Morocco-Le premièr jour!
Arrived in Casa. Line for immigration was about an hour. Kind of melange, not really a line. Two men got in a heated yelling match about cutting. I wasn't afraid or threatened but it got intense. He was yelling profanities in English and then other people chastised him for not respecting the older man. I thought I heard a woman say, "He's American" possibly because the guy was speaking in English but I don't think he was American because of his accent.
Walked through customs no prob. A little skrewy locating the right baggage carousel for my flight but my bag was there no prob and I saw Dave, a fellow American, right away. Mostafa is very nice. He speaks no English so he and I talked in the car the entire way from Casa in French which was really fun.
I saw lots of squalor and poverty what I would consider run-down buildings but wondered hmmm as you arrive from JFK or LGA or drive through Queens don't you see the same thing with graffiti or run down buildings or garbage? Very different ride from Keflavik into Reykjavik though where it's all natural, clean and beautiful.
Met Steve DeRosa, the school director, real quick then got pizza of all things at a restaurant on the park. The school is looking good. Some areas are still being built but it's all modern and new and the classrooms look great. Spacious.
Bought some things at the grocery store known as Acima kind of like Monoprix in France and settled into the apt.
Slept fine in the single bed. Reminds me of college. I chose the bigger bedroom. :-)
Sheets blanket and pillow and a few items in the kitchen but no furniture for the salon like couch table chairs etc.
We have a small round dining table with four metal chairs so that's good. Fridge works and the place is clean seems just painted and cleaned. It's a spacious apt with two bedrooms and real nice sized living room once we get the place furnished.
So far so good in terms of it being relatively calm and quiet not a lot of traffic on my little street.
Call to prayer: 17h00
Breakfast at Cafe Le Paix w Dave. Omlette fromage cafe au lait du pain and little bowl of soup which I think might be grits or hominy? Le jus orange sans sucre. They add four cubes of sugar to your orange juice.
La=no in Arabic
Later on, I was nervous about the evening in terms of should I walk around? Where can I go for dinner? Is it ok as a woman to be walking around? How late is too late? Anyway I left the apt and got a coffee at the joint on the corner just to use the wifi. Then I departed and turned down the street and ended up at The Skipper restaurant. I guess it's a seafood place lol
The server was very nice of course and suggested la salade nicoise which ended up being huge so I have leftovers tonight. He spoke English and readily wanted to continue in English. We chatted a bit about my stay and he offered me his number if I need help with anything. Apparently Moroccans want to offer you their number and help you. It's their nature whether you're a man or woman.
Call to prayer 5h
L'Abonnement (masc) = subscription, when you want a phone "plan"
Morocco Day Trois
A lot Accomplished today!
Mostafa fixed the shower head and the stove situation.
Purchased stuff like slippers and food and staples for kitchen like butter and eggs and olive oil. Some items are totally cheap like a two liter bottle of water which was $0.35. In the USA that bottle would have been easily $2 or $3 or more?
Yet a bath towel at the store was $14. Go figure.
Made friends with a girl at Acima, Sokayda, who wants to learn English and will teach me Arabe.
Met nice ladies at Carrefour pharmacie too. Louba and Nadja.
Walked to beach and went through the parc which is awesome. Love that area right near the préfecture.
Met guy at beach who bought me mint tea and offered to give me free surfing lessons. Hmmm? He spoke English and I was able to ask him a few questions like are the seats with the parasol/umbrella free to use on the beach? Oui. I asked BC as I sat on the beach, a man approached me saying something about the parasol so maybe he detected I was a tourist and wanted money? I felt safe and fine all day but self conscious as I stick out as the only American, white woman at all. I see women with the head scarves and long robes and I see Arabe women in jeans and regular tops. But no white girls like me or British or even French.
Made dinner at home and my phone rang! It was Sokayda so we spoke in French a few mins and plan to meet on Monday.
"In a pinch" as they say...I moved the fabric shower curtain to the rod in the bedroom to cover my window for a little privacy and so I can keep the window open for air but subsequently got the floor all wet during my lukewarm trickling hot water shower. Lol. Tomorrow need shower curtain.
Ravir, je suis ravie = To delight, I am delighted
Salam alaycham = hello/greeting
Shukraan = thank you
Morocco Day Quatre
Ceremony at ALC
Very nice presentation. Met lovely people. Very gracious. All of them gave me their number and offered to help if I need anything in the country. Offered to take me traveling. Offered to host me and show me around. Very proud of their kid who speaks English. Can understand my French.
Spoke French for a long time with lots of people today young and old mixed with English. Met woman who offers French language lessons. Apparently the school offers both English and French so I'm in luck and will take lessons.
Took petit taxi to the mall where there's a big store like Wal Mart. Spent entirely too much time here but needed housewares like French press, can opener, shower curtain etc. and yoga mat which I got at Decathlon same sporting store as in Montpellier. All told $125, probably a steal compared to the USA.
Quick shower and need to crash as we're going early to Rabat for a training. Gotta catch train at 7h55 and am meeting Michael, new American teacher guy at about 7h20.
I have coffee here and yogurt and an egg then onto the gare. He speaks pretty good French and even Arabic and just a nice well traveled open guy.
I need to exercise!
Call to prayer 13h26
Call to prayer 20h40
Morocco Jour Cinq
Took an early morning train to Rabat. Super easy to get on ad figure out. The one way ticket was 28MAD which is $2.80. The ride was about 30 mins.
Rabat is the capital so on a Sunday morning was pretty quiet. We walked to the training center and grabbed a quick coffee beforehand.
Today I really felt like I was in Morocco despite having New York style pizza for lunch lol
Met about a dozen more fellow teachers who are all stationed around the country. We did some ice breaker games and get to know you. Met Emma from Portland, ME, Syracuse Uni grad. All of the teachers were either from the USA, Australia or New Zealand it was a long day but we covered a lot of ground about customs, safety, expectations, traveling etc. I now how an entire network of people I can connect with when traveling around the country. Emma just finished a two year Peace Corps stint.
Later a few of us traveled around Rabat with the three Moroccan buddies, native Moroccans who speak fluent English who are helping us acclimate. Rabat was amazing as we walked through the medina where the vendors are selling shoes, clothes, everything. Then we ended up at this beautiful overlook for the sunset where we had mint tea and almond pastries-quintessential Moroccan. A bunch of them decided to stay for a jazz concert and I wanted to head back so they got me to the train station and I navigated myself back to Mohammedia.
I supposed I was a little nervous but it was totally fine and I sat next to a nice man who spoke French to me the entire ride. In fact, he wanted to practice his English and all I had was my novel, Ruth Ozeki's "A Tale for the Time Being." So I opened up to a random page and he read aloud in English and then together we translated. It was so much fun and I realized how well I can translate (actually it's interpret as translate is written and interpret is spoke word).
Then I read aloud in French from my copy of Le Matin I had in my bag and he wade equally impressed with my French pronunciation. Moroccans find English kind of easy since many words have French origins. Still it's not too common to meet people on the street or in the stores who speak English. Even some folks ball at French and speak only Arabic. See pic above.
Call to prayer 19h55