Sunday, March 7, 2010

lazy sunday

coming off of a rough week I needed a good weekend. thankfully that is exactly what I got! the post excursion funk week is followed by midterms week, which is a pretty daunting schedule. but luckily this weekend broke things up very nicely. I would liken it to a white bread sandwich, very undesirable and dry, but saved by the tasty filling, dijon mustard with some nice prosciutto and high-quality provologne cheese maybe.

friday included arabic club, where we practice our skills on the center's terrace in a fun and low-key environment. Then came street sandwiches: ground beef spiced and flavorful with minced onion and tons of other flavors fried up with eggs, served in a little round of bread with optional american cheese slice. I would liken the beef and eggs to a Moroccan fried rice of sorts without the rice. the price: 5.50 dh, 6.50 with cheese. the funny/interesting part is that Rachid says that is expensive...hmm so much of life is about context and perspective.

next on the agenda was an excursion to Sale to find Cafe Artisana. it was our first trip across the river since our orientation bus tour (kinda sad right?) so it was much needed. Artisana is a hookah bar recommended to me by one of the SIT students, Will. We 8 took a pair of grand taxis there (40 dh each taxi=1 $/person) and settled in to a corner table. it was exactly what I wanted and exactly what I had pictured in my mind. the first floor of a large building full of tables, chairs, people, hookahs, and their smoke. oh also drinks (non-alcoholic of course). there was low lighting, and a stage in another corner with one man on a keyboard and another crooning parlor/piano bar music into a mic (in arabic of course) providing entertainment. no energy wasted on attempts at ornamentaion or sprucing up the place (besides the singer's). bare bones hookah and beverages, a good time practicing smoke rings and relaxing. not something I do every week, or want to for that matter, but certainly fun.

and the way home was fun too. As Will's host brother Hassan informed us when he found us in Artisana, you need to get the cell numbers of individual grand taxi drivers in order to ensure a ride home. we were stranded without even knowing it. we could have walked back, but that would have been probably 40 minutes or more at 9 pm, not the best idea. Hassan tried unsuccessfully to call a taxi for us, so then he helped us flag one down and negotiate a price. this all in the rain by the way. our ride home? a fire engine red benz taxi (all grand taxis are big old merecedes, usually white though), in the rain, with 8 americans crammed inside steaming up the windows and gettinig to know each other a bit better. we were a sight to see! and it was 80 dh, which means we each paid 20 dh round trip. not bad overall, I'd say.

Saturday I had a lazy morning reading and watching movies like Rocky and Collateral Damage (with da Governator!). oh the wonder's of mediocre American cinema. no I'm sorry, Rocky is a classic, the other one not so much. Sorry California. rain threatened beach plans at 2, but it let up enough for some much-needed frisbee tossing with Anthony, Aura, and Ciara, plus the entourage of 7 locals that accumulated around us. I like to think it was the white frisbee and not our white skin that attracted them, but who knows.

My friends went home to do homework (on a Saturday afternoon, I know, it is an outrage!), so I decided to explore the coast, something I've been meaning to do. I was definitely not heading home, that was for sure. it was a good time, just me, my rain coat, my camera, my frisbee, a light drizzle at times, and thoughts at work. It was not a beach that I was walking along, coast line is more appropriate. It was fun to explore some tide pools and climb rocks and observe coastal life at its best and worst. I observed all manner of beach activities over the course of 2 and a half hours: soccer matches, couples cuddling and kissing in semi-seclusion, one couple doing less wholesome things than kissing (I did not stop to investigate), men fishing, men drinking, men smoking, young men doing breakdance sort of moves (Alex thinks it might have been Capoeira, the Brazilian martial-arts dance), and a small settlement that I am forced to describe as a shanty town. lots to see on the coast line.

On my way back I got a doughnut for .70 dh and a glass of OJ for 3 dh. What an incredible snack it was! The doughnut guys laughed when I thought he said 7 dh for one doughnut (by now I know that would be way too much, even to charge a white person). I laughed in my head because that is about what you pay at Dunkin Donuts for a donut, 80 cents or so. Note the spelling difference. Because the donut you buy at Dunks, the highly processed morsel of ‘food’ made in a factory somewhere else, not where you are buying it, is a far cry from the nut of dough that I enjoyed, fresh and still hot from the oil, purchased from the man who made it, served without sugar (usually an option, though not at this stand; I didn’t need it though) to me on a loop of grass. Oh and I could have bought ten of them for the same price. Of course a donut tastes great; it is chock full of sugar, fat, and chemicals used to create any taste under the sun. but my doughnut on Saturday proved to me the merits of supporting local economies in favor of corporate profits. Too bad there are no doughnut guys like him in West Newbury. Maybe in Allston?

After lounging at home, enjoying The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a shower, and dinner, the evening’s plans fell into place nicely. Alex had done her own exploring that day, and she met a Congolese guy named Yannick who invited her and her friends to a club for dancing. He brought us to Yaqout, which was a name recommended to me over email by a Rabat program alum. According to Keith: “go to Yaqout, it's the coolest place in the city. Live music, cool atmosphere. It's on rue al-jazaa'ir (Algeria Street), behind a hotel (forget the name). If you find rhasta guys walking around the city, ask them.”

Well going there fulfilled all of his descriptions. It is by far the coolest place I have been to yet, and I think it will probably retain that status. A tastefully decorated night club in a pretty quite neighborhood, Yaqout costs 100dh entry on the weekends. That $10.50 gets one drink too, which is pretty good considering Fadoua says some clubs are 150 or 200 dh for entry+drink. The dance floor is pretty small, taking up the space in front of the band, which consisted of a reggae-style set of 4 or 5 men and one woman. They played in 30 or so minute sets, which were interspersed by music DJ’ed by one of the members. Great dancing, not just the stereotypical bumpin’ and grindin’ but all sorts of moves. Drinks were pricey after the freebie, but the atmosphere was worth every penny. I am even sore today, ha. Bed at 3:15 am, which is late for Boston and practically scandalous in Rabat.

Today has been less productive than I was planning, but it was worth it in light of the great time I had this weekend. Now its time to buckle down, study, and prepare for my 3 exams this week. The rest of the excursion updates will have to wait, sadly, but I will not forget. Peace and love and all that jazz.


  1. doughnut sounds good. a true nut of dough? but i think there's a lot of americans who don't subscribe to your views on dunkin donuts haha. there's a good doughnut place in ipswich, marty's donut land. they make them fresh daily

  2. Great post, as usual, JD. I look forward to sampling the doughnuts, and possibly also the night club!