Student Spotlight: Najla Hall

Programs for this blog post

Leadership & Service in Youth Development

Authored By:

Nihal Bouabida

Selam! My name is Najla Hall and I am a participant in the Mentoring Youth Program in Mohammedia, Morocco. This weekend the Mentoring Youth group and the Outdoor Leadership kids took a trip to Marrakech. Through this amazing experience I have compiled a list of things you will need if you plan to go as well. 

Complete Guide on what you’ll need for a trip to Marrakech:

Good Walking Shoes:  

Good walking shoes are a must when you are spending hours and hours walking through the crowded streets of Jamaa El Fna. The square is as large as it is intricate; you would need at least 3 hours just to walk around the half of it! On Friday, the first day we arrived in Marrakech, we were wandering around for hours. We went down alleyways of all different sizes with every inch of them covered with colorful shops and enthusiastic shopkeepers. And on Saturday and Sunday, we explored completely different roads and I’m sure there are many more that we have yet to discover. 

Good walking shoes also come in handy when touring the beautiful Bahia Palace. There were so many intricate designs and architecture around the palace so I couldn't help but look at every room. If you choose to go there, plan to spend at least 2 hours just walking around and staring at the architecture in amazement.  

Good shoes are also good when you’re dashing from a hotel door after ding-dong ditching. During the trip we had the opportunity to stay in a beautiful hotel and when a group of teens stay in the same hotel, it is to be expected to have a few doors ding-dong-ditched. 

Loose Clothing: 

One of the things about Marrakech is that you’re always burning calories from all the sweating you will do. The temperature is often above 100 degrees fahrenheit so make sure you bring loose, lightweight clothing so the few light breezes that grace the air can reach you. My group and I were close to hallucinating from the heat but appropriate clothings and frequent hanout shops to get water helped.

A Good Camera:

Of course, cameras never give anything justice but there are so many wonders in Marrakech, you can’t help but try to capture their beauty in a photograph. I tried to capture the orangish glow of the lanterns that looked like a path of a hundred fallen stars lining the streets of Jamaa eL Fna but the picture only captured a 5th of its beauty. When we visited Ourika to see an Amazigh tribe, I couldn't help but take a couple of hundred pictures of the majestic green mountains of Ourika. I took another hundred pictures of the sand colored camels that we had the opportunity to ride as well as the beautiful desert sand that they walked on. 

Bargaining Skills:  

Unless you want to leave Merrakech with an empty wallet, you must learn how to bargain with the cunning salesmen. During the trip, the group had lots of free time to shop Jamaa El Fna, which meant we had to bargain for everything we bought. Let me tell you nothing is more satisfying than walking away with something you only paid ½ of the asking price for.

An open mind:

There will be things you have never seen before in Marrakech and some of it may come off as strange but having an open mind will help you take in the full experience without judgment. The group had the chance to tour an Amazigh village. While I didn’t personally go, I heard from my peers that the Amazigh way of living was very different from what we are accustomed to in the USA so those who went had to detach from their judgment and take in the Amazigh culture as another way of living. In doing so, they grew as people and took another step towards being a global thinker and citizen. 

An appetite: 

From the moment we set foot in Marrakech we were met with delicious food. On friday, I had tasty, bright orange curry that was brimming with spice at a beautifully decorated restaurant. Later on, I got to taste the refreshing lemonade sold by an enthusiastic juice salesman in Jamaa El Fna. On Saturday, I had steaming hot meat kebabs at a mountain top restaurant. My favorite eating experience was when the Mentoring Youth group dressed up and went to a rooftop restaurant where I ate mouth watering chicken Tagine while listening to the steady beat of drums played by an in person band. The best part of the rooftop restaurant experience was when the band came over to our table and passed around a hat. Whoever had the hat had to get up and dance to the band. That night, we had delicious food while also judging people’s dance moves.

Good Friends: 

Marrakech was beautiful, but what made the trip amazing was the people I went there with. I had so much fun venturing the maze of Jamaa El Fna while laughing and teasing with the other program participants whom I now regard as close friends. We spent a lot of time in the van in order to get from place to place but there was never a dull moment. It was so much fun singing along to songs at the top of our lungs in the van on the way to attractions. Even when we were stationary at the hotel we had loads of fun at the pool and hanging out in each other’s rooms. 

I learned so much and had loads of fun on this excursion and I know you will too if you follow this Complete Guide on What You’ll Need for a Trip to Marrakech.