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Morocco Easter field trip

Morocco Easter field trip

It may seem an obvious point, but perhaps it is the point: Morocco was different. From the hustle and bustle and barter of the souks of Asni and Marrakesh, to the majesty of the High Atlas Mountains and their snow-capped peaks and terraced slopes, the culture and scenery continuously enticed the senses (and, yes, the brain). And whilst many of us had been what we thought was all over the place in gap years, few had touched this corner of Northern Africa. For those who hadn't been graced by the much extolled blessing of a gap year, this was an experience to silence the boasters!

The field trip was also a fantastic chance to try out our nascent research skills. Supervisions and lectures can be hugely rewarding and engaging, but you got the feeling here that this was the real McCoy, a taste of the frontline of academic study. After testing the waters (and some very questionable GCSE French) in Asni market, we moved on to the High Atlas Mountains to develop and carry out our projects.

Interviewing locals in groups with the help of guides gave an insight into both the lives of the indigenous Berber people and the challenges and rewards of research. One of the most interesting parts of the trip was hearing from projects on a diverse range of topics: the changing nature of Islam, irrigation management, communications technology, gender and work, cultural heritage, and more.

As with many experiences the little things really count: mint tea on a sun-soaked terrace, throwing buckets of freezing cold water in a hammam (Moroccan communal bath), playing with a guide's mischievous grandson... I could go on - and indeed am going on - so I'll stop here. But in conclusion? Different, challenging, rewarding, fascinating - and above all, fun.

Paul Bowman

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