This is not the first time we have experienced such feelings, it was the same when we visited Marrakech in February, to speak at the Aiesec Menara Leadership Conference.
Everywhere we went people were smiling courteous and helpful. I know that many people experience such things in many places, but they often feel that this kindness is just on the surface, like it’s just a case of people being polite and nothing more.
What we experienced in Morocco was so much deeper than that, people looked to provide us help and support, more often for our benefit, rather than there own. When we offered to pay for the help it was refused, and people said that it was their pleasure.
We were made to feel so welcome by so many people.
One new friend told us that if we were ever in his home town of Tangiers we were always welcome to stay with him, and that we should consider his home as our second home, our home in Morocco.
It’s so easy for people to make hollow offers such as this, but this was no hollow offer, it was heartfelt and genuine. We know this because of the amount of time and effort people offered, often going out of their way to help us.
The highlight of the trip for us was our visit to Fez.
At the conference where I presented we had a translator who translated the talks simultaneously into french, he was called Mohammed, and he was from Fez.
When we mentioned we would spend our last day in Fez, he insisted that we allow him to be our guide, he said it would be his pleasure to show us the delights of his city.
We said ok, when we arrived in Fez he contacted us immediately took great care of us, spending around 5-6 hours showing us the sights, giving us interesting information and background on the city.
As dusk broke he took us to a hotel with bar/veranda which overlooked the city so we could experience the sunsetting over Fez, which was beautiful.
To compensate him for his time and effort we offered to take him to dinner, but he refused, telling us that he had already arranged for his wife to prepare dinner for us and it would be his honour if we would come to eat with him and his family in his home.
The food prepared by his wife was superb, the best meal we ate in the four days, and it was great to share it and meet with his family and get a closer look into Moroccan home life.
We stayed until around midnight, making our apologies as we needed to leave as we needed to take a taxi at 7am the following morning to the airport. Our host told us he was be offended if we took a taxi rather than let him and his wife drive us to the airport. We said it was too early especially as it was already midnight.
Finally we accepted, and the following morning at 7am Mohammed and his wife, khadija, drove us to the airport, in a generous act of kindness that really touched us.
The spirit we experienced in Morocco was something that we haven’t really felt in a long time, and with this kind of community spirit and willingness to help, which we saw in many places I believe that Morocco could really make some great achievements.
People seem willing to work for one another and there is a vibrant intelligence about the young students which really lifts the spirit of the place. Which, when harnessed with the right vision and leadership will achieve great results.
Rest assured this will not be our last trip to Morocco as we love the place, the people and the spirit.
If you have never visited Morocco I suggest you give it a try, but you need to visit it with an open heart, and if you do, you will see a wonderful country with wonderful people.