Morocco bound

If I were to make a word cloud of all my discussions with people over the last year regarding my and Melissa’s plans to live abroad, one question would be right in the middle in 100-point text: “Why Morocco?”

Depending on the tone of the question — concerned, baffled, enthralled — Melissa and I would answer the question with a slightly different twist on the same few talking points:

  • “Oh, it’s really stable politically and pretty welcoming to foreigners.”
  • “It’s a pretty central location for travelling around Europe and the Mediterranean.”
  • “Well, they speak French, so we’ll be able to get by in the local language.”
  • “There’s a lot of infrastructure investment and development going on, so job prospects look good.”
  • “Basically, we wanted to go somewhere exotic.”

In many of these conversations during the past few months, my mind was on autopilot. We had booked our flight months ago, and the idea of moving to Morocco seemed like old news already, almost routine. When someone new inevitably asked, “Why Morocco?” I would often play through a string of well-rehearsed lines.

Now, though, it’s really happening. We leave tomorrow. Here’s my luggage, all packed up:

As our departure inches closer, I have to remind myself that this is not routine, that reading travel guides and phrasebooks and blogs and expat forums won’t prepare me for everything. (If it did, what would be the point of travelling at all?)

More importantly, I have to remind myself that the quick list of reasons I gave above isn’t inspiring, and it’s not what got Melissa and I excited about Morocco in the first place. So I find myself asking in earnest, why Morocco? On this last day that I have in Canada, let me venture an answer that I don’t have filed away for quick retrieval. An answer that actually stirs my desire for wanderlust and fills me with excitement.

So let’s try this again. Morocco: because I have spent over 95% of my life inside this tiny red circle, and the world is so much broader than that.

In an age where we have the world in our pocket, it’s easy to discover new places and cultures, see the wonders of the world, or read a local newspaper from halfway around the globe. It’s all standardised, sanitized, coming at us through a 4-inch screen.

The internet has made our world smaller and more accessible, but the Earth is still here, as large and majestic and full of life as ever. And the daily rhythms of 7 billion people are hard to hear when you’re tucked away in one corner of the auditorium.

Sam Nabi Sam Nabi