Friday, June 14, 2013

Morocco, thusfar

Well, we have arrived and are yet to be settled into our 8-week Moroccan life. We are staying with some Arabic class friends from Wisconsin, but their apartment is small and we are crowding them out a little. We have found a perfect apartment across from my school and near everything downtown, but the couple living in it can't leave until some furniture they ordered is ready (they are driving back to Switzerland so can leave as soon as it's done). So, at max, two weeks. But *hopefully* sooner, as we are ready to be settled and in a better routine, and the bus ride to the place we are staying from my school is insanely hot, crowded, and unpredictable (at least for us)... but it does only cost about 30 cents a person, so that's awesome.

The old medina where we are currently staying is insane. It's these narrow alleys of twists and turns, at first walk through every path looks exactly the same and there are a hundred alleyways and stairways to get lost in. But now that we've walked it 10+ times the small area we traverse is becoming more familiar as we recognize the kiosks and the man selling potato-egg sandwiches (that are YUMMY) in the corner shop and the communal oven. The old medina of Fez is the largest urban car-free area, which at first we were like that sounds awesome let's live there! But it's a terrible place for kids to play, as it's just narrow alleys with no open spaces (it's not like a well-planned modern car-free city, which is kind of what I was imagining but obviously was not thinking it through). Our walks in the evenings are nice after the sun has set and lots of people are out, but during the day it's pretty boring for the kids. The souq (market) is fun to walk through, albeit a bit crowded though not nearly as bad at the ones in say, Cairo or Jerusalem. The produce is cheap, cheap, cheap and everything from tomatoes to strawberries run about 50 cents a pound. They have an amazing selection too, way more than Cairo. The food here is yummy, the tajine dishes are delicious and mostly inexpensive at the little cafes, though there is a lack of cheap, vegetarian options like falafel or fuul sandwiches like in Egypt.

In so many ways, Fez is more like Cairo than I had imagined. Though a bit more European with everyone speaking French (or Spanish, there is a lot of Spanish, more than I thought) and it's not nearly as crowded, it's the same dusty, trash-strewn streets with the occasional feral cat running about. There are the same kiosks and crazy driving. But it is very different in its own ways as well, and I'm sure I will continue to recognize fundamental differences of culture. The spoken language is very, very different, and I cannot understand darija (the dialect) for the life of me. And usually everyone just speaks French to us anyways, and are startled when we reply in proper FusHa.

School starts in a few days, and in the mean time, we will play football in the alleys and on Sunday we have been invited to a Moroccan family's home, a lady with four children I met on the bus. My school, Alif, seems really good, very busy at least. There is a professor leading a group from Duke with three kids that are due to arrive today, and two are the same ages as ours. Her husband and Tim will hopefully be dad friends, at least for the few weeks they are here (only three). But by then we will be settled and in a routine and life will be less crazy.... at least as normal as can be in a different culture and climate and language.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you blogged! I was wondering how you guys are doing. Hang in there until your apartment is ready. It is so tough being in limbo. I love you!