Why We Do Not Want to Stay in Morocco

When I first came to Morocco nearly four years ago, it was love at first sight.  The weather was perfect, the people were friendly, the food was delicious, and every day was an adventure.

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Beautiful rock formations in Oualidia

I thought my husband and I might stay long-term, to keep taking advantage of Morocco’s beautiful diversity of cultures.  I was so much more in love with Morocco than any of my colleagues, most of which I thought would leave after a year or two.  But as it turns out, my close friends from my first year will probably stay significantly longer than I will.  Here’s why:

  • There are not many job options outside teaching, which is not my career.  I have also worked part-time in two NGOs, but both were pretty shockingly disorganized.  I don’t think I ever attended a meeting that didn’t start at least an hour late.
  • Getting a visa is a yearly challenge, especially for Africans.  My first year, my employer did everything for me, so I never even knew how difficult it was.  These past two years, I’ve had quite a bit of trouble renewing my visa due to unhelpfulness both from my new employer and from the staff at the prefecture.  And my husband has been working for almost three years on a student visa because his employer doesn’t want to pay the fees for a foreigner’s contract.
  • It’s just really hard to walk down the street.  I’m lucky enough to be able to walk to work, but feel so much less lucky when men comment on my clothes or appearance, or especially when they try to follow me.  It’s better when I walk with my husband, except on the occasions when people (men) yell racial slurs at us.  And then there are the broken sidewalks….
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A surprisingly well-organized slum

  • The rising culture of materialism is exhausting.  Like any fast-developing country, Morocco has become more and more focused on material wealth.  The thing to do on the weekends is to go shopping, and having a car has become a status symbol.  I struggle to explain to my students that I don’t have a car because I like to walk, not because I can’t afford one, that I don’t eat at the most expensive restaurants because I actually like to cook, and that I want to become a social worker because I genuinely find that profession fascinating, not because I got rejected from programs in technology or finance.  My idea of a good career is one that I find rewarding, not necessarily one that pays a lot of money.
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This guy probably gets his hair done in a salon every week.

There are things I love about Morocco too; the community I’ve found here, the opportunities I’ve had to meet new people and learn new languages, and the chance to experience another way of life.  The ocean in Casablanca is beautiful, the vegetables are always fresh, and my husband and I have wonderful friends.  But there’s a time for everything, and I really feel like it’s time to find a place to live with more trees than cars, even if it is somewhere with cold winters and no pomegranates.



4 thoughts on “Why We Do Not Want to Stay in Morocco

  1. I fell in love with Morocco during my vacation. Like Dorothy, I like the dry and hot weather, the beautiful architecture, art, the food, and the energy that reminds me of the country I was born. Living cost is relatively affordable, and people are charming.

    Yet, somethings do not feel right. My Moroccan friend took many photos in a rental car, and promised to take me for sight seeing. But just before I arrived in Morocco, he told me the car was stolen. What a coincidence!

    Due to Colonialism, There are significant Inferior complex among the Moroccans, and they project that inferiority towards other minorities. I saw many cases where innocent Asian women was yelled at while waiting to pay at the cafe, and they skip the Asians to serve others. Customer service is at its worst, inconsistent, and driven by bribery and tips.

    After spending considerable time in Morocco, I told myself to stop living in the Moroccan fantasy I built for myself, and simply take it as it is. Soak up the good and hope the bad will be gone once people grew out of poverty. I dreamed about living in Morocco , but now I want to live in a honest place.

    I am
    Dorothy, I always enjoyed reading your writting, light and true.

  2. I’m glad to see a new post. I have to remind myself that change is good and normal because I tend to be afraid of it. You’re in a new stage in life as part of a married couple, so your goals and priorities are changing. I remember being followed and hissed at by “men” when I visited Morocco years ago. Just an idea: have you looked into positions where you could work on programs for HIV/AIDS or malaria? I know UNICEF is quite active in Senegal, for example. It would be a way to use your teaching and social work expertise to make a difference in people’s lives. Best wishes,

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