Archive | April, 2011

Patience, young (old and in-between) grasshoppers.

26 Apr

I am yet again sick. With a cold. Apparently, in my last month (as of today, actually) in Morocco, my immune system has decided to just not do its job. Inconsiderate.

Anyway, later today, inshallah, I’ll post up my pictures from Marrakech, where the AMIDEAST program went this weekend. I don’t have as many pictures as  I could have, due to a number of factors:

1. I was sick for the entire weekend, so wasn’t really up for doing much picture taking (or much of anything, actually).

2. The weather in Marrakech was rather unpleasant. Raining, cold, sometimes windy…yeah.

3. Marakech is the tourist hotspot of Morocco. So, there’s a pretty good chance that when you try to take a picture of something, someone will ask you for money.

But I will post what I have, soon! Until then!

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Quick Memory

19 Apr

Random memory from high school: When our psychology teacher ran out of things to teach us/didn’t feel like teaching that day, he’d pop in a DVD and say, “Watch from a psychoanalytical perspective”.

In other words, we’d watch Romeo+Juliet, Forrest Gump, etc. I would have almost believed him about the “analyze it” bit, except for he always gave us popcorn and snacks.

Today we’re watching a film in my gender studies class. Since I feel like this program is a weird version of high school, I’d really like it if we got some popcorn.

Probably won’t happen.

The Wonder of the World

17 Apr

Today was a day we’ll firmly place in “memorable experiences”. Thank you, Macarena, for letting me tag along on this adventure (even though you got cranky at the end haha, calm down you got a date with a hot Dutch guy).

Today Macarena and I went to the consul of Peru’s house and went swimming in her gorgeous infinity pool with her kids and had a delicious lunch. That alone sounds like a nice day, right? Swim in a pool, lounge in the sun, eat a fresh, delicious lunch, play with the cute dog Barto, have people speak in Spanish at me (which I’ve learned I can actually follow pretty well, much like French, but I can’t speak it at all).

We then all loaded up into the consul’s car and headed to the Peruvian embassy to meet up with the Peruvian ambassador and about half of the Peruvians that live in Morocco. We then preceded to drive to Sale (across the river from Rabat) to go to the opening of the first Peruvian restaurant in North Africa. We went from good day to great day, right there. The governor of Sale was there, as well as 70% of all the Peruvians in Morocco (which is about 30). However, they did have a guy dressed up in a chicken costume (it’s a Peruvian chicken place) and I was not okay with this. Macarena got pecked by him and he tried to steal my delicious Peruvian chicken. Oh, he got smacked down on that one.

After staying at the restaurant for a few hours, we loaded up in the car again and drove to the Oudaya (kasbah) in Rabat to go to a party for the daughter of  a friend of the consul’s. Everyone was speaking either French or Spanish, but the French kids were very cool.

Oh, and the view from their house? Amazing.

Today I kissed more people’s cheeks than I care to count. Today I ate real Peruvian chicken in one of the two places in Africa you can get it. Today I chatted with the consul to Peru. Today I watched the sunset from the top of a house built hundreds of years ago, surrounded by people speaking in at least four different languages.

Today I wondered at how I came to be in such a place at such a time and how lucky I am to be living this life. The world, for all its many faults and obstacles, is filled with such amazing moments that everything else can be weathered to simply live in those moments of complete and astonishing awe and joy.

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The Alternate Universe

15 Apr

If life had gone as planned, my parents and brother would have been on their way to Egypt right now to come see me over my spring break at AUC.

Instead, I am in Morocco living with a family and my parents are going to England.

Instead, Egypt has been catapulted into complete unrest, with Mubarak gone, the military in charge, and no one knowing what will happen.

Instead, the entire Middle East and North Africa region are in turmoil and I can only stand on the street corner watching protests go by calling for a complete overhaul of the government and hear news from Libya, Yemen, Syria, and beyond.

Instead of riding a camel through the desert…wait, no, still did that here, so check that one off the list.

Instead of  LIVING in a desert I’m living in basically a North African California. …Yeah, that’s a bit weird (THERE ARE LOQUATS HERE. What?!)

Yet realizing that my parents were in that alternate universe heading to visit me makes me think of what my life could have been like. Obviously I’ll never know, but you have to imagine everything happens for a reason.

I mean, if nothing else, I’ve made some great friends here, seen some amazing things, and have actually figured out my life for the foreseeable future, through my summer, through my last semester of college, through the next few years. And I couldn’t be more excited for all I have planned!

Maybe if I had stayed in Egypt I would be very lost as to what my future would be. Maybe not. Who knows?

