Last February I was part of the “Crossing borders for a healthy lifestyle” exchange in the city of Marrakech. The exchange brings us together young people from Spain, Russia, France, Italy and Morocco to learn about habits to lead a healthier life.

During the week of the project, we shared our knowledge on the subject. We share with the others what measures were applied by our countries on the issue; through tools and techniques that we know about non-formal education we create a funny and dynamic environment to realize about how our lifestyle is like and what can we do to change it for better. Every morning we shared a mini session of dance or physical exercise to awaken the body and mind and get fully into the rest of the activities that required a body in motion and conciuos mind ready to create with our partners.

We were also lucky to enjoy the delicious Moroccan cuisine; we were able to taste a variety of complete dishes where meat or fish and vegetables had a leading role, in addition to discover that all the dishes were accompanied by delicious spices that gave a touch of color and flavour to everything we ate. Without a doubt arab cuisine is complete, varied, full of nutrients where you can taste healthy and enormously tasty foods.

In addition, I was lucky to enjoy an afternoon in a hammam; typical traditional arabic bath. The women come there (the women’s hammams are separated from the men’s), after a long day working and dedicate to caring for their bodies through steam baths, cleaning with gloves to remove dead skin, massages with oils and creams. … but above all it is a meeting place with other women to share how the day has gone, how is the family and different topics that perhaps, due to the fast and busy city lifestyle, have no time to share outside the hammams. Women in Marrakech place great importance on taking care of themselves by going to the hammams and they can spend there between 2 and 3 hours, 1 to 3 days a week. The practice of going to these baths to take care of the body and mind seemed wonderful and enviable (in Spain we do not have places like this except for spas but it has nothing to do with it).

On personal level, this exchange has helped me to put into practice my knowledge on mentoring and group management since I have been one of the group leaders of the spanish team. Sometimes it wasn’t an easy task because trying to coordinate not only your team but promoting the involvement of all the participants became exhausting but it was a task that I have really enjoyed. I have also learned new techniques for relaxing such as mindfulnes thanks to one of our colleagues that prepared some workshops for us to practice it. It was a very enriching experience and one that I hope I can put into practice in my daily life.

Eva Caceres (Spain)