Travel Talk | Religion and Respect


Welcome back to Wanderlusting, our guest author series in which we invite other intrepid travellers to share their most memorable travel moments.

This week I’m thrilled to introduce you to Talon and Tigger, 1 Dad and 1 kid on a quest to explore the world.

In this episode Talon talks about how travel has broadened his horizons and offered him the opportunity to take a step back and reconsider the world in which he lives. His piece serves to remind us that life is not always what it seems and our perceptions may not always be well informed.

So abandon all preconceived ideas of religion and respect and read on …


I’ve always been fairly open-minded when it comes to different cultures, even before I began slowly travelling the world with my young son just over 2 years ago. While living in the Caribbean for almost a year taught me how to slow down and relax more, I have to say Morocco gave me an even greater fondness for the simple life.

Morocco had always been a place I wanted to visit. It sounded so exotic. When we were offered the chance to do a house sit on an oasis in the southern region of this north African country, I absolutely couldn’t resist.

My son Tigger was game, so that made it easier.

We travelled slowly through Morocco by train and bus until we made it to the small town of Guelmim. The oasis was 15 km from there. Tigger had expected to see miles and miles of sand dunes, but the area reminded me of the Mojave Desert in the US.


religion and respect moroccoImage | The Grand Taxi

Every morning began with the sound of our rooster greeting the sun shortly before the call to prayer rang out from the nearby mosque. Our dog occasionally barked at something from his spot on the roof, and we could hear a neighbour’s donkey braying. The day rarely offered any other noises than these.

A couple of times a week, we would pile into a stuffed shared taxi or board the even more crowded local mini bus to head into town. We were always the only non-Moroccans and were, thus, quite the curiosity.

Women were particularly interested in observing us because my son and I are quite affectionate and playful whereas it is not common to see a father playing with his child in his public. Especially not on the bus. And we never saw a parent tickling their child. The ladies would openly laugh at us and chatter with each other in the local dialect.

While going into town to get groceries could be a tiring endeavour, I often really enjoyed it. This is where I got to have a slice of local life.


religion and respect moroccoImage | Local Vendors Selling Their Produce

It was always a half-day enterprise that included waiting time for a taxi or bus to leave the oasis as well as for the return trip. Supermarkets don’t carry fresh foods. This is where you go for sundries, pasta, and things of that nature. Produce is obtained from the local vendors, meat from the butchers, chicken from the poulterer, and bread was bought from a guy selling from his cart.

We would alternate breakfast and lunch at our favourite places on each trip, and the owner of the chicken restaurant knew us by name. I knew we had become a small part of the community when Tigger had inadvertently left a small toy behind, and the owner remembered when he saw us a couple of weeks later.

One of the things I consistently dealt with in Morocco was my distaste for how women were expected to cover up. While it is considered optional in this Muslim country, most women outside of large cities cover everything but their face. I always felt it was such a misogynistic practice.

One day we were having a discussion with the handyman. I was seething as he told me how women are required to see a doctor and get their virginity certified before they can marry. Some women scrimp and save to have surgery that will make them appear to be a virgin when they are examined.


religion and respect moroccoCredit | fotopedia CC See Wah

When our conversation shifted to his experiences in Europe, I was forced to look at my feelings again. He was saddened by how disrespectfully women are treated in Europe. He seems them being objectified and sexualized.

I was instantly reminded of a discussion I had with the Swedish owners of the house we were caring for where she said that men in businesses treat her with far greater respect than when she is in Spain. There she is ignored as “a dumb woman,” but in Morocco she is listened to and treated with respect.

Later I spoke with a French woman who had travelled the world and later converted to Islam and settled down in the oasis because “Islam was the only religion that treated me with respect.”

It was a discussion that has stayed with me for close to a year. After this talk, I viewed the covered women with a different eye.

While I still wrestle with how some Muslim women are treated, I am forced to look at my native culture’s treatment as well. Western and European culture certainly has its own blemishes in that regard.

This is what I love about travel, and these experiences are what keep me moving from place to place, culture to culture.

When we leave ourselves open to be taught, the world readily provides the lessons. Travel has the power to transform. Not only us, but the world.

If we’ll let it.

✈ ✈ ✈

Has travel opened your eyes to a new perspective, made you reconsider or changed your view of the world? Share your comments with me below.

  1. Great post Talon! That handyman seemed to have a bit of a wrong impression of how women in Europe are being treated. If he thinks that allowing them to do what they want, work where they want, wear what they want and not having to be mutilated for religious reasons, is a bad thing then this is quite saddening. I am all for religious freedom, and everybody should choose their own religion of course, but it really annoys me when some people are so narrow minded. Rant over! 🙂

    1. His comments were more centered around how women are objectified in Europe (and the US). He found that part to be very sad. In Morocco, women are not required to dress a certain way, can work, etc. The marriage piece is where the equality shifts, but women can also divorce their husband, and apparently in marriages women tend to be anything but quiet and demure.

  2. This is SUCH a fraught topic, isn’t it?

    Living in the Western world, I am not sure how objective I can be, but I am inclined to agree more with Tammy. There are plenty of problems in Western culture, but freedom of choice is not a bad thing in my view.

    1. Women in Morocco do have freedom of choice, however. It is not like many Muslim-dominated cultures. And men tend to respect women much more than European men do.

  3. I really enjoyed reading your post about Morocco, especially your reflections on gender and sexuality. Like some of the above comments have suggested, it’s hard to be objective as a westerner. It was nice to hear the voices of people who live there though!

    1. Thank you! Yes, it is VERY tough at times, especially given how the cultures are so different. Moroccan culture is much more respecftful and equal, but there are definitely pieces of the cultural treatment of women I have a hard time accepting.

  4. Thanks for your post. I agree with the ladies here. The world is far from being a fair place to women, especially in regions where patriarchal religion is dominant. In America for example, women’s rights have come a long way, but they are still not free from some degree of repression. They have only had the right to vote since 1920, they can ascend to high levels of office in public and private sector, but they generally still do not receive pay commensurate with their male counterparts. Morocco has been making improvements, and starting to distance their policy from hard line islamic dictates, but they are still regularly the subject of human rights concerns when it comes to gender. A quick google of Morocco human rights should reveal some of the dark aspects that might not have been obvious to you during your stay.

    I visited the country in 2008 and found it to be very interesting and wonderful in it’s way. My tour guide mentioned that everyone (born?) in Morocco is a Muslim by law, and he implied that he does not pray in the mosque or believe in it. I imagine that is the case with many in the country, just as it is the case with many people who frequent churches in the US.

    The most damning thing at the moment seems to be that a man can rape a young girl, and trade his rape sentence for her hand in marriage… which parents and the law seem willing to oblige in order to spare the girl’s “honor”. That is a HORRIFIC thing. Thanks to religion for crazy ideas like this.

    It makes it hard for me to be tolerant of religion. I know there are nice people in cultures like this. There are nice and not-so-nice people all over the world. The parents of the girl mentioned in the article might even be decent, loving people. But look what their beliefs made them do. And the law was going to allow it too. Law derived from the same source as Christianity and Judaism. I’m a person with spiritual pursuits and convictions. I am not a buddhist, but I find buddhist thought agreeable. They don’t treat women well in buddhist countries either… even the most enlightened people in the best of these countries as far as I know. In Myanmar, buddhists are killing muslims these days.

    It is important to try to understand people, see the good in them, help them to see the err of their ways, and encourage them to move toward the light.

    Thanks for your time.

    1. While I agree with much of what you say, I find the term “help them to see the err of their way” to be a majorly ethnocentric viewpoint. We don’t effect change effectively with that frame of mind.

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