Last year we connected with Ali Tamara from Morocco and set up a cultural exchange between skaters from Seattle and Sweden to capture the skate scene in Morocco. We flew out Kristin Ebeling, and Hollyanne Faber from Seattle to meet up with Lisa Kinderberg and Nina Troeng from Sweden. Lisa put together a great recap of the tour – here is the article’s complete text with photos.
Below is the full text.
Skating Morocco from Hollyanne Faber on Vimeo.
Morocco by Lisa Kindberg
Skateboarding is the best thing that ever happened to me. We have now been
together for more than a decade and my board has made me some amazing
friends from all over and taken me to so many places around the world. This time,
my board pointed its direction to Northern Africa and Morocco, to participate in the first girls skatetour made in this country. Even though it is changing every day, skateboarding is still a very male dominated activity. Morocco is a changing country, somewhere in between the modern and the traditional patriarchal society.
Going against the odds, there are a lot of girls who skateboard and live the lifestyle, throughout the whole world, even in Morocco. Through the Seattle based organization “Skate Like a Girl” (SLAG) and the “Tamara Shop” owner Ali Tamara from Agadir, this skateboarding tour took form. It was not going to be the typical skatetour where you go to film and get footage, but instead with the idea to inspire the younger generation in Morocco, especially girls. There were five of us; Kristin Ebeling, a ripper from Seattle where she works as a skate park director as well as volunteering for SLAG. Hollyann Faber, who grew up skating in Seattle but currently resides in LA where she is working as a photographer. Nina Troëng, who is possibly the most energetic and positive girl coming out of Sweden, never saying no to go skating. Lisa Kindberg, a photographer from Sweden, but after living in Barcelona many years, now travels around the world. Ali Tamara, who runs a local skateshop down in Agadir and frequently guides foreign skateboarders around Morocco.
Me (Lisa) and Nina landed in Casablanca late at night, where we were picked up by Ali and the other girls, who had arrived a day earlier. We drove straight to Marrakech where the adventure began the next day with a quick stroll through the market. Fahd, friend of Ali, showed us the way. When he had to walk 20 metres in front of us to not raise suspicion to the police, thinking that he might be ripping us tourists off, it was the first hit of culture difference and we tried our best to follow him discretly in the teeming center. When we reached the car we started our journey towards the desert, through the Atlas mountains. After driving for some hours, we stopped for a break. Before everyone had finished their coffee, Nina was already on the road doing 360 flips in a curve where both trucks, cars and flocks of sheeps were passing by. It didn’t take long before the shepherd, the 5 year old kid from the coffeeshop and his parents were involved with this new activity that we foreign girls were doing. As we continued we saw kids walking along the roads, coming from school. Backed up with a big bag of studying material, we took turns in giving them a pen and saying “kraum mazayn”, which means “study well” in Darija. The poverty on the countryside of Morocco is quite high, and to see someone getting so excited over a pen, made me reflect over how much I take material things for granted in my life. While driving around we found some spots, but either we got kicked out or it turned out to be unskateable.
Our next stop was Ouarzazzet, “The door of the desert”. It’s a dusty town in the
south of the high Atlas mountains, with the desert on the other side. There were
some locals that joined us to skate in the town center. It didn’t take long before a
lot of kids, and elders, were sitting around us and watching us skate. Some of the
kids wanted to try while others were too shy. Most girls were in the background
while some came up and gave us high fives.
We then continued to Zagora, our last stop before the desert. We had our first
experience of the Moroccan way of making business; no fixed prices and a lot of
bargaining. Since you don’t really speak the same language, you have a piece of
paper to pass back and forth where each writes down their price. We came out of
the shop, where we entered just to have some tea, with a turban on the head and
some nomad jewelry. Later on, while we were doing some flatskating on the
street, two guys around the age of 14 came up and offered 2000 camels for any
of us four girls. We thought about it, camels are actually quite valuable so it was a
good price, but in the end we all declined.
We were heading out to Sahara and after a bumpy ride out to the sand dunes, we
were welcomed with an unusually windy afternoon and were all happy for the
turbans, now realizing its purpose. We slept in tents between the dunes. At night,
you were overwhelmed by the pitch black sky filled with glimmering stars, which
gave siloutte to the dunes. You stood in complete silence, except for the wind, just
looking around you and saw star after star falling. Feeling so small, at the same
time so amazingly big and part of everything. It was an extraordinary nature experience where you could feel the earth and the power of nature.
The next day, after riding the dromedars in the sunset and having our tea, we headed back to society. We drove to Agadir, where Ali runs his skateshop, and Taghazout, which for many years has been a world known village for surfers.
We went to go skate with the two local girls Wafa and Faiza. The skatepark was really rough with big obstacles and full of holes in the ground.While talking to the girls they told me that there are very few girls that skateboard in Morocco, only three in Agadir for example. Generally girls see it as risky, but more and more are accepting this new sport and are not afraid to start. The biggest difference they said about skateboarding in Morocco vs a western country would be the way people look at you. It is looked upon as bad for a girl to go skateboarding and that it is considered a child’s toy, but most of the time they didn’t have any problem with people around them. Since they live in a period of change, where the younger generation is being influenced by the west, skateboarding among that, can cause conflict with the elders. Society don’t really support female skateboarding, but the other guys that skated were very supportive. I also felt that, everywhere we went, the other local skaters welcomed us.
After Agadir we spend one night in beautiful Essaouira. We stopped by an old
Berber town, where they had traditional berber houses and pottery, and two men
painted our hands with henna. Later on we got the chance to enter a factory of the
famous Argan oil, which was produced by only women. Much of the argan oil produced today is made by womens co-operative, providing them an income and
Next up was El Jadida. We were to be part of a GME (Global Exchange Meeting)
and the original idea was that Kristin would have a presentation about female
skateboarding and leadership. Due to miscommunication etc, that never happened. Here we experienced the unorganized part of Morocco, which for a westerner can drive you crazy. Or just relax and don’t stress. We found ourselves part of this event, where we half of the time just go skate. From seeing the extreme poverty on the countryside, we now experienced the other side of the coin of Morocco’s big gap of social class. It was strange to one day be surrounded with people that were living in a stonehouse with hardly anything and the next day with the upperclass and go out clubbing at a five-star hotel, visiting the parliament and eating luxurous buffets. In Morocco it is all about who you know, and just for being a foreigner you can get free passes.
After six days around Morocco we arrived at our final destination; Rabat. This trip was intense, but amazing. Not only from a skateboarding point of view, but
as a lesson in life. Experience a different culture changes your perception and opens up your mind and heart. By meeting these girls and skating around
Morocco made me reminisce about when I started skateboarding over ten years ago. At that time there were very few girls who skated, and it wasn’t being accepted by the society the same way it is today. By the time, the number of girlskaters have increased and with it friendships, camps and activities. Today, female skateboarders take a natural part in the skateboarding scene in Sweden. I am sure that within a few years, there will be a lot more girlskaters from Morocco and that area. Hopefully skateboarding can give them a chance to travel abroad and experience new cultures the same way that it gave me the opportunity with this trip. Chokran bissef.