Two Week Mark

Today marks the two week mark. Two more weeks of classes! That means seven more sessions of Arabic and three more sessions of the CORE class. I wonder where I will be with my Arabic abilities two weeks from now. I still have a hard time coming up with sentences (read: it takes me ages to organize and formulate my thoughts such that if I attempted to speak Arabic the listener would get bored, stop listening and walk away) but my penmanship is pretty good! Hey man, I take praise where I can get it. Madiha’s husband showed me a sweet program I can download that will do virtual flashcards for me so I don’t have to rip up half of my notebook to make actual flashcards, so yay, saving trees and saving me time. Plus I can just pull up the program here on my laptop whenever I have a spare moment. Vocabulary here I come!

Fish. This weekend (and today) I have had fish like five times. Chicken, please! Also I had paella yesterday but it didn’t live up to the memory of the one I had in Spain. Laaaame. Oh well, at least I am getting over my aversion to shrimp! As long as they aren’t cold I can eat ’em, and on some occasions, even enjoy them!

Lastly, my host family may or may not be getting tired of me. I mean, I would too, idk. Anyway the oldest daughter has never really seemed like a big fan since the first day she dragged me along to the medina (third wheel on a date with her secret boyfriend!) and it just seems like I’m in her way. Oh well, she can deal with it, she is just a moody teenager. I think the younger ones still like me–they are more fun anyway! Wait, you say, Staci getting along with children? I know, right?

Also, Morocco is doing terrible, horrible things to my hair and complexion. It is so dry lately! Almost makes me want to go back to the humid days of my first weeks here. Seriously its making my hair like straw. I hope it pulls through okay because I don’t want to have to chop too much of it off when I get home!

Still haven’t ridden a camel although there were some more at the beach yesterday. The quest continues!

4th of July

How does one celebrate the 4th of July in Morocco? Well, if we had planned better, there was a party at the embassy we could have gone to, but we didn’t RSVP with our passport information in time so that was out. It probably would have just been a bunch of 30-something year olds with their kids; I don’t really know how many Americans my age would have turned out. Later, I heard reports that there was Dr. Pepper there, which really would have made going worth it. C’est la vie.

How did I celebrate? I slept in until 11, had traditional Moroccan food for lunch, but for dessert we had watermelon! I always associate watermelon with the 4th in my mind as a result of church BBQs and seed spitting contests. Here in Morocco it’s a pretty standard follow-up to any meal, but the fact that it coincided with it being Independence Day was kind of cool.

I found this picture on Google.
I found this picture on Google.

Later I went to the beach with the family (5 hours) and made a playlist of songs on my iPod that reminded me of America (titles containing “America,” titles containing city names, songs I know were written about a certain city or region, etc etc). Really getting into this fourth of July thing, right?

After the beach we went over to the [extended] family’s house in Temara, a beach town south of Rabat. None of us (American students) are exactly sure who actually lives in this house, because at any given moment there are at least 20 people around, including craaazy kids who never seem to run out of energy. It really is an exciting place, and its quite a change from the small apartments (okay, my family’s apartment is actually quite big) that we are used to. Anyway Madiha’s [Madiha is my Residential Coordinator] sister and I taught the kids to play “duck duck goose” and well, we played for a good hour. It was funny hearing how they pronounced “duck” because the “uh” sound isn’t really used in Arabic so they didn’t know how to say it. The word kept coming out like “daak.”

After that, more traditional Moroccan food (fish that had literally just been stuck over a fire and roasted that way) and more watermelon! As much as I wanted to organize a seed spitting contest I refrained. I did help myself to three big pieces, though, as I thought of the good ole USA.

Fun Fact: Morocco was the first state to officially recognize the USA’s independence from Britain. Moroccans are very proud of this fact and will remind you at any given opportunity.

Viande Hachee and Calligraphy

So today I evaded an Arabic quiz, had a panini at one of our usual cafes called “Midnight Express” (great name, right?) and was pleased to discover that “viande hachee” (literally translated as, like, ground/minced beef) is delicious and the closest thing to carne asada that I’ve come into contact so far in Morocco. So far I had been playing the “chicken is a relatively safe choice” game but my risk-taking was rewarded today with a delicious taste sensation.

Speaking of food, someone told Brynn that camel meat is delicious. I’m not sure I want to find out.

Later, we returned to school because we were supposed to have calligraphy class. I call it my “weekly dose of positive affirmation” because, well, I am good at it. Our instructor is heavy on the praise and it does wonders to restore my morale which has been systematically chipped away at by my Arabic teacher throughout the week. But, sadly, our instructor (who Pete and Brynn insist is a clone of Rasputin, and I admit I see some resemblance) stood us up! Therefore I missed my weekly dose of positive affirmation but I did get to come home and take a nap… very delightful… and finish Vonnegut’s Bluebeard. Highly reccomended.

See? Everyday life in Rabat is just like like life in the USA. Boring. Only without the wide variety of food choices!

Also, I forgot to mention! Last night, right before I was about to go to bed, I heard some big-band music coming from the TV in the living room and then muffled talking that sounded like it could be English. I am getting kind of good at identifying what language the TV in there is speaking in. Anyway, I wandered out and was extremely pleased to see my ole pal David Letterman on TV (ENGLISH!) interviewing my other ole pal Michael J Fox! Needless to say it was a GREAT moment for me to see something on TV in a language I could understand–the bonus being MJF who I looooove. Haha. He was talking about his trip to Bhutan and the fact that the Bhutanese measure their country’s prosperity not only in GDP but in GNH… that’s right, Gross National Happiness. True facts.