Thursday, September 10, 2009

When in Morocco...

I feel as though I've been living in Fes for months. One week since I’ve left and I have made some great friends and feel as though this is an adventure I started a long time ago.

The other day we took a tour of the medina in Fes. We were told several times that we had to look for the five different elements. In Islam there are five pillars. Shahada (Testifying to God's One-ness), Salat (Prayer), Zakat(giving charity), Sawm (fasting), and Hajj (pilgrimage). My entire time here in Fes so far has really help me understand the depth of Islam and the Islamic culture thus far. We saw the 4th largest mosque in the world. Its elements were mosaic, arches, cedar (intertwined being able to see out without being seen), the fountain/river, and the minaret. I felt as though I was walking around the marketa in Mexico with all the people and the many stands of goods to be sold. It was definitely a highlight experience. My favorite eye opening adventure in the medina walking was seeing all the fresh chickens waiting to have their heads cut off...or maybe it was almost being ran over by a donkey…

Fasting for Ramadan...My roommate is Muslim and for the sake of solidarity I decided to fast with her. It has its hard days and its easy days…but I definitely can see the community and spiritual aspect that comes with not eating or drinking sun rise to sun down. I do pray my own prayers at least five times throughout the day. I feel very close to my Christian God through this Islamic practice. My roommate and house family are very encouraging. My house family is very excited to see me fasting. It makes me feel definitely closer to the people in general…because even the least spiritual of Muslims fast.

My host family is amazing. They laugh at me and my roommate Armaan when we practice darija (Moroccan Arabic)...but are so excited to see us try. The darija is so much more difficult than the fusah (standard) arabic that I learned. But this whole thing is about experiences and challenges...taking them in and accepting them.

I wouldn’t say that I am used to catching a cab…but I am confident in saying that cathching a cab in Morocco is not anything like the U.S. It took us 30 minutes to find a cab that would take us to the Asima (market) where we needed to pick up supplies to refuel. By the time we had reached the cab we might as well have walked (but of course we didn’t know that). The little red petit taxi drivers have power. They can refuse you…and they decide which pedestrian they’re going to pick up.

Today it rained for the first time since I’ve been here. It by no means was a heavy rain…but lucky enough for all of us we have zero rain gear. In my flip flops and Air Jordan backpack we walked the streets in search of a taxi. Me and Armaan flagged one down and were pretty proud of ourselves. Turns out we got creeper #1. He guessed Armaan’s ethnicity off the bat (which is unusual because everyone we have met thus far assumes that she and I are Moroccan) and proceeded to ask her all about what she was doing and where her family was. I thought to myself… Self. This man is not too bad. He is farely nice in fact. Well he turned to me and said “nti jahmeela” (you’re beautiful). It just went downhill from there. He wanted to know if we were married and said that I was written into his heart. He then proceeded to tell us that he was from Afghanistan (and he wasn’t) and that he loved bin Laden. He said his car was one from the Taliban and that he had a bomb. Yup. I pretty much can say that I was more than ready to get out of that vehicle- despite the fact that he was so nonchalant about it. Also street signs are the worst guidelines ever. Cab rides are usually the times that I pick to pray…

A lot of times we go on these 30-40 minute walks around the town…and that’s light walking. I love the empowerment that walking has given me. Getting to the market I know that I will be walking for at least 15-20 minutes. Getting away from the attachment to technology and luxuries has definitely been an empowering thing.

I realized at dinner yesterday that people other than most Moroccans get their luggage checked going through the Casablanca airport. Because I looked native I did not :) This weekend we have a trip to the desert…and I couldn’t be more excited

Favorite quotes so far… “…but I am a famous Moroccan. Let me show you!”, “bella sha’kalat”, “you have black hair like me?”


pianojess21 said...

I love reading about your travels! Keep sharing.

Alec Chambers said...

Do I need to come to Fes and kick some A? Cuz I will!

It sounds like you're having a blast, keep keepin' on! I miss, especially at the Festival. Thanks for the wall post love.

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