I am now at my host family’s house… my house for the next six weeks. I was placed with them because they speak French! They are actually related to my residential director. I got here around four or five PM, and had nothing to do but shoot the breeze with my host dad… in French. My conversational French skills are completely lacking. There’s something wrong with my brain’s ability to convert thoughts into words… I can write OK in french; I don’t know what’s my road block as far as speaking goes.
Luckily I can communicate OK. I can only imagine what Brynn is going through. She had two “easy” years of Arabic and her family doesn’t really speak English. She wasn’t that confident in her ability to speak, so I guess I’ll find out tomorrow how it went. Like I said I am having an OK time communicating but they probably think I’m super boring because I can never think of a reply to any questions until like 5 minutes later–by that time we have moved on.
A note on dinner… here they eat dinner REALLY LATE! Like, not until 9PM! Luckily lunch is always humongous so I don’t really get hungry until then anyway. They keep forcing food on me! I am going to gain like a zillion pounds over this trip. Gym membership here I come!
Also, I took the bus today, with Selema (host family’s daughter, 18 years old). Is it bad I feel more confident on a Moroccan bus than I do trying to navigate the San Diego bus system? Also, the bus is SO CHEAP– about 4 dirhams one way which is like… 50 cents? Nice.
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” Jack Kerouac
Our residential director has gotten to visit so many incredible places–not just Europe, but like the Galapagos Islands and such, for work. Hopefully I can get a job that lets me travel all over the world!
Its true–for as independent as I seem sometimes, I love me a good guided tour. Today after lunch we were led by a wonderful tour guide named Fatima to some of the most famous sites in Rabat. Fatima was awesome and hilarious! Like most people I have come into contact with, she speaks French and Arabic. She also speaks English and is married to a Japanese man. She said she is the only tour guide in Rabat speaks Japanese. If this is true she must get good work :)
Anyway we toured Chellah, which is the site of a fifth century Roman ruin and a fourteenth century Islamic ruin. Totally fascinating. The Roman ruin, she said is just likes ones you would actually find in Italy, with a forum, public baths, and the like. The Islamic ruin is just like madrassas you would see today.
After Chellah we toured the unfinished Hassan tower. When designed it was going to be 60m but the king died and construction was finished only at 44m tall. It was still beautiful! At the same place is a masoleum where there are two tombs of recent past kings.
Speaking of Kings, after Hassan tower we went to the palace–we were only allowed to go in because we were with a licensed, authorized tour guide. Very cool. Obviously we couldn’t go in the actual palace, but we got to walk up near it and take a picture.
Lastly we went to the Kasbah here in Rabat which is like a small city within a city with super narrow, twisty, turny roads. I am having a difficult time discerning the difference between roads, alleyways, and hallways. Actually I’m not even sure there is a real difference! Fatima told us lots of intresting things about that part of the city, like that its where artsy-types like to live, and its where a lot of old people move in so they can retire. From the outside, not only of the Kasbah itself but the buildings and doorways it seems like everything is super small and cramped but in reality once you get inside, things are quite spacious. It really is an optical illusion. And even though it may be hot outside, thick walls keep things cool inside. :)
Uploading things to Flickr is a little much for this internet to handle, but I managed to get up about 5 pictures this afternoon. Check them out to the right!