Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tricks, trips, and tables

Once again, father time (why not mother? father time, mother earth, hmm) is up to no good. He is playing his mind tricks on me. Saturday marks the beginning of the 2010 BU Rabat excursion, a weeklong whirlwind tour of Morocco with the eight of us, plus our lovely RD Fadoua. I am very much excited, and I am looking forward to this trip with great pleasure and anticipation. Which of course means this week has felt like the longest one since we arrived; thus it is the case with time and how it seems to slow down when we look forward to something. Of course the opposite is true as well. When that deadline or dreaded day looms on the horizon, it seems to zoom towards us as if propelled through time fueled by our own displeasure.

We had an Excursion (I feel obligated to capitalize it) orientation yesterday, so now I can tell everyone where I will be for the next week:

1. First we head south to Marrakesh for one night, where we will see museums, shops, and the Jamma Lafna square with its live theater and dance performances.
2. Then we head southeast, stopping through Ouarzazate (the Moroccan ‘hollywood’ where films like Babel, Black Hawk Down, and others have been filmed) for lunch, to Zagora, known as the “gateway of the Sahara.” One night there, also lunch with a local nomadic Chief.
3. Then to Erg Lihoudi, the real desert I am told, for dunes, camel rides, turbans, and a night in tents after a fireside music performance (Gnawa I believe).
4. To Khoub, a town with 40 or 50 kasbahs (castles), for lunch, and then northeast to Rissani for one night on the way north to…
5. two nights in Fez! Complete with a tour of the oldest and most intact Arab medina (old city), seeing one of the oldest universities in the world, and a visit to a battered women’s association and shelter.
6. Then to the Roman ruins at Volubilis (known here as Walylee), after that lunch at Moulay Idriss.
7. North again to Chefchaouen, a small, lush, mountainous city with hippie-inclinations and good sights and hiking.
8. Finally on the road home, south to Rabat with a stop in Ouazazane for lunch on the way.
7 days, 7 nights, including 3 in the dessert, many miles and many pictures. I will let you all know how it goes!

Ok now some more assorted thoughts that I have been meaning to elaborate on.

Oh the Moroccan tea, it warms my soul, it lubricates my joints, it calms my belly, it enlivens my senses. I will miss it when I leave this wonderful place. Farida has already promised to buy me a small silver teapot to take back home with me, so I will have to buy a supply of tea to go with it. I have been instructed in its preparation too, though I do still need to practice.

Normally labelled Moroccan mint tea (they serve ‘Moroccan Mint Tea’ at Mike and Patty’s, for example), there are in fact many ways to serve it. Farida likes mint tea for the summer; she prefers it in the winter with an herb she calls ‘sheeba,’ the name of which I don’t know. I will get a picture or a translation I promise. She has also served tea infused with a mélange of herbs, which included sage, mint, oregano (I think, maybe thyme), and a couple of others. That might be my favorite so far, though the Moroccan mint tea is famous for a reason.

Tables: you miss them when you don’t have them. Some people love to spread out on their beds with books, computer, and papers. This is not for me. Even when I want to read a book for pleasure, I unconsciously tend to sit at a desk or table. If I am reading in my bed, it is usually late at night as I am drifting off. Just me, my book, and my thoughts.

But for homework, I really need a desk or a table to spread out. Everything is in front of me, I am sitting with a straight back, and I am comfortable. Not comfortable in the sense of stretching out in the horizontal direction, but comfortably uncomfortable. Hence the difficulty of getting quality study time accomplished while in my room here. But I have plenty of tables available to me at the center, and the library annex, and I have also commandeered the kitchen table at home on several occasions.

Rachid works hard to support his family. 6 days a week he is at Best Wishes for 8 hours, a popular pizza joint downtown (which I regret to say I have not eaten at yet, though I have tasted his homemade pizza: benin! ledied! Which means tasty in Darija and fus’ha), and three of those days he comes home at 11. Then on the side he works at weddings, which are often late night affairs in Morocco. He is usually home by 4 or 5 am (though he does not work the whole time). The weddings are maybe every other week, though more often in the summer because of increased demand. Anyway, the point is he works hard, harder than I do in many ways. It makes me feel silly complaining about pretty much anything when I see him come home from work sometimes because he looks so tired.

There is a group of students from the School for International Training, and when I say group I mean 55. Yeah. They arrived about 2 weeks after us, and lets just say the Medina got a little more crowded. But I cant act like I own the place, because I don’t. Its just easy to feel entitled when there are only 8 american students as opposed to 63.

Still no Casablanca update yet, sorry. The cyber café is closing down, perhaps I will get to it tomorrow. My friend Alex described it as “post-apocalyptic Miami.” I wouldn’t go that far, but I think she is correct in a way. I’ll let you marinate on that until I get around to writing my own description.

I love you all, and I will be thinking of you over the next week or so.

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