Making Friends in Unexpected Places
If I had to describe Morocco in one word, that word would be "hectic".
You can't book a train in advance, you just go to the train station and hope for the best. Cab drivers yell at everyone on the street as they drive, stopping in the middle of the road to do so if they please. In the marketplace, the people selling things talk until you agree to buy something.
It was my first time in Africa, and the vibe was incredibly different than anything I'd experienced in Europe. Our train into Fes was more than an hour late, so we arrived at our hostel in the wee hours of the morning along with another group—who, oddly enough, was on our walking tour the next morning.
Leonarda, Klara, and Marko are from Croatia. They won first prize in a contest that now gives them free flights through Europe, Northern Africa, and parts of Asia for the next year. That's how they wound up in Fes—they're spending the summer traveling before they head to New York, Hong Kong, and Poland, respectively, for the next several months. Nanci, a North Carolinian taking her time exploring Europe for the summer, was also on our tour. We got to know the four of them quite well as we walked through the Medina, checked out a tannery, smelled Moroccan spices, and came to understand the culture of Morocco.
At the end of the tour, we'd visited and gotten to know each other enough that Leonarda suggested we all go grab lunch together. What I've come to love in my two months of traveling is meeting new people and hearing their stories. In fact, I'd argue that that's one of the most important parts of traveling and that if you aren't meeting people, you're not getting the best experience.
Everyone in our group kept talking about how they'd be traveling until they ran out of money and they only had so much. So I decided that paying for their meal might make just the slightest difference—might help them travel a bit longer, make it to one more place, or at the very least, it might just make their hectic day in Morocco a little less stressful. So when the check came around and I paid for it, Leonarda was so happy she almost began tearing up. They were so thankful—and being able to "Spread the Love" was fun with them because I know they'll pay it forward.
Here's our group at lunch. From left to right: Andi, myself, Sami, Klara, Marko, Nanci, and Leonarda.
Here we all are pooped after eating a huge Moroccan meal!
Later that day, we had to leave Fes, but not before connecting with everyone on social media to keep in touch. More and more, I'm coming to realize how crazy how one small act of kindness can turn into making international friendships.
Vanessa Daves is a recent college graduate and a RAKtivist who is spending three months traveling the world. Iris Telehealth is sponsoring her random acts of kindness throughout the summer in the places she travels. When she returns back to the United States in the fall, she will be marketing coordinator for Iris Telehealth. Learn more at iristelehealth.com/love.