I noticed the kids going to my school had shiny new cars, expensive clothing, and parents with jobs as lawyers or company owners. The abundance of wealth there influenced me to think that money is privilege. Having more than what you need. However, living in and around villages in Mexico where the income gap is so large that, according to Business Insider, the richest 10% make 30 times more than the lowest 20%, who don’t make enough money to put food on the table, has shown me that having privilege is so much less than being wealthy.

The people here work so hard to survive. The minimum salary is just 70 pesos (4 dollars) here, and for jobs that in America pay 50,000 USD a year Mexicans make just 12,000. So many people sell fruit and vegetable in the market, or work in convenience stores to provide for their families. Or they spend hours making selling home made sandwiches for just 10 pesos (50 cents) each. So many children can’t afford to go to good schools because the good ones are a luxury only the wealthy can afford. If you look out the bus window when you enter towns you can see fully furnished new houses and then next door a hut made of cement blocks and a tarp for a roof.Β 

 

Privilege is three warm meals a day and a roof over our heads. Privilege is being healthy and having help if you are sick. It is feeling safe in your home and surroundings. Privilege is not having to drive down the highway with young children and baby on the back of a moped. Privilege is education. Privilege is shoes on your feet and clothing on your back. It is knowing you can have a bright future. It is clean water and showers, and people who love you. Yes, having money is a privilege but real privilege is having the things that we so easily take for granted. The things that so many people don’t have.