1.) Brush up on Moroccan politics
An experience in Morocco will be much more enriching if you can understand Moroccan politics which, as in most parts of the world, are very complex. You can take a class at a university or research institute. If you take the time to understand the context of the political climate that Moroccans are living in, you will begin to understand why certain things happen. I have had quite a few “ah ha” moments especially after a few politics classes.
2.) Talk to as many people as you can
People in Morocco are very, very friendly and personable. It is very easy, even for the shyest of foreigners, to feel comfortable here. If you see a group of students or young people at a cafe, try and strike up a conversation with them. Chances are you will walk away with a few new friends.
3.) Don’t be afraid to take a “grand taxi”
In Morocco, there are usually two types of taxis: petite taxis, and grand taxis. Petite taxis are like taxis you might be used to in the U.S. Grand taxis are usually 1980s model Mercedes Benzs that are not always in the best condition, and can hold up to 6 passengers who you split the tab with. You get an adrenaline rush when you realize the seat you are sitting on isn’t actually attached to anything while you dart through rush hour traffic at questionably high speed. At the same time, you can make friends with the other people in the car by your shared fear for your lives. Two birds with one stone! (Jokes aside, they are a cheaper alternative to petite taxis, and you do get to meet some cool people, without being scared for your life. That just happened to me once, very recently.)
4.) Visit as many cities as you can
It is nice to be able to see the differences from one city to the next. From the textiles in Fez, to the art scene in Marrakech, there is a great deal of diversity between all of the cities in Morocco. Getting between cities is very efficient with the train system. Tickets usually cost between 50-200 Dirhams per ride (5-20 U.S. Dollars) depending on the distance. I recommend traveling first class, which just ensures that you have a place to sit. Otherwise you might be standing for a while.
5.) …And also try to get out of the cities
The geographical diversity in Morocco is amazing. When my study abroad program went on our excursion, we woke up in the snow if the Atlas Mountains, and we went to sleep in the sand of the Sahara Desert. By seeing the landscape and the rural lifestyles of people in Morocco, you can begin to understand the complexity of the country and its beauty.
6.) Go to co-operatives
Co-operatives in Morocco make things from cups, to roof tiles, to jellabas. Visiting these co-ops is a way to see the labor that goes into all of the things that you might buy as a tourist. You have the opportunity to put the face of the maker behind the object, and understand that someone physically chipped away each tile to get that exact design for that table top.
7.) Let Morocco be what it is
Don’t get too bogged down trying to categorize the country, because chances are you won’t be able to. It’s not only an African country, or only a Muslim country, or only a Mediterranean country. It’s all of these things. When you can acknowledge Morocco’s diversity and complexity, you will be able to appreciate it more.