"Looks can be deceiving." I have found this to be true on numerous occasions. Our perception of reality and what is actually real do not coincide. The best example of this is negatively judging a stranger on first handshake. Like a dope you learn their story and realize you were completely wrong about them. Generally, we form opinions about people/places without learning more about who or what is truly underneath the surface. In these times, everyone ( I say everyone but I know not evvverryone) is on high alert and scared of anything that doesn't look like them. It makes me sad.
My first trip out of the country was to Marrakech, Morocco.
Those of you who have visited, might be wondering why I chose such an exotic location for my first stint out of the U.S.. It was a spur of the moment thing. A bunch of my friends had been traveling for some time and I was envious of the memories they were creating. I wanted to experience life outside of my comfort zone and go see the world.
My roommate Danielle had just come back from Brazil with her contagious traveling bug in tow and I wanted to catch it. I felt inspired by her stories and craved the chance to experience it for myself. After many long conversations and "Googling" sessions, we booked a flight to Portugal. Two days into our trip we were on a flight to Marrakech having no clue what to expect. I was a nervous wreck and doubled over in anxiety. (Portugal was not much of a shock to me because Lisbon was like a second New York City). As the plane landed in the Marrakech Airport, I embodied the motor skills of the Tin Man. I was scared out of my mind and felt like I was never going to see my family again. There were so many men everywhere and most of them cab drivers harassing us to hop in their cab. All of my senses were on overdrive and from the outside I must have looked like a deer in headlights.
Looking back, I laugh thinking about this. I was so scared of what I didn't know. But isn't that where a lot of judgment and prejudices come from...fear?
We stayed in Marrakech for 4 days and by the end, I wished it was longer. After getting over the sudden impact of the people and culture, I was in love with the beauty and excitement of Morocco. To this day I still quote, "Welcome to Morrocccoooo," that was a common phrase among the people there. Most of the Moroccans I came in contact with were so nice and friendly. (There were some jerky people but there's always a skunk in the mix wherever you go.)
My favorite memory was when I slept overnight in the Sahara Dessert. I've never seen stars so crisp and clear and probably won't ever again.
(Below is a picture of me and Mohammed... My bro.) I will have these memories etched in my brain forever. If I didn't take that chance and delve into the depths of the unknown, my eyes wouldn't have been opened to see what was really there all along.