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03/10/2013

To Spain and Back

A couple of weekends ago, CIEE took us on a trip to northern Morocco. However, we wanted to see Tangier some for ourselves before all of the CIEE scheduling and program set in, so we set out a day early. We found a great hostel in the old medina and did some shopping around. We were able to explore some and then the next day got picked up by CIEE to see various cities in northern Morocco.

One of our stops that weekend, interestingly enough, was Spain. As American citizens we didn't need to get a visa to come to Morocco. We automatically can come and stay for three months. However, our program is four months long. So, to get around this, we simply took a (very) short trip to Spain. No, we didn't cross the Strait.

We stayed on the African continent.

You see, Ceuta is an interesting Spanish city.

Ceuta

We simply drove to the border, got out of the bus, handed over our passports, got them stamped, walked across and suddenly, we were in Spain. We hoped into taxis and I loved that I could communicated with ease. I tried to not to snicker at the unfamiliar accent. We walked around the downtown area and European architecture surrounded us.

We spent less than four hours in this Spanish city, yet we ate pork, spoke Spanish and felt like we were very much inside of Europe. They were even celebrating Carnaval while we were there, so we were able to enjoy a very festive city.

It was an odd sensation. We had just finished reading a book called Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits for one of our classes. It tells the story of four Moroccans who are desperate to cross the border into Spain.

It is the promise of a better life-- a new life. Though we were able to simply walk into Spain, many Moroccans will never see the city of Ceuta. They can't get the visa necessary to reach Spain. As we walked across the border, you could see armed guards stationed on the hills surrounding the city; they were definitely there to keep people out.

Yet our privilege, our blue passports, allowed us to walk into Spain and back... for three and a half hours. We spent the evening in Spain so that we wouldn't need to get visas, and so many can't ever visit because they can't get visas.

All in all, it was a cool experience. I enjoyed Ceuta. I loved speaking Spanish and I really enjoyed the city :)

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