مرحبا!

مرحبا! (Welcome!) After a few days of rather mild peer pressure, I have decided to join the club and write a blog about my travels in Morocco. I know I have never been the best about keeping in touch, so it is my sincere hope that both A) this blog is regularly updated with pictures/thoughts/stories, and B) that anyone who wants to read about my (mis)adventures will be fully satisfied by what they find here. Questions, comments, and suggestions are more than welcome (actually, they're required, especially if you want something from Morocco...;), so feel free to contribute! I miss all of you already, but I'm excited for a semester in Morocco, and I can't wait to share what I find with everyone in the U.S.!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Last Days in Morocco + Egypt

Me Last Days in Morocco + Egypt Trip!

I can’t believe it—I’ve left Morocco! Looking back, it seems like the semester has gone by so quickly, though my finals week really did drag on forever. I finished my last final at 9:30 AM Saturday morning; that gave me three hours before I left for the train station to pack/eat/and say goodbye to a semester’s worth of friends! Of course, some of my closest friends were already gone/out exploring (William Allgood, Nathan Mayo, and Noella Taylor decided to go caving instead of seeing me off…jerks), so I had already begun the process, and at this point I was more than ready to be moving on from Al Akhawayn and getting back to friends and family in the states. Nonetheless, I spent the morning reflecting on what an incredible time I’ve had in Morocco, and how lucky I have been to be here with such a fantastic group of study abroad students! They’ve made my trip, and I can’t wait to catch up with them all stateside!

I was also fortunate enough to be traveling out of Ifrane with some other friends (which fell together at the last minute). On the train to Casablanca, I met two people with a familiar accent…I couldn’t be sure at first, but when they told me that my mother (who is from Adelaide) must be a silly crow-eater, I knew that they were Australians! They were on a “Cairo to Casablanca” tour of Northern Africa…we had a great time chatting with them, from serious middle eastern political questions to gut-busters about British comedies. I said my last goodbyes to my friends at the Casa train station (they were leaving the next morning)…then I waited for an hour for the train to the airport, and from there on everything went like clockwork (besides the airport café being closed = cheese sandwich for dinner :/). After finals, it felt great to relax knowing that everything was in order and that I would be in Egypt soon! The only real hitch on my night was the flight itself…it wasn’t a full flight, and I had two extra seats to myself, UNTIL a lady with three children (including one infant) and a nanny decided to expand from their original three seats into my additional two as well. I spent the night next to two loud, crying children and an adorable little girl who just wouldn’t stop kicking me while I tried to sleep.

So once I got to Cairo, I was exhausted. But I cleared customs and baggage claim in 10 minutes, and met my friend Sharan at the airport with no problems whatsoever. After a 1 ½ turned 2 ½ hour nap, we set out with some of his friends to the famous Pyramids at Giza. Awesome. We even got to climb up one on the inside…it was quite a hike! Afterwards, we ate at a Pizza Hut directly across from the Pyramids/Sphinx…great pictures (and delicious food)! That afternoon we headed back to Khan al-Khalidi (large Bazaar/market) and I bought lots of fun touristy things. Heckling here is definitely more insistent than it is in Morocco. However, because everyone heckles, I don’t feel badly at all completely ignoring people/simply walking out of people’s stores if I don’t feel like paying that much/etc (unlike in Morocco, where we would generally at least say no thanks or address the person). We spent the evening relaxing, eating schwarma, and planning out the next day’s adventures to Luxor.
Sharan and I at the Pyramids


I'mma knock this guys head off...

The view of the Pyramids from Pizza Hut
The next day, we hopped on a morning flight (delayed by 1 ½ hours of course) to Luxor, known for an absurd amount of ancient Egyptian ruins/temples/tombs/etc. We caught the East Bank tour that afternoon, and visited both Karnak and Luxor Temples. I was really impressed—these places have been standing for between 3,000 and 4,000 years, and while there has obviously been damage (both natural and man-made) some sections still maintained their original paint colors and designs. Also, building structures this size in ancient times is really impressive—the temples are constructed from tremendously large stone blocks, along with stone pillars and obelisks that the Egyptians managed to erect somehow (they don’t actually know how). That night I tried falafel; not as good as shawarma, but still tasty! The next morning, we visited the famous Luxor West Bank; home to the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens (among other things, of course). We got to explore an old temple dedicated to Queen Hatshepsut (who was not a Queen, but rather was the strongest female Pharaoh), along with the famous tombs of the ancient Egyptian dynasties. They were incredibly well preserved, though obviously many had suffered damage from tomb-robbers before the area became a protected site. Alas, no pictures allowed! Frustrating, but it was also the very first place I have been this entire semester that seemed even remotely concerned about protecting the site itself, so I didn’t mind. When our tour ended, we ate more shawarma for lunch and then headed to the airport early (we’d already checked out of our hotel, which was super cheap but generally awesome for no apparent reason beyond our good fortune). We sat, read, played cards, watched soccer, and finally caught our flight back to Cairo. That night, I ate Koshary for the first time…noodles, lentils, tomato sauce, delicious.
Our Hotel. Stereo-typically great.