I’m glad I’m in Morocco. It may not have been what I wanted, and a lot may have been sacrificed by me being here, but I cannot imagine being anywhere else right now.

So, alternate universe where the revolution didn’t happen: alternate-Egyptian people, I’m sorry you’re still under Mubarak’s regime. Alternate-me, I hope you would one day make it to Morocco. You’d love it.

Merzouga and the Sand in my Pants

15 Apr

(Disregard the parenthetical statement immediately following this. I have gone back to feeling semi-healthy.) -4/15/2011

(Disregard the paragraph immediately following this. I have reverted back into dying mode.) -4/14/11

Good news! I’m not as dying anymore as I write this. I still have very little reserve energy (as in walking down the three flights of stairs in my apartment and walking the two blocks to school basically winds me), but I am not in a state of abject misery. Hazzah!

Last weekend a group of seven of us headed to southern Morocco for a camel trek. While getting there was hellacious (12 hours each way by combination of bus/train), it was worth it. Even getting this nasty parasite in stomach, christened Oscar the Grouchy Crocodile Stomach Bacteria, was worth it. Going into the Sahara desert was an unbelievable and definitely rejuvenating experience.

Thursday night at 6:30 everyone (Brittani, Lauren, Shama, Kate, Michelle, Sarah and I) met at the Agdal train station to catch our 7pm train to Meknes. The thing with trains in Morocco is that you aren’t guaranteed a seat, the whole thing smells, people stare at you funny no matter what you do and they don’t announce train stations so you have to pay attention otherwise there’s actually a good chance you will miss your stop. So after the three hour train ride, we hop off and then hop on our next leg of the journey: a bus. A bus ride that will last about nine hours. Allah have mercy. We all try to sleep (the bus is full and smelly, btw), but the bus is either top heavy or the road is very bumpy or both, because that thing was swinging and bouncing and swaying and all manner of not-sleep-inducing movements (no it was not like the steady lulling of a ship).
Six am rolls around (yay to making it in eight hours) and we arrive in the oh-so bustling town of Merzouga. Someone from our hotel picks us up and drives us the short distance to our hotel, explaining that breakfast will be served in a few minutes then we can go to our rooms and nap until noon for lunch.

We eat breakfast, and then all go to our rooms and crash. I room with Brittani and we first discuss random stuff, including dwarves. We wake up at noon, eat our tagine lunch and then decide to head into the town. ….Which is about as exciting as a cat sleeping.

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Our trek begins at 4pm. Getting on a camel is a little disconcerting, because their joints work in reverse to how human legs do. So, really, they go back legs up first then front and yeah, it’s a bit frightening. Good news: I got the blond camel. Renamed him Jack Donaghy because I love 30 Rock.

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Going into the desert was amazing. Rather than explain and have it interspersed with pictures, I’ll give you the basics of what we did and then let the pictures show you the rest. We trekked for about two hours the first day, stopping at an oasis right before sunset for tea. We then hiked through the dunes to our camp for the night. Dune hiking = hard work. We reach our camp, which is comprised of a shack and two tents for sleeping. The seven of us sit on a blanket as we watch the last of the day’s light fade over the Algerian border and the thousands upon thousands of stars come out. Eventually, we move into the shack and our guides play music (and learn I was never destined for percussions instruments) and eventually we eat a delicious tagine dinner. We all head to our tent, sleeping under blankets in complete darkness. In the morning, our guides wake us up at 6 am to watch the sunrise. We do, and while everyone else goes back to sleep for awhile, I hike back up to the top of the dunes, my own private sojourn and definitely my favorite part of the trip. Eventually, breakfast is served, I head back and we chill for a few hours, and then walk across the rocky plain to a Berber village for lunch and to wait out the hottest part of the day. We get back on our camels and trek back to the hotel. Our butts = very sore. We all take much needed showers, purchase our tickets home and then begin the LONG journey back to Rabat. Once again, nine hour bus, three hour train ride. We left Merzouga at 7pm, we got back to Rabat at 10 am. Long, long weekend. …I also got a nasty stomach bacteria because of it, but it was definitely a rejuvenating experience. Despite having gone to some of the most important churches in the world this semester (the St. Peter’s, the Sistine Chapel, the Hagia Sophia…), me sitting on my own on top of a sand dune in the middle of the Moroccan Sahara was a much more uplifting, soul-stirring experience than any of those. With that, pictures:

And that’s that. Now you are essentially caught up in the big things I’ve been doing in Morocco.

The Crocodile (Redux?)

14 Apr

I am now sitting in bed, once again feeling horrible.

