Exploring contemporary Spanish and Moroccan attitudes and policies on immigration in a multi-cultural, historical context
Ceuta

Ceuta

These past few days I’ve been in the Spanish procterate of Ceuta. Technically a Spanish city, Ceuta resides on the continent of Africa provides a gateway for many migrants into European territory.I changed up my original travel plans because I met a girl named Sara at the conference who resides in Ceuta, and she offered to take me to there with her after the conference. I was so thankful to have her guiding me there, because the trip from Ifran was not easy. We encountered complex train schedules, angry taxi drivers, and the infamous border between Morocco and Spain.Ceuta was on my list of cities to visit during my Magellan Project because it serves as a perfect example of multiculturalism, and has a unique blend of the three main religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). Though Spain is a primarily Catholic country, Ceuta has a large population of Muslims, and it was interesting to see how citizens interacted with each other during Ramadan.During Ramadan Muslims fast during the day. Since Sara was Muslim, I participated in the fast with her, and was EXUBERANT whenever 9:30pm came around and Iftar began (Iftar marks whenever the fast can be broken). On average, we would stay out until 2am just eating. This resulted in me waking up around 2pm ready to explore, but this is the hour when the Spanish stores close for the siesta time, and the whole city is somewhat quiet. It was difficult to get the best of both worlds.^Photos from the city centerOne thing I found particularly interesting were the advertisements outside of a fútbol stadium.I can’t recall seeing any advertisements in the United States supporting inclusion or the end of racism, so it was enlightening to see this sort of promotion on public display.Probably the most enlightening thing I experienced on this trip though was the passage back into Morocco today. I hadn’t had to cross the border at daytime during the busy hours, and did not know what to expect. Surrounding the border on both sides are hundreds of people transporting goods between the two countries. I walked through the fenced lanes with women carrying bags stuffed with shirts, apple sauce containers, and even someone carrying a toaster. I’m not exactly sure what the legal situation is of such transportation, but I did see many people climbing over fences and often times running from the Spanish police.The crossing of borders was challenging, but it really opened my eyes up to the harsh reality that some Moroccans have to face everyday. Though it frightened me, I tried to take the experience with a grain of salt.

4 Comments

  1. Kenneth William Sherwood

    I’m curious to know more about your experience of observing Ramadan and how the family views an American in their midst. Was it assumed you would participate? Was it awkward?

    1. Clara Sherwood

      Kenneth,

      From my outsider perspective, I would say that Sara’s family was comfortable having an American in their midst. Nothing was assumed, and her family was very welcoming. Sure, there were some awkward exchanges due to language barriers, or the fact that I didn’t know how to eat a particular fruit they served, but they were very embracing. I did feel awkward a few times, but no more awkward than I would feel visiting a new friend’s American family on Thanksgiving.

  2. Beatrice Smith

    So articulate, I could feel the emotion of your visit to Ceuta, I am sure the friendship you have now with Sara will last thru the years, and you will see her again. Being able to celebrate a holiday with her, to experience with someone the Ramadan, not just to know that was what was being celebrated, I can only imagine, thank you for taking me along.

    The photos are amazing, I was so happy to open your site and see that you had written. My friend Darla had written this morning, saying she had not seen anything on your blog in a few days. I let her know you had written, she is enjoying your your travels.

    Be well, be safe, I love you…..

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