Paintings/hieroglyphs at Karnak Temple 

Obelisk at Luxor Temple

Statues at Luxor Temple

Sharan and I in front of the Colossi of Memnon 

Sharan and I in front of Queen Hapshetsut's Temple
The next morning, we toured the Citadel in Cairo (a big castle area up on a hill)…pretty cool view of the city plus a super interesting Egyptian Military History Museum. I have learned about some of the stuff that they displayed there (and some of the events that they chose to conveniently ignore), so it was a nice way to close out my Middle Eastern studies. We ate lunch at the best Koshary place in Cairo…a 5 story restaurant that serves only Koshary. Afterwards, we visited the famous Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. This place is enormous, and displays absolutely no organizational principles whatsoever…it might as well have been a large warehouse full of crazy cool ancient stuff. We got to see mummified bodies preserved in the museum, most famously the body of King Ramses II; we also saw the tombs and sarcophagi that housed the bodies in the tombs that we had visited in Luxor. We paid a visit to the King Tut exhibit (he wore a huge golden mask into the grave, and his sarcophagus was incredibly intricate). After that, to be honest, the rest of the Museum was a blur. I was overwhelmed pretty much the entire time—but it was a great experience! After the Museum we stopped by Tahrir Square for a bit, to take some pictures/buy Egyptian flags…there were some protestors gathered along one of the streets near the square, but nothing serious. Right across from the square is the ruins of the former NDP building (Mubarak’s party); it was torched during the protests, and is a grim reminder to the level of violence that existed in Egypt just a few months ago. From here, we decided to go to dinner…Sharan got us mildly lost, but after an hour and a half taxi ride (which still only cost 11 dollars…just think about that for a minute) we finally found a small Indian Restaurant that was supposedly “the best restaurant in Cairo.” It was fantastic. Afterwards, we braved Cairo traffic again to get back to the dorms, packed our bags, and caught one last taxi to the airport in Cairo!
Some street art about the Egyptian Revolution near AUC

One of many "Allah" bushes at the Citadel

View of Cairo

The Mosque in Cairo's Citadel

"The best soldiers on Earth"... I'll take West Pointers any day.

Taylor, Tommy and I outside the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities

The immolated NDP Building near Tahrir Square

Protesters at Tahrir
I’m sitting in Amsterdam now, finishing this blog post and checking out some of my favorite pictures from this past semester. I have had an absolutely incredible time studying abroad—as difficult/frustrating as some aspects of my trip have been, I wouldn’t want to give up any of it. I’ve learned sooooooo much this semester, and I’ve met some pretty awesome people along the way—on the whole, no complaints!
Everyone stateside—I’ll see you soon! I can’t wait to be home again!

Arabic Word of the Day = أهرامات (Pyramids)

p.s. I’m home now…found this in my room when I got back!



Friday, December 9, 2011

You’re from West Point, right? (The Embassy Trip)


The number of times that peopled have asked me that question throughout the semester…well its pretty high. There are tons of students from all three U.S. military academies studying abroad here at Al Akhawayn this semester—the majority are Army, but there are some squids and zoomies as well. In any case, I was fortunate enough to tag along with this bunch of go-getters to the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, for a day of officialness and ‘briefings’ on the general workings of the embassy. It was a great experience—we heard from USAID and Millennium Challenge workers, from military advisors and security forces, and even from the embassy’s PR wing (“it’s all about hip-hop and skateboards, man”). It was a trip designed for military personnel—so it really was fortuitous that I happened to know some Army kids well enough that I ended up coming along! We also got to eat at the “American Café” near the embassy grounds…what a good burger!

