Twelve Geography students (Lower and Upper Sixth), JP Davies and Kate Palmer went during half term to Morocco and it was a country that really hit all of the senses.
The diversity of landscapes was a Geographer’s dream!
Marrakesh was the group’s first introduction to this exciting and vibrant country – the traffic was chaotic – the first hotel la Fouchard was in the past the Town Hall and perhaps a little shabby round the edges but offered a great location, right next to the Medina where we had a late evening stroll and saw lots of street food stalls and local people ‘hanging out’ together with music being played.
The next day we had a horse and cart tourist trip round the city to see the different quarters such as the old Jewish sector where there were many small businesses at work such as motorcycle repairs, then with sprigs of mint under our noses we went around the tannery – a hive of activity with animal skins being prepared, cleaned and dried. With our guide leading the way we moved through the maze of alleyways that makes up the souks (markets) and were all astonished at the numerous stalls selling leather goods, intricate metalworks – we wanted to buy the most amazing globe for the geography room – and of course the most beautiful carpets and rugs.
The next part of our fantastic trip was taking a minibus out to the Atlas mountains to a trekking centre called Imlil- here we stayed at a beautiful hotel in the village and had the most incredible Moroccan food – no moans from any of the students- such as tagine, both meat and vegetable versions served with the most delectable bread. We trekked for a full day, together with mules to a col in the mountains, students playing endless snowball games with the muleteers, where we could look down into the more remote valleys and traditional Berber villages. At this point we then all experienced what has to be the ‘best picnic’ in the world with a 360 degree view of the snowy Atlas mountains and even more wonderful food after the challenge of a great hill trek, with plentiful supplies of Moroccan ‘mint tea’. After a long walk back to the village we detoured to the world famous Kasbar in Imlil where students were able to relax in the ‘hammam’ steam baths, another new and exciting experience.
On our way back to Marrakesh the next day we stopped at a small charity venture called ‘Education for all’, an initiative set up 10 years ago to provide education for girls from rural communities in Morocco to continue their education after primary school. The charity provides and runs girls’ boarding houses near secondary schools/ lycees. Our students donated stationary, rucksacs, old trainers that we had brought across from the UK and were allowed a tour of one of the 5 boarding houses, we even met the English Ambassador to Morocco who was opening the 5th Boarding house that day.
We all felt incredibly inspired by the opportunities this charity provides and are hoping to set up further links between d’Overbroeck’s and this organisation into the future.
Finally we had time to practice our bartering skills in the busy and exciting souks back in Marrakesh that we had walked through at the beginning of our amazing trip.
The students were an absolute pleasure and delight to be with over our 5 day experience and as one said to us ‘ the best school trip ever’ sums up how I think we all felt.