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  • Writer's pictureJaden Faunteroy

A Comparative View of Fes, Morocco and the Capital City Rabat!

Rabat and Fes are two main attractions and cities in Morocco; though they are both characterized by their beautiful medina's, they differ greatly in a variety of aspects. I would describe Rabat as the political capital of Morocco whereas I deem Fes the historical capital. Moroccan traditions seem to thrive and seep through the walls of Fes and is held in the narrow cobblestone streets and the high walls of the medina. In retrospect, Rabat is overridden by people speaking French rather than Arabic and a medina that lacks the vibrance, ambiance, and pulsing energy of Fes’s medina which is replaced by a beautiful beach enjoyed by both locals and tourists. Living in Rabat for the past week felt like a glimpse into the modernity that Morocco’s government is aiming for and trying to enhance through their partnership with the United States.

While modernity is not always a bad thing, I relished in the comfort of tradition in Fez. PDA is far more acceptable in Rabat and people don’t dress nearly as conservatively either.

But one of the biggest things that Rabat offers that Fez lacks is a political sphere. Rabat has provided a well-rounded understanding of Morocco’s parliament, the right to protest that many practice contrary to popular belief and a personalized look into the US’s longest and most positive partnership. Visiting the US Embassy as well as meeting one of the King’s previous advisors and famous Moroccan writer were two of the best educational portions of this program. They furthered my academic and classroom understanding of the international relationships in Morocco, both with US and other countries, that I attained from the professors co-teaching one of my courses.

I have briefly explained the differences between the two cities, but one aspect that remained consistent amongst both was the welcoming and community/family-oriented nature of my host family. My host dad in Rabat called us his daughters, ensured we knew how to walk or taxi anywhere we desired, and in his retirement he and his friends started an organization to get wheelchairs for the elders in their community and help those in need. Our host mom travels every day to Salle to take care of her mother and our host brother helps us with our Arabic homework, watchs soccer with us, and engages in conversation every day even after working long shifts. As we depart Rabat for Egypt tomorrow, it saddens me that today is my last day staying with a host family, where we fully became a part of a Moroccan household and engaged in regular day-to-day activities. I will miss drinking tea and eating breakfast together when I return to Duke and dorm living and the familial aspects of Morocco that seeps into my daily interactions with citizens at all levels. Even as I sit here in a café, ten minutes

from my homestay, my waiter proceeds to ask about my nationality and then warmly welcomes me to Morocco. I have watching for an hour as he simultaneously serves myself and other customers with ease while playing and engaging with all the kids and babies seeking his attention. As I continue my summer travels to various countries, I am sure that no place will compare to Morocco.

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