As it turns out, most of my good study abroad friends this semester come from one of the Academies. Their experience there is so incredibly different from my life at Haverford—it really is mind boggling. And many of them have very different political/economic/social/religious orientations than I do (indeed, different from anything that I’d find at Haverford really), which has made for many thought-provoking discussions (ok blood-thirsty arguments) ranging from serious topics to the most trivial of pursuits. For me, this was a seriously refreshing experience—breaking out of the liberal box every once and awhile is a must. But more importantly, I think that a bit of appreciation is well worth a paragraph here. I could not have been luckier to meet such a fantastic group of friends (they basically swept me up on the plane on the way over, so I’ve been guided from the beginning!). In class, hanging out, traveling across Morocco—these guys (and girls, of course) have looked out for me in a way that has really made my stay in Morocco more relaxed and in general enriching than it would have been otherwise. And hearing about their experiences at West Point/Colorado Springs/where’s Navy again? and their future plans has been a truly eye-opening and humbling experience. It really changes the way you think about things when you know personally some incredible people who are going to end up fighting for you in Afghanistan someday soon (whether you wanted to send them there or not!). They’ve also provided a funny connection to home, whether it was a great time at thanksgiving dinner or a good old American game of football. In fact, we’re playing again tomorrow before the Army-Navy game (GO ARMY!)—definitely looking forward to it.

In short, I have nothing but respect and thanks for those who choose to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Not only have they made my semester better in so many ways, but as a group they have shown me a sense of maturity, honor, and class that I truly admire. A few times this semester, I've heard  a teacher or administrator say something like “you can always pick out the army kids”—in that case, being mistaken for a West Point cadet is probably one of the greatest indirect compliments I have ever received.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving in Morocco

Thanksgiving Week
After my adventures in Spain, I decided to take a week off of traveling and just relax a little bit! But before my weekend of sleep-ins and book marathons, I had a fantastic Thanksgiving, Moroccan style! A graduate student (from the U.S. Army) here at Al Akhawayn managed to organize a Thanksgiving dinner with a local restaurant here in Ifrane on Wednesday night (the owner had lived in the states?). Of course, I signed up, but I wasn’t expecting much…perhaps some mashed potatoes and a little bit of Turkey, just a small taste of home. I couldn’t have been more wrong! For a crowd of around 25-30 people, this restaurant prepared at LEAST 8 huge turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, delicious sweet potatoes, green beans, and something similar to Indian-style naan bread. I ate until it hurt to eat more…and then we had cake! It was absurdly good, and given my increasing homesickness it was exactly what I needed to tide me over for the next month. And Friday afternoon, a group of American guys got together and played some good old American football. While it was obviously nothing compared to the (in)famous Cebul Mud Bowl, it was awesome to share the experience with the other exchange students. We even got some Moroccans to join for a bit!
Chris and I, eating our pre-meal Salad.

One of many birds. Heaven on a plate.

Heaven half-eaten.

Our group--we got funny looks from Moroccan patrons, but it was totally worth it.

Our cake.

Drew Webster and I, lookin' classy for Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for all of the wonderful friends that I have shared this semester with in one way or another, of all nationalities, and the incredible opportunities I have had to explore the world this semester. I am thankful for my family and friends at home, who I cannot wait to see again, and yes, I am thankful for my unexpectedly glorious Thanksgiving feast. Indeed, if my semester abroad has given me one thing, it is a better perspective about what I should be thankful for in this world, and the people and things that I should never take for granted! I truly am lucky to enjoy the life that I do, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I miss all of you—last stop on my tour-de-Arab is Egypt in a few weeks, and then it will be back to the Wootown!

Word of the Day: فرصة سعيدة. In Darija, this phrase means “nice to meet you”, but it literally translates into “happy opportunity”, of which I have had many!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

España!

This past Friday was Moroccan Independence Day. While this is obviously an important day for Moroccans, I took this day of national pride as an opportunity to jump ship and head off to Spain!

