Shopping Day

Finally got all my gifts bought...
Finally got all my gifts bought...

I got all my souvenir shopping done today–I waited until the end so I would have a good idea of fair prices and wouldn’t go overboard. The first week everything was so new and exciting, I would have spent three times as much on dumb stuff. So I’m pretty pleased with my purchases. I was careful not to get heavy stuff because I am really concerned about going over my suitcase’s weight limit from Rome to Paris. Everything should work out though!

Also, I took the bus to the school today because we were all meeing there… I’m glad my host dad drove me to school this whole time because it took like an hour. 15 minutes is much better.

Religion

This is kind of a re-hash of one of the prompts I had to write on today for my CORE final…

It is amazing how pervasive Islam is in the everyday life of Moroccans. One of the first things I noticed when I got here was the five-times-daily call to prayer. Every neighborhood has a mosque with a minaret, and each minaret has loudspeakers that broadcast the call to prayer once in the morning (4:30!) and four times throughout the afternoon/evening. In a Western country you just wouldn’t see this happening–for any religion. Maybe they used to do the church bell thing back in the last century.

Also–Brynn, Pete and I were talking about this yesterday at lunch–there is a much more relaxed atmosphere and people seem to get along with each other well. One of the pillars of Islam is giving to the poor, and they do. The streets of the medina are filled with the poor and handicapped, and instead of seeing them as a nuisance or a burden on society, most Moroccans I’ve spent any considerable amount of time with give them each a few dirhams.

Another thing is the way that religious talk prevades everyday conversation. There’s kind of a joke among Arabic learners that all you have to learn is “Hamdu-Lillah” (praise God) and “Insh’allah” (God willing) and you’re set to reply to any question you could possibly asked. In the US these kinds of phrases aren’t really used in everyday language except for the very religious or the (it could be said) “hokey” country folk (you know the stereotype I’m talking about). Here it is not only acceptable but expected. The answer to “How are you today?” is “Praise God,” because one should praise God regardless of whether they’re having a good or bad day. Interesting perspective and one I feel like I should work on having…

Lastly, there comes the idea of submission or being content with one’s lot. In America, there is a relative gain mentality. Being second is not acceptable. If your neighbor gets a new 2009 car, you need to 2010 model. Here, they really do subscribe to the idea of “God willing.” This isn’t to say that people don’t have goals or try to reach them, but they have the idea that they should be content regardless. Also something Americans (Christians especially) could focus on a little. I know I am going to try to adopt this perspective from now on.

Basically, these people put the majority of people who call themselves Christian to shame!

My Bus Station Friend

Arabic yesterday was just abysmal. I am so grateful that today is my last session (except for the final tomorrow). I don’t think I’m going to continue it when I get back to the US, and I am very OK with that. Whenever school ends, regardless of whether it was a good semester or a bad semester, its always a good feeling.

On a happier note, I have my hostel all booked in Rome!! Now I just have to find a way to get to the airport on Saturday. Apparently if I take a taxi its going to cost me 600DH. That’s almost a hundred bucks! No way. There must be a cheaper way. CTM bus? Get my host dad to drive me? The problem is that Casablance is a little more than an hour from Rabat. I don’t want him going out of his way, especially when he a) picked me up from the bus station at 5AM on Sunday and b) already went to Casablanca once this week to pick up a relative visiting from Canada. I know how unpleasant that many hours on the road in a week can be.

Oh yeah, also, speaking of the bus station at 5am. So, I asked my host dad to pick me up at five, and since Pete is staying with my host dad’s brother, he usually gets a ride as well. So anyway, the bus got in at 4:30 instead of 5 so we had a good half hour to kill waiting for our ride… Some Moroccan guy nonchalantly asked for the time, in French, so I showed him what time it was on my phone, and he asked if I spoke French, and unfortunately I said yes… so, for the next half hour, this guy talked “our” ears off (really, just mine because Pete couldn’t understand) about every topic under the sun. I couldn’t tell if he was drunk, because he didn’t smell like alcohol, but the way he was jumping from topic to topic was so strange that I didn’t think he was thinking normally. Anyway, first, he said that his dad was in Europe (or something; I couldn’t really understand) and asked Pete and I over to his place to hang out. So awkward. I told him we were waiting for our uncle. He asked if I was married to Pete. Again, I should have said yes, because then he might have left us alone. When he found out I was single, he was like half-hitting on me, half-asking me to convert to Islam. The whole conversation was just very strange. He told me all about how he smokes and he knows he shouldn’t, but when he dies he’s getting a new body and it all won’t matter. Then he started talking about how Nicolas Sarkozy is nothing more than a janitor who picks up the trash off the street. Stream of conciousness. FINALLY after, again, half an hour of listening to this guy talk about nothing in particular, he went off to his apartment which was “really, just two blocks from here, I swear,” and left us in peace. We were finally picked up and made it home. This guy was just really strange.