Now we're in Rabat!
Trip Start Nov 29, 2009
14Trip End Dec 20, 2009
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Where I stayed
The first stop on our trip (after 11 hours in the air and 7 hours at airports) was the capital city of Morocco, our beloved Rabat. We received our bags, met up with Dr. Nagy to fill out paperwork for the hotel, and off we went into the grand taxi armed with dirhams. Immediately we decided to use the Arabic we had been learning in class and were able to greet our taxi driver, tell him we were students, and tell him we were from America. I thought we bonded, but he refused to give us change saying that it was enough. Welcome to Morocco!
After settling, Dr. Nagy asked Ellen, Christine and I to get 20 water bottles from the store. "Ashrin lmaa" asked Ellen. He stared blankly. “Ashrin” we point to the bottles
Next task was retrieving cash which turned out to be an adventure. I took out 2000 dirhams, about 260 USD. Brittany, who has been to Morocco before, was suddenly our local expert so we follow her into the medina of Rabat. From our hotel to the heart of the medina we experienced the transition from the ville nouvelle to the “old city.” During this walk we experienced the first of many accounts of getting attention from males, a few times taking advantage of the crowded medina to cop a feel. From the medina back to our hotel we were followed, or Griffin more specifically was, so we took a whirlwind way back and hopefully lost him before we slid into a back entrance to our hotel.
That night we ate at Le Clef and had the first of many tagines in Morocco. We had some meat, but it was mostly bones and fat surrounded in the familiar tagine taste
1 Dec – Rabat
We dove right into the swing of things heading to the Center for Cross Cultural Learning for our Darija, or colloquial Moroccan Arabic, lesson. The first part repeated a bit what we had already learned so the transition into the class was smooth. We learned how to introduce ourselves, ask for something, room items, and how to explain where things were. I think I only retained the first two.
Lunch was on our own so certainly an adventure. We found a grocery store and bought some water and snacks much more successfully than the previous day. “Khamsa?” she asked, indicating the five waters I picked up and “Shukran” to thank me after my purchase. We decided to just buy some khabz (bread) and have some of Anna’s nutella for lunch. Later we met back for a bus tour which was interesting but jet lag set in and… zzz.
The night ended with a stop in the Andalusian Gardens where we had mint tea. I fear we may have interrupted some romantic moments with some people! The Kasbah was beautiful, the entire area was lined in blue waist height. Anna was more or less attacked by a woman who put henna on her saying it was free
2 Dec - Rabat
The next morning we woke up, had our usual bread, laughing cow cheese, and apricot jam. On the way to class I took a photo of a beautiful gate in which a guard ran us down and made me delete the photo. Whoops! We had an extremely interesting lecture at the CCCL from Farah Cherif on “Gender Dynamics and Costumes in Morocco.” She explained the history of the country in terms of space sharing. Once in the city, women became proud to be protected enough to not have to leave their homes. Her own grandmother could count the times she had left the city!
The biggest thing I took out of the lecture was the history of how the hijab is viewed in Morocco. Women there began wearing the hijab to rebel against patriarchy and western values used by oppressive leaders. The hijab also states 'I am a human being, not a sex object’. It is a veil of enlightenment where God is replacing man. More and more it is becoming the norm. The other outfits she talked about are in my photos, members of our group got to wear them which made a really fun interactive lecture. I wore a hijab and several people commented on how I looked really good in it.
Afterward we met with some University students
3 Dec - Rabat
Our last day at the CCCL we had our last Arabic lesson as well as a lecture from Dr. Mohammed Kebib. During the day we took a side trek to the Chellah which are partially roman ruins as well as an Islamic burial ground. This was one of my favorite things to see because it was my first time seeing items that are so… old!
The night was extremely interesting. It was Frannie’s birthday, and we wanted to do something special. Andre has a friend in Morocco that went to University of Illinois at Chicago who happened to have a beach house. The whole group, save Sarah who was suffering from the Moroccan belly, packed into cars and headed out. . Anna nicknamed our driver FaSexy (his name was Fa-something) because he was quite attractive. FaSexy ran through red lights. “It wasn’t that red” he replied to our concerns. We certainly got a taste of Moroccan driving! At the beach house we met the host and his friends, ran on the beach, saw the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and ate fish. Two of the neighbors sat out on their patio playing on their drum and we danced along to the beat.