My flight left Fes-Saiss International Airport at 11:55 AM. Naturally, I planned everything out so that I would be well ahead of time (in case the taxi didn’t show/weather was bad/we hit a sheep/etc). So of course I arrive there at 8:30 AM no troubles whatsoever (only the beginning of my near-miraculous timing this weekend). First object of note about this airport: it was the smallest airport I have ever seen. 4 gates, one runway. Security and customs and passport checks were all in the same small room. Second object of note: when I went to check in at 8:45 AM, I was told by the staff at the desk “we are Arab here! You’re checking in too early. Come back in an hour and twenty minutes.” Choking back laughter, I went to watch last night’s soccer in the café for an hour and 15 minutes. Of course, when I go back down…there is no one at the counter. In fact, no one even bothers to begin checking people in until 10:10…about an hour before the flight began to board. Last object of note: flying Ryan Air is a really interesting experience. It’s just like every other airline—except the seats don’t recline, everything is painted an eye-piercing yellow and blue, and the ‘flight attendants’ announce every 15 minutes a new crazy super awesome special deal that I just MUST buy on the spot. It’s like being trapped in an infomercial, the content of which changes on a whim. Also, there were a disturbingly large number of crying babies on my flight—I was literally surrounded by wailing children—so it was a good thing that I was tired, and thus slept for most of the flight!

I landed in Girona 5 minutes late (but, of course, the Ryan Air crew played their customary “congratulations for another on-time flight” jingle), and yet I still managed to make the very first bus into Barcelona. This bus left 15 minutes after my original arrival time…meaning I got off the plane, made it through customs, withdrew money, went to the bathroom, and bought bus tickets…in under 10 minutes. I am a pro. Or security in Spain is silly. Your choice! I was originally going to meet Elizabeth at the bus station; however, we both thought that I wouldn’t make the early bus, so she was planning on meeting me 2 hours later than I would now arrive. Again, in a minor miracle, the bus had free internet; I sent her a quick email…and immediately after successfully sending the message, discovered that the bus internet had crashed! The lucky streak continues.

So Elizabeth picked me up at the station, and we walked back to our hostel together. We passed the Arc de Triomf, a large arch built for a world exhibition in Barcelona in 1888, on the way there. The hostel in question was located on an obscure side street/pathway near Las Ramblas, the main tourist street in Barcelona. This turned out to be an absolutely fantastic location—it was close by to everything we saw that weekend, and there were shops and restaurants everywhere. Also, the difference between Spanish and Moroccan cities is truly a breath of fresh air; streets are open, well-lit, clean (besides lots of cigarette smoke), and full of people wandering through restaurants and stores. I immediately felt comfortable here—this weekend was really a short taste of Western culture again, after being submerged in Arab life for months! In any case, by the time we arrived at the hostel, I was starving…I hadn’t eaten much of anything thanks to travel. To my surprise, Elizabeth had a delicious candle-lit snack of cheese, bread, grapes, and wine waiting for me!
the Arc de Triomf

Elizabeth's candle-lit snack, including bread, Brie cheese, wine,
grapes, a half-eaten Deli Sandwich, and a Mars Bar.

A street near our hostel: open, clean, and full of people!
That night, we went on a long walk down las Ramblas. We first stopped at a large outdoor market--which was filled with FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. I had to have a fruit smoothie. Then, we saw a large square that was filled with Spanish protesters at the time (they had elections this past Sunday), and then Elizabeth took me to Corte Ingles, a 9 floor superstore across from the square. The things you take for granted in the states…as ridiculous as it sounds, I had a blast meandering through floors of overpriced clothes, gizmos and gadgets, and an entire floor of shoes. After our walk, we went in search of a dinner restaurant—I was still hungry, so we forwent traditional Spanish tapas in favor of some good old Italian food. Elizabeth had some kind of pasta (crazy delicious) and I had the first chicken Caesar salad that I have seen in over 3 months. The waiter also served us complimentary champagne, and I had a good laugh thinking about how ridiculous that would have been in Morocco.
look at all of that fruit. LOOK AT IT.
Spanish protesters. These guys ended up sweeping the elections on Sunday.
Saturday: a super busy day for us! The weather forecast was dreary, so we started early to hopefully beat the rain in our search of all things Antonio Gaudi. First, we visited Park Güell, a park designed and built by Barcelona’s master architect. Getting there was somewhat of a challenge…the metro took us close to the park, but the entrance itself was up a rather large hill. However, the climb was totally worth it—the park was really something else. The whole park is full of colors and murals, wavy lines and general artistic creativity. The park sports an entrance designed to look like the opening of Heaven; a cool looking Salamander; and the longest bench in the world. From the top, we got a great view of Barcelona, along with some cool pictures. Then it was time to head back down the huge hill (much better this direction) headed towards what is Gaudi’s most famous work, la Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada Familia is an enormous, unfinished church right in the center of Barcelona—construction began in 1882, and was nowhere near finished when Gaudi died in 1926 (he was actually hit by a moving vehicle of some kind…because he was wearing his typically plain and dirty clothing, no one recognized him as Barcelona’s most famous artist until it was too late to save him). The church is projected to be finished near 2030. However, the inside of the church was finished just recently, and was dedicated in 2010—while Elizabeth and I were originally hesitant to wait for 30 minutes to get inside, we were immensely grateful that we had once we got inside! This cathedral is easily on the level of the Hassan the 2nd mosque in Casablanca in terms of sheer beauty and architectural genius. And Gaudi’s traditional style is unmistakable—bright, colorful stained glass, complex arching designs, and an imposing figure of Christ over the altar make this church a must see for anyone going to Barcelona.

