Get lost. Be late. Don’t rush.

It is the day of departure, and I find myself, as usual, making lists. Things I’ve already packed, things I’ve forgotten to pack, what I must not forget to do and turn off before I leave for the airport. These lists are perhaps not so interesting to anyone but myself, so I thought I’d share some other lists instead.

They (whoever THEY are) say that when packing for a trip, one should lay out everything one plans to take, and then discard half. I’m afraid I’ve done the opposite.

What I have packed:

  • My oldest and most mismatched socks, underthings, and shoes. I will toss them daily, or as soon as I buy more memorable replacements
  • The long skirts I never wear
  • Some light scarves to wrap around my head, so my light hair doesn’t attract even more attention than my clearly being a foreigner already will
  • Swiss army knife. Never travel without one.
  • More baby wipes, tissues, and travel toilet paper than you can imagine.
  • Probiotics. Lots and lots.And a veritable pharmacy for sinus infections, as I always seem to get them when I travel.

What I have NOT packed:

  • Anything tight, short, or otherwise revealing. (Except for a bathing suit, because you never know!)
  • My work computer. Huzzah, vacation!
  • Warm clothes – the temperature is going to be in the 60s and 70s while we’re there

Some goals for my trip:

  • Learn how to cook at least two Moroccan dishes
  • Speak a few words of Moroccan Arabic each day, even if they are just hello and thank you
  • Do. Not. Get. Sick. Especially in the digestive sense.
  • Ween myself off coffee in favor of mint tea.
  • Develop my photography skills.
  • Experience a hammam – preferably a more local one, not a touristy one.
  • Go beyond the tourist experience. Have conversations with locals. Get lost. Be late. Don’t rush.

This last goal, though the most vague, is really the most important to me. In preparing for this trip, I read the blog of a student who studied abroad at my company’s center in Rabat. She wrote:

When you go party in Marrakesh for a few days, perhaps even a week, or ski in Ifrane, or walk through the medina in Rabat once, what are you really seeing? Africa? The mystic East? You fill your bag with leather treasures and painted pottery and take a picture in the desert, captioned “lost in the dunes” …is that all there is to Morocco?

It is inevitable that these are the things I will do and see and buy, and that I will barely scratch the surface of the complexity that is Morocco – I am, after all, a tourist, and only there for 2 weeks. Still, there is shallow tourism, and there is thoughtful tourism, and I always aim to practice the latter.

And I will leave you with that, as I turn off the computer, throw the last few items in my suitcase, and head for the airport. Insha’Allah, I have not forgotten anything!

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