“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!
Flight three: Madrid to Casablanca: So, nice, finally I get a window seat, for the shortest leg of the journey–just an hour and a half. I tried to nap and I think i may have succeeded…. at this point the whole thing was a blur. I woke up in time to see us cross from Europe to Africa, seeing the familiar geography from the plane was actually really thrilling. At that point I thought we were close to landing but I was wrong–we flew over Morocco for what seemed like forever.
Casablanca: cut to Staci standing in line at the passport-checker-place (I am so tired right now the correct term is escaping me) FREAKING OUT because of an irrational fear that they for some reason wouldn’t let me in the country and I would just have to turn right around. My worries were exacerbated by the fact that the guy in front of me was getting hassled for some reason or another. Luckily there were no problems, I found my baggage, and I stepped out where someone from CIEE was supposed to be waiting for me–right? Wrong, nobody was there–no sign with my name on it, no nothing. I sat around and tried to look conspicuously lost and American in case someone decided to help me but no such luck. I made a couple laps around the terminal, changed a little bit of money, and sat some more. Like half an hour later (I thought waiting 30 min was a good amount of time) I bought a phone card and called the emergency contact for the program.
An English-speaking, chain smoking Moroccan guy (worked for the phone card place, I think–or was just friends with the guy at the phone card place) was SUPER helpful and without his help I might have lost it. Anyway long story short I got picked up, the CIEE guy had been waiting for me at the wrong terminal. I guess my plane got in at an unexpected gate.
Casablanca to Rabat: I got here by car, it took like an hour but really I dozed for a large part of the journey. I was awake enough to notice that Morocco is just as flat as Kansas and just as hot as Temecula. I also saw a ton of donkeys just chillin wherever they thought would be a good place to be. The houses and buildings along the road were actually pretty rustic, falling apart and whatnot, but I did see a lot of satellite dishes (for TV) the closer we got to Rabat. FINALLY I got to Rabat, checked into the hotel, called the parents and got some SLEEP!!