Either Oscar the Grouchy Crocodile Stomach Bacteria is back, or his cousin the Ticking Crocodile Stomach Bacteria has decided to see this amazing place called “My Stomach” that his cousin kept mentioning.

Regardless, THIS SUCKS. Blergh.

But tomorrow: Post on Merzouga! Yaaaaaaaaaay! With pictures! Yaaaaayyy!

(I’m going to go crawl into a corner and die now.)

Tangier, Part Four of the Four Part Mini-Series

14 Apr

In yesterday’s episode of Tangier, Catherine and Macarena had a delicious (if funny looking) Spanish meal and prepared for their departure to Chefchaouen.

We then drove on to Chefchaouen through some beautiful landscapes.

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But Chefchaouen is AMAZING. A glorious little town built into the foothills of the mountains, painted all in blues and whites.

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Macarena, Brittany and I went exploring (shopping) and ended up in an artists’ studio for 7 hours, playing with Jolie the Dog, having dinner and tea with them (plus some definite vices I won’t talk about here).

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After getting back to our hotel at like midnight (yeah, we’re crazy cool kids, staying out late at artists’ studios) the next morning we had a medina/entire town of Chefchaouen tour. I want to go back; it is too nice to just leave for one viewing. We visited the Kasbah, which is basically a garden now, and then had lunch.

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And that’s all from that trip! Did a WHOLE lot of shopping though (bought genie pants, they are amazing.)


Tangier, Part Three of the Four Part Mini-Series

13 Apr

The next morning we got up and went for a medina tour with Dr. Peyron.

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A guy approached us and said if we’d like a surprise from Coca-Cola and because we’re slaves to corporate America we said yes. So we go to this big truck which starts playing music then rolls up a big window and has a big button. You push the button, something comes out of the window, either a flower, a bottle of Coke, or in Amelia’s case, a lei. Then we literally were pushed out of the way by Moroccan men and then had to sign waivers with the Coca-Cola company. In other words, in 5 months I may be in a Moroccan Coca-Cola commercial! WTF.

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We then did a medina tour…which was nice, Tangier’s medina is rather small.

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Macarena and I headed back to the ocean to relax (and have creepy guys stare at us. Oh, Morocco.)

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Then we went and got Spanish food. Since Tangier was a part of Spanish Morocco, not French, most people speak Spanish as their second language and Macarena was very happy about this (she even sleep-talked in Spanish while we were there).

I ate the fish. Bad choice.

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Stayed tuned for the thrilling conclusion of Tangier, where the adventure continues in Chefchaouen!

Tangier, Part Two of the Four Part Mini-Series

13 Apr

Previously on Tangier: The group heads to the Cave of Hercules for a quick rest stop, then depart, heading for Tangier and beyond!

We made it to Tangier and Tangier is basically a city built on hills that lead to the ocean/Strait of Gibraltar/Mediterranean Sea. I promptly get stuck inside the bathroom of Macarena and I’s hotel room for 10 minutes, in which at least 5 people try to get me out, but as soon as everyone leaves to go look for the man with the screwdriver, the door becomes unstuck and I get out. Oh, Morocco.

Macarena and I promptly make a break for the water.

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We reunite with our group to head to the American Legation, a former US consulate, the first piece of land given by a foreign sovereign to the US (Morocco was also the first nation to recognize the US as a country way back in 1781) and the first US Historic landmark outside of the US. In other words, a little bit of America, a little bit of Morocco – very nice.

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That night we meet up with some friends at Café Cinema Rif, and end up staying to go see the short films (a part of a festival) that were playing. It was awesome! Very cool café. But since I don’t speak French, some of the nuisances of the films were definitely lost on me. We then met up with all the girls and had sushi. Nom. Then went back, found everyone else drunk (Tangier is a big nightlife town) and Macarena and I decided collectively to not do that. Especially after heading back from sushi a drunk man/druggie fell down 4 flights of stairs in front of us.

Stayed tuned for the next installment of Tangier, where the exploration of Tangier continues, and Chefchaouen awaits!

We now interrupt

13 Apr

Your regularly scheduled update of Tangier with a small aside.

While I love being abroad and being in Morocco, there are many things I do not like or many things I miss.

I do not like any of my classes this semester. Any of them. So going to school is not a joy.

I do not like my Arabic professor’s bossiness.

I am getting tired of misunderstandings in regards to language.

I miss my friends.

I miss my family.

I miss living in my own apartment with just me and Sarah as roommates.

I miss my bike.

I miss going to the grocery store.

I miss APO.

 

I am trying not to be negative and I know there is so much here I am grateful for, but on certain days, it can take a single statement to remind me why in part I cannot wait to be back in the States (but at the same time can.)

That is all. Now back to your program.