The entrance of Heaven in Park Guell
Elizabeth with the awesome Salamander
a small part of the longest bench in the world, Gaudi-style
Outside La Sagrada Familia
Inside La Sagrada Familia


At this point, the weather was beginning to turn; however, thanks to the aforementioned lucky streak, most of our outside adventuring was done for the day! We headed back to las Ramblas for lunch in a small Spanish café to let the worst of the rain pass, and then headed out for the last main stop of our day: Casa Batlló. This is another truly extraordinary house designed and constructed by Gaudi, perhaps a 30 minute walk from our hostel. I can’t possibly describe this house in its full glory here—let it suffice to say that Elizabeth and I spent nearly 2 ½ hours listening to the guided tour, taking pictures, and perusing the gift shop. Some of the most noticeable features of the house include; furniture handcrafted by Gaudi himself, with incredible ergonomic designs (the handrails, door knobs, window vents, etc, all fit like a glove into my hand); the “light well” a 5 story vent right in the center of the house which filters natural light throughout the building; incredible room designs centered around an aquatic theme (apparently, Gaudi sought to build a house with no straight lines…even the doors and windows are bowed like waves or ripples in a pond); and a rooftop terrace with artistic chimney stacks and a giant reproduction of a dragon. At this point in time, it was really raining outside…but we spent plenty of time on the roof taking pictures anyways!!
A light fixture in Casa Batllo--almost all of the rooms were decorated
with similarly intricate/flowing designs
One of the doors in the house--again, almost all of the
woodwork sported similarly distinct shaping
The light well viewed from the top
Casa Batllo at night

Elizabeth and I getting soaked next to Gaudi's Dragon
By this time, it was nearly 7pm; we walked back to the hostel in the rain to relax for a while before going to eat dinner (Spanish people eat just as late as Moroccans, apparently). This time around, I wanted to try authentic Spanish tapas; so we went to a Tapas bar (there was a television with an FC Barcelona game on, but Elizabeth cunningly sat us far away from the television…lame). We sampled a fried chicken dish, a cold fish dish, and a meatball dish…all of which were delicious (though I think the fish were my favorite). Additionally, I got to try Sangria for the first time (if you don’t know, Sangria is a wine based drink that has been left to sit with cut fruit for a day, along with rum); absolutely delicious. Also, both Friday and Saturday evening ended with tasty Spanish gelato.

Spanish tapas
Sangria. I drank half a liter, which ended up being a
lot less alcohol than I originally anticipated.
And on Sunday, it was time to go home! We left with plenty of time to drop me at the bus station, to catch the only bus headed to the airport in time for my flight. We arrived 15 minutes early…only to discover that there was ONE SEAT REMAINING on the bus. Lucky streak: maxed out. After rushed goodbyes, I quickly jumped on the bus and was headed back to Morocco before I knew it!

I had an absolutely amazing time in Spain, and I can’t believe that I only have a month left in the Middle East before I head home again. And after seeing Spain, I think that I’m ready to be home as well. I’m sure that the time will fly by!

