Morocco has always been one of the top 5 countries I wanted to visit. It started when i read the little prince by Antoine de St Exupéry. Like him I always thought I’d explore the Sahara, sleep under the stars and write a memoir of my own. While that didn’t happen, I spent a week exploring Morocco from to Rabat to Marrakech. What I Learned from my trip was probably better than having a revelation in the middle of the Sahara desert.
In the course of two weeks, I visited Rabat, then made my way to Fez by train and finally to Marrakech. There were several highlights on this trip, let’s explore them through these visuals:
1a. Exploring Rabat on foot
3. Rabat to Fez by train
I love long train ride, it’s a great opportunity to see the country’s landscape. for the first hour, there were no seats available so I had to stand, eventually I gave up and sat on the floor. Once I secured a seat I was less grumpy and was able to enjoy the view. Would I travel by train in Morocco next time? Hell no. Should you on her first trip there! YES!
4. Ryad in Fez
4. Day trip to the blue city Chefchaouen
All in all, I enjoyed my trip and after spending 3 months studying for finals, it was a great way to relax and forget about my responsibilities. So naturally, I wanted to end my trip on a good note by going to a Hammam.
Hammam’s are spa’s for both women and men in the Maghreb and even some countries in the middle east. It sometimes involves, relaxing in a sauna, a full body scrub, body mud mask, and a full body oil massage. Needless to say, after traveling around the country for 2 weeks, I was ready for some me time. I arrived at the Hammam and was greeted by a woman possibly in her late 30’s. She explained that I needed to get undressed and wear a “disposable thong” before getting in the sauna. I nodded then stood in the dressing room waiting for her to give me some privacy but she kept gesturing for me to undress. So I took off my clothes, then my prosthetics. As she was organizing my belongings in the locker, I took off my shirt then my tights exposing several scars throughout my body (from my failed hip replacement & amputation)- I turned around to find her weeping then crying uncontrollably at the sight of my body. First couple of thoughts that quickly came to mind were:
“Maybe she knows someone with similar scars and it’s bringing painful memories”
“Maybe she thinks I’m in pain”
“Maybe she’s trying to imagine what I must have gone through to earn these scars”
All these thoughts brought me back to senior year in college when a new friend asked about what happened to me. I started with tales of my diagnosis, being in the hospital and some failed surgeries and right away she started crying. Before I knew it, I was comforting her and assuring her that I was not longer in pain and that I’d been in remission for a while.
(Now back to the hammam-) In a split second I wondered what to say to comfort this woman. So with a firm voice I said “If you’re gonna cry the whole time, please send someone else is here!”
In both cases, somehow, I felt as if it was my duty to comfort these two women. In college I acted without regards to my own feelings. In the Hammam however, what I learned that day was to stop taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings. Through my journey of cancer diagnosis and dealing with the aftermath I’ve shed a lot of tears (enough tears) but most importantly my mental well being is more important than anyone pitying me.