The words “BLOG!!” have been staring at me from my to-do list for weeks now untouched. I have been kind of all over the place, literally and figuratively. As I work to write a post about my first week in Bolivia, where I am currently constantly out of breath at 3600m, I will share this email update I sent reflecting on my time in Morocco a week and a half ago.
I have been notably absent from these blog posts, demarked specifically by the fact that I just looked and my last email was from the first day in Morocco, tomorrow will be my last. Along with apologizing for the lack of contact I thought I could also share an update, partly because I love all of you and want to keep you in the loop and partly because this week has been the school work week from hell and I am procrastinating assignment number four.
It is hard to believe that in two days I will be headed to Bolivia (we have quite the flight path: Casablanca-Madrid 24hrs-Bogota-LaPaz). The way that time can fly and drag at the same time still befuddles me. There are moments when I am amazed at the time that has passed since I left home and other days where I count down the days until familiarity. There is something disorienting about never settling in a place but in another light a profound lesson to be learned about what it means to be present in a place (or lack thereof). I have not been in one city for longer than a week and a half thus far and won’t really be until I get back to Salem for school in January.
It has also been strange to not have seasons, I can’t imagine the rain and snow and changing colors you all have been feeling. It is almost as if I don’t experience autumn then I never really missed Halloween or upcoming Thanksgiving, time can’t pass. Alas, time gives no reverence to my ill-contrived fantasies. The landscape here in Morocco is beautiful, however unchanging and non-verdant. I love the architecture and pockets of gardens I am able to find that much more in contrast. I have been pressing various plants in the back of my journal so I hope U.S customs is lenient when I return.
It has been easy to compare Morocco to Vietnam given the direct transition, which has been both helpful and detrimental in different ways. I appreciate more the things that feel easier here, language is a big one for me, though I am by no means a darija (Moroccan Arabic) expert my French skills and the ease with which I am picking up some darija have made me a little more self-sufficient here. The call to prayer rings outs five times a day and there are moments lying in bed where I expect to open my eyes to see my room in Senegal. Many aspects of Muslim culture remind me of my time abroad there. It makes me miss deeply and feel profound gratitude to my family and friends in Sandiara. Though the street harassment has been of course annoying, it is not uncommon for people to think I am Moroccan. At the very least my ethnic ambiguity buys me enough time to walk past as they struggle to decide which language to call out to me in. My efforts to pick up darija and willingness to practice and engage with taxi drivers, shopkeepers, fruit sellers, etc, has graced me with many smiles, stories, laughs and free rides.
As many of you may know, I love to wander. Walking around a new (or old) place without a purpose other than to see and experience new things is my favorite way to pass time. Moroccan medinas prove to be suited for just this. The best time is the morning, the air is still cool and dust has yet to be kicked up into the air by the heavy traffic of the day. The medinas feel like they belong to those that walk its streets. Everyone is on their own little mission. People carry trays of freshly shaped bread to the neighborhood ovens. Bicycles outfitted with large lined baskets await the deliveries out from the bakery. Motorbikes whizz by occasionally, carrying people and market supplies. Donkeys take-five against the sides of the pathway awaiting their next journey. As I wander slowly it almost feels like I am watching a movie that I get to experience in person. There is a stillness, an honesty, a vibrancy to witnessing so much life that I am extracted from in my foreignness. I wish I could bottle the feeling up and re-watch it when I need to remember how inconsequential I and all my shit am (sorry grandma).
To give a more geographical overview of my time in Morocco:
We started in Casablanca, where we flew in, in fact at the same hotel I write this from now. We then went to Rabat for a week and a half where we were in homestays, the last weekend of which I went up north to the Blue City of Chefchaouen and briefly Tetuan. Post homestay the group traveled to Ben Smim a small village in the Atlas mountains for a week. Following that we had a five-day break which I spent in Fez, taking one day to hike around Ifrane. From there we traveled down to Agadir (the so-called Miami of Morocco, where I spent all my time getting school work done indoors, minus a great afternoon playing soccer on the beach) for a few days. From Agadir, we went to Marrakech and then back to Casablanca yesterday where we are now. Mind you this is while having class, lectures and site visits during the entire time.
As I think will continue to be a trend, the busy-ness of the program, in culmination with my lack of diligence in journaling have left me relatively un-processed as to my time here. I know there is much I have experienced and have yet to feel or have sink in. I think and hope that time will help…
Here is to hoping I check-in, write, get things done, etc. more frequently from here on out (no promises),