I originally wrote this on day 28, but am now just putting it up on Day 36. But whatever.
I’m sort of bad about updating this here blog. I think it is difficult for me to gauge what exactly is interesting and what is erroneous. I’m trying to focus on having fun and getting the most out of my experience, which means that the internet is not really part of that. However, here I am. HI! I miss everybody! Also – if you’re reading this, I probably really miss you because we’re probably friends. Instead of a long thing explaining stuff, let me just give you some highlights. In these past 28 days I have made some friends, and they are listed below with their locations.
1. Mute man, Casablanca.
This man was fabulous. We got into Casablanca on Friday afternoon, which is key because we were with two girls who observe Shabbat pretty intensely, and no transactions could happen after sundown. So with this in mind, we went to try to check in at our hotel. We asked before we left if we needed our physical passports to go to Casablanca and were told no (it is only an hour or so away) but when we got there found out that our copies were not sufficient because they needed the number of the stamp on our passports from when we arrived in Morocco. So we were on the phone with our program director, trying to get her to stay at work so she could fax us copies of these pages. And so began the best hour ever which I like to refer to as “The Game of Arriving in Casablanca and Having to Find a Fax Machine Randomly at Almost Sunset during Ramadan.” We split up and started running through the streets, trying to find somewhere we could get a fax but they were all closed. That is, until I asked a security guard in some random store and he walked outside to look, and we happened upon the best man in the world. He was totally mute, but with some clicking he showed that he understood what was going on, and proceeded to lead us to a hidden cyber café that had a fax machine! Hallelujah! So he is my number one Moroccan friend. Of course, the hotel then told us that they had “filled our rooms” and there was all this drama because we had a boy with us (so haram) but we ended up staying at a fabulous cheap hotel. Fabulous fabulous fabulous. If anyone ever needs to stay in Casablanca, I can hook you up.
a. Related to this friend is the random street man who led our group of 26 to a random restaurant the night of my friend’s birthday, when our restaurant was randomly closed and
b. The Casablanca taxi driver who wanted to marry my friend so badly he gave us a taxi ride بلا الفلوس (for freeee)
2. Security guard, Souissi, Rabat
This relates to: rain. So I went up past the highest level of haram on the haramometer the other day when I came to school wearing a long white skirt and a tank top, covered with a scarf. “Not too haram,” you say? Well. . . I went on a walk. And on this walk, it began to rain. I should probably also mention that my underwear was pink striped. And… white gets see-through with rain. But then again, so did my scarf. Oh, and the tank top under my scarf? Too big, so it kept falling below my bra. So I’m with my friend, walking towards the archeology museum in the pouring rain, haram to the umpteenth degree. And we got lost. So we are walking around aimlessly, dripping wet and totally conspicuous, and we found this security guard. He had no idea what archeology was, however he did point us to the Museum of Modern Art. So, in the pouring rain, we entered the grounds. It’s really cool – it’s totally free, and there is a lot of art on the grounds as well, which was gorgeous in the rain. So my second friend is this man. . . that’s all.
3. Creepy archeology man, Souissi, Rabat
I really wish I had the picture to illustrate this story. I will put it up later. Basically, I was asked to return to this museum at night so I could drink Moroccan whiskey (read: mint tea), and if I came with my makeup done and perfume on I could take all of the jewelry in the case, because the man “loved women from the tips of their toes to their hair, and how they smell.” He kept explaining that he was like Bacchus, and kept stroking my arm. I cut that off when he tried to go for my necklace, and explained that I was engaged. But, was it to a white man with whom I’d have “beautiful blond children” or an African man who would “give me strong children who play sports”? The world may never know.
I can’t complain, because not only did I receive a free tour, but could take photos despite their being forbidden, and could touch anything I wanted. This included the nude statue, whose “equipment” I was urged to “touch, to familiarize myself.” He also took a picture with my friend (un-groped as of yet), saying that he and she together were “café au lait.” This was the funniest experience of my life, total invasion of personal space aside. He told me to bring my fiancé back next time I come, and I might actually have to find one just to do so. Mike Linshi – I based my fictional fiancé on you. Be proud; you were the model. Never forget.
4. Taxi drivers, all over Morocco
I’m starting to create really clever responses to sketchy men – who tend to drive taxis. I am jetting all over in taxis by myself, which makes for interesting rides and I need to bring the variety sometimes. However, I met this awesome man who was from Agadir in this cab ride, though, named Said, and he sort of cancelled out all of the taxi drivers who have told me that they are going to drive by my house often so that they can pick me up, and marry me.
