By Anthony De Guzman (WG ’12)
I stared into the darkness through the window as our plane descended, willing the sun to creep over the horizon so I could enjoy an aerial view of Casablanca at daybreak. Alas, it was not to be. My first African sunrise would have to wait until later in the Morocco career trek.
CASABLANCA. “As-salamu alaykum,, our guide Ibrahim greeted us as our bus left the airport. We were already behind schedule and had to rush to the Hassan II Mosque to catch visiting hours. It did not disappoint. Resting on the Atlantic coast, the mosque boasted of the tallest minaret in the world and stunning Islamic architecture that was simultaneously intricate and understated. After a brief stop in Rabat to see Chellah, an ancient Roman site, we departed for Fes.
FES. We went straight to dinner after checking in at our hotel. Over Moroccan wine and generous portions of chicken tagine, we got to know our new friends with whom we would discover this exotic country. Unsuspectingly, a few of us were plucked out of the crowd to climb onstage with Moroccan dancers and move our hips in directions we had never before contemplated. As the night drew to a close, we could hardly believe it was only our first day.
We woke up well-rested, except the ladies who heard the distant murmur of early morning prayer. Still, sleep deprival was no match for the excitement-fueled energy we had that day. While exploring the medina (town center), we saw Moroccan craftsmanship at its finest. Handcrafted ceramics, leather, rugs and fabric were ubiquitous as we navigated the souk (market). Neither expense nor negotiating skills were spared, as most left nearly every store with a shopping bag in tow. We ended our day with a private dinner at a restaurant that looked more like a rich man’s home. Dessert alone was three courses, including cake for our dear Alissa, whom we serenaded happy birthday in five languages.
This article originally appeared in the Wharton Journal, March 26, 2012.