This fall I had my first opportunities to travel to my 5th continent, Africa, to present work my nonprofit is leading. But this post is about the fun stuff I got to do around the work stuff while in Morocco (September) and Ethiopia (November).
I first arrived to Casablanca, Morocco. With about 22 hours to spend in the city, my time was limited to eating delicious food and visiting the Hassan II Mosque. The Mosque is the largest in Morocco, holding 105,000 people for worship (25,000 inside and 80,000 outside), and the 13th largest in the world.
I can’t say I loved my visit to Casablanca, but it did remind me, as a public health professional, why road traffic accidents are so high on the global burden of disease. (So I guess that’s good?) I still laugh about getting into one taxi and, by force of habit, reaching for the seatbelt. The driver didn’t speak English and my French doesn’t extend beyond a few basic “getting around” and “eating” words, but he turned to me, shook his finger, and said, “No.” At first I’d thought he was telling me he wouldn’t take me to the destination I’d named. But he was happy to take me there, he just wasn’t going to do it if I insisted on putting on my seatbelt.
Arriving in Rabat was a welcome shift. The taxis were newer, cleaner, and used meters. The streets were wide and multiple times I saw workers out sweeping trash. There were even well-maintained sidewalks. It was a city I felt perfectly comfortable walking around in, even the time I walked myself well out of the way of my destination.
While in Rabat I visited the ruins of the medieval town, Chellah, Mohammed V’s tomb, the Hassan Tower, and the Medina Market.
The most frustrating part about my time in Morocco was that the government had limited the use of VoIP services, meaning Skype, WhatsApp and Google Hangouts were not an option for communication. That serves a bit of a problem when you’re both trying to keep in touch with work and your husband. But the amazing food helped ease some of that annoyance.
About two months later I headed off again for work, this time to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I had a chance to shop for the silver jewelry they’re famous for in Addis (and, if my finances had matched my desire, would have brought home a suitcase full). I also visited the underwhelming National Museum of Ethiopia, which houses the incredibly impressive remains of “Lucy.” Lucy, a famous early human ancestor, was a tree-dwelling australopithecine who lived ~3.2 million years ago.
I was thrilled to visit these two very different countries (plus, you know, the whole point of accomplishing productive work outcomes there, too) and look forward to continuing to explore this amazing world we live in. I just hope Dan can come with me next time!