It almost became comical after having the same conversation over and over as I neared my departure date for Morocco, Africa. “Sarah, you really don’t need to be traveling to Morocco. It is a very dangerous country. Many people get raped, robbed, and even die there. If you feel the need to go, go with a man or with a guided group, but do not go otherwise.”
It’s not that I don’t respect what other people say about a situation. I understand more than ever about risk and the importance of staying safe, especially when you are alone in a foreign country. But I also understand that we live in a world that focuses on the negative.
As a result, people are bound by fear and terrified to break away and explore.
After countless times of telling others that I was going to make the trip to Morocco without a man and without a guided tour, the next conversation often happened:
“Sarah, I hate that you have made the decision to go; however, whatever you do, you cannot hitchhike there. Hitchhiking in that part of the world is dangerous. They take girls like you all of the time. If you hitchhike, you will not make it out alive because the people there are not good people.”
The truth of the matter is yes – there are bad people in Morocco, just like any other country in the world. Bad things happen each day in Morocco, just like any other place in the world. People get raped, robbed, and murdered in Morocco, just like any other country in the world.
I flew out of Marrakech, Morocco to return to Spain scratching my head in wonder. With all those who were so quick to talk about how bad the people were in Morocco and how dangerous it was there, how was it that after my being there a few weeks I had not faced any of this “maltreatment?”
Was I just lucky?
If my experience was strictly based on pure luck, then I must have the best luck in the world. I must have been “lucky” the night I hitchhiked my first ride at the ferry crossing between Spain and Morocco, where my Moroccan truck driver offered to share with me his hot chicken dinner, drink, fruit, and dessert and took only a few bites for himself.
That was only the beginning.
After successfully hitchhiking with 53 different people, while I was alone and with other travelers, I am 100% confident of one thing:
I was not lucky.
I can honestly write that I did not have one single bad experience hitchhiking in Morocco. It was actually the opposite; I was treated like royalty. The Moroccan drivers (both men and women) offered me snacks, water, cookies, engaged in interesting conversations, bought me dinner, and one even invited my two friends and I to stay at his house with him and his family (an offer we accepted).
I felt sincerity from each and every one of my Moroccan drivers as they took me from city to city. I felt a genuine desire from them to get to know who I was in a short period of time and a desire in return to share their culture with me. Conversations were not limited by a difference in religion or nationality.
They accepted me just as I was, burka or not. I felt no judgement about me and not once was I uncomfortable with any of my male drivers. Were all 53 of these successful hitchhiking experiences luck?
Or could it be that we are too quick to label a whole culture based on little knowledge and negative news reports?
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