5. Cool English guys, at a hostel in Marrakech. We had aller-ed over there for my friend’s 21st birthday, over the weekend when Ramadan became Eid al-Fitr (which means roughly celebration of breaking the fast), when every starts to eat again (!). So Marrakech usually has fabulous clubbing and stuff, but being that it was Ramadan and then a holiday, we ended up walking the city, meeting awesome people and just generally chilling at the hostel at night. We found a snack bar (aptly named “Snack Bar”) which we ate at probably like 10 times in four days. They had fabulous Tagine and Couscous for like, 25 Dh, which is $3 or $3.50, I think. And our hostel had this roof that looked over the sunset, and was high up enough so that at sunset, the calls the prayer from like 20 mosques all rose up at around the same time. It lasted for like 4 minutes, and was the most disjointed, hauntingly beautiful sound imaginable. One of my friends took a video – I’ll try to figure out how to post it. Of course, since I can’t actually even post pictures, I guess that day may never come.
6. Oh, Marrakech, where sketch meets cool. The square in Marrakech (Jama al-Fna, square of the dead) is a really interesting place. There are motorcycles going crazy all over the place, because cars are not allowed. And because it is so aggressively touristy, not only is everyone fluent in English, but they are also fluent in the ways of using male privilege to harass at will, in the way of both Morocco and the United States. And like, Eastern Europe. So yeah, a guy tried to punch me in the square. Some guys followed us on their motorcycles for quite some time. In order to get you to go to their shop, they would just come up and grab you. Or a bunch of men would surround you, and not let you pass. And if you ignored them they would yell at you with quite unkind words, but if you spoke to them that was even worse. It got really stressful, and it is even worse post-Ramadan.
But that’s okay, because Marrakech has men like Sidi Mohammed, which brings us to number seven.
7. Sidi Mohammed, or why I love to enter random shops and start up conversations. So we were wandering through the Kasbah in Marrakesh, which is like the old part, near the old palace. After a nice conversation and a lot of “Eid Mubaraks” with the security guards outside the palace (which we were not allowed to enter), I spotted a cloth-weaving machine, like a loom-ish thing in a shop. I really really wanted to go in, so I did, and asked the man if the shop was his, and if he made the cloth in it. He replied that he did, and he then not only let me take pictures, but also demonstrated how he made the cloth and let me video. Then he let us sit down, and not only gave us tea, but offered us couscous (which my friends couldn’t eat because it wasn’t kosher, but still) and then played us great music on his amazing sound system. In addition to being both a cloth and carpet maker (he had two different looms with two different functions in the shop) he also fixed old computers, and was a complete music nerd. So as we are sitting having the greatest discussion ever, his friend’s sister (?) comes in, with her adorable baby boy Yasir, and we begin to talk as well. So well over an hour later, as we are peacing out with really nicely bargained for cloth and with exchanged phone and emails (her name was either Elena or Miriam, but she asked for our picture first, and we are so totally going to chill someday), we took a great picture that I am not posting here, but that will be on facebook. It gave us seriously the best, most positive feeling, which is a nice lead-in to
8. Amin on the train. It’s a long story, but as I tooled around the streets of Marrakesh with my friend, we ended up missing our train which our friend had purchased for our whole group. So the 200 Dh we spent on first class sort of didn’t really carry over to the evening of the second biggest holiday weekend (and busiest travel day of the year, apparently) when we made it to the train station. After a lot of drama, and discussions with the chef du gare, we finally made it into a second class compartment where I was promptly abandoned by the not-so-carsick of us (read: everyone) because it was so freaking hot in the car, and cooler outside. Well… it was cooler. Then the next stop happened, and the train hallways were actually so full the rest of the people got stuck. So I was in this compartment drinking water and fell into this amazing conversation with two men – Amin and Abdl’Majeed. I got help with my Arabic homework, got lots of amazing advice on life, and also got to help Amin with his English. I have a standing invitation to go visit him in Mohammedia, which is sort of near Rabat, but I don’t know if I will take it. He was amazing, though, and really gives me faith in humanity.
So… that’s it. I wish that that list was clever – like, 12 days of Christmas. But instead, the (20) 8 Days of Morocco. On the first day of Morocco, Ramadan gave to me
An empty tummmyyyy.
On the second day of Morocco, my host family gave to me – milk with grenadine.
On the third day of Morocco, my school gave to me 1000000 useless rules.
On the fourth day of Morocco, my money gave to me, brokeeeeeenessss.
On the fifth day of Morocco, a man gave to me a tap on my jeans.
On the sixth day of Morocco, my Roro/Lulu gave to me a conversaaation.
On the seventh day of Morocco, I wrote my last blog post. I am not too good at this, probably because I can’t speak English anymore. I will make a note of this, and work on it. I hope life is good.
I would love some good old American gossip. Hear ye, hear ye.