Until recently, I was never entertained by the idea of a home stay—regardless of the country. However, after putting my shy personality aside and spending two nights in a Moroccan home in Chefchaouen, I now understand why home stays are an experience many people choose to seek out. As I saw in Chefchaouen, Moroccans go above and beyond expectations as hosts. Here are five reasons why you should experience a Moroccan home stay:
1. You’ll Never Go Hungry
After arriving at our hosts’ humble abode, we were greeted with cups of steaming mint tea that were magically refilled every two minutes, and a plate of lemon cake that was shockingly replenished every time a piece was consumed. Dinner and breakfast the following two days were no different. There were three or four large plates everyone shared that contained a limitless amount of delicious food; this is perfect if you have a bottomless stomach.
2. You’ll Feel Like Family
After a long day of hiking the Akchour Waterfall in the Rif Valley, I came back to our hosts’ home exhausted, sore, and ready to curl up in bed. My neck was extremely rigid and swollen, to the point where I could barely turn it—this had become a regular occurrence since a group excursion in February, where it was mysteriously injured. My host mom noticed my discomfort and immediately brought out Voltarène, an anti-inflammatory gel with a strong rubbing alcohol odor. She sat there and massaged it into my neck as I drank my bottomless tea; this is the kind of treatment I would receive at home from my own mother.
3. Your Foreign Language Skills Will Improve
Our host family spoke several languages, but the host mom was a French teacher so she frequently spoke to us in French, testing the limits of our knowledge. What little Arabic we knew was also implemented in our speech; we were corrected when mistaken, praised when we were right, and taught some useful new phrases like bgit makla (I want food) and ma-fhmt-sh (I don’t understand).
4. You’ll Have A Real Moroccan Experience
After spending two days in the footsteps of our host, we had an inside look at the ordinary life of a Moroccan: an afternoon spent sipping tea in a café, a stroll through the medina, a grueling evening engaged in yelling matches about soccer. Be aware that some households turn their water off at night, so make sure to brush your teeth before 10:00 p.m., otherwise you might be out of luck; or in this case, out of water.
5. You’ll Cherish Your Memories Forever
Tangier is unlike anything I have ever experienced before, but staying in a dorm in the city can’t be compared to staying with a Moroccan family. You’ll always remember the warmth and kindness of your hosts, the sweet aroma of pumpkin wafting off the mountain of fluffy couscous, and the vibrant colors of mosaic tiles lining the walls and floors. Besides, how could you forget a home where you are immediately greeted with endless amounts of tea, and welcomed into the family as if it was your own?