SPANISH word of the day: relajado (relaxed, because this weekend was easily the most relaxing weekend of my semester!)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Eid al-Adha Break


The last few days have been pretty busy for me—I’m actually watching a film during class right now, and the only reason I’m writing this blog post (as opposed to ignoring the movie to work on other homework) is because Al Akhawayn has seen it fit to block their wireless internet! Welcome to Morocco…

IN ANY CASE. This blog post is about my travels during Eid al-Ahda, the second major Muslim holiday that I have experienced. This was also the last major break from school at Al-Akhawayn, so I tried to make the most of my time! William, Chris and I left school Thursday night (skipping Friday Arabic class…what rebels) for Casablanca. We got there at 11 PM, and we needed to get up extremely early the next morning to pick up William’s parents from the airport. To our great surprise (and fortune), we found a KFC (er, كنتاكي دجاج) a few blocks from our hotel—while this particular KFC had to have the least disciplined staff of all time, the food was delicious. We ate, and crashed.

Friday, we grabbed William’s parents (Diane and John) from the airport. They brought him an entire suitcase of Dr. Pepper (pictures below). Coolest. Parents. Ever. But by the time we got back to the hotel, everyone was pretty tired. We walked around a large mall in a nearby tower complex, and then took a 1 hour…2 hour…3 hour nap. After spending some time planning out the following day, we spent a solid hour attempting to get to Ricks Café (a recreation of the famous restaurant in the movie Casablanca); we walked, because Casablanca cab drivers charged outrageous rates. That being said…Ricks was wonderful. I should have gotten the T-bone…I got lamb instead, which was also delicious, but now I’m still jonesing for a good old American steak!
William with his girly suitcase full of Dr. Pepper.

Saturday, we saw the only other really interesting thing in Casablanca—the Hassan 2nd Mosque. It was absolutely incredible, and well worth the trip. The minaret at this mosque is the tallest in the world, and the rest of the mosque was designed to be just as impressive. The mosque plus the courtyard surrounding it can accommodate 105,000 worshippers---and the roof inside the mosque OPENS. IT OPENS. In case you can’t tell, I really, really enjoyed the time we spent there—and I was sure to take tons of pictures. After the mosque, we hopped on a train (a very, very crowded train) to Rabat. After eating lunch, we spent some time walking through the Chellah, the site of an ancient Roman city (similar to Volubilis). It was full of Storks (among the ancient relics, of course), and it was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Afterwards, we ate at Pizza Hut for dinner; then, I left William, Chris, and family and met up with my roommate Marouane. I stayed at his house from Sunday to Wednesday!
Inside the Hassan the 2nd Mosque (the detailing here is really incredible)

The roof (you can see the split in the Middle where it opens)

A fountain in the ablution room (most of the basement of the Mosque)

Outside the Mosque. It sits right against the Atlantic Ocean, in a huge courtyard.
A Haverford-esque path in the Chellah.
Staying with a Moroccan family during Eid al-Adha was a really unique experience. That night, I met everyone in his immediate family, and we sat down for dinner (AFTER I had eaten pizza hut…whoops). Marouane is the only member of his family who speaks English—so for the first evening, everyone jabbered in super fast darija at me, and I was really confused! But as it turns out, Marouane’s dad spoke broken Spanish as well, so when I really couldn’t understand something in Arabic he could help explain it to me in Arabish. Over the next few days, I got to witness the slaughtering of a sheep (rather violent, and certainly not something I will choose to watch again), eat incredible amounts of meat (lamb for every meal, every day), and in general speak in Arabic with friends and family. It was definitely overwhelming—every evening I was pretty tired, because even basic conversations were difficult for me—but it was a necessary experience. Some other highlights: going to a traditional hammam (which I actually enjoyed); exploring the rest of Rabat, which included a visit to the mausoleum of Mohammed the 5th and Hassan the 2nd, shopping, and a trip to the old medina; eating various body parts of the sheep, like liver/heart/brains (I enjoyed this far less); getting to eat with my hands from one giant plate (this was fun, but surprisingly difficult at first…you can only use the first three fingers of your right hand); being told constantly “Kul! Kul!” (which means eat J ); having Marouane’s father read my fledgling Arabic essay and help me edit it; and relaxing in general! By the time Wednesday morning rolled around, I was ready to go back to school, but I had also really enjoyed the time I spent in Temara (his neighborhood).  His family drove back to Al Akhawayn with us (we stopped multiple times to buy pomegranate on the side of the road), and I had one final dinner with them at an apartment they rented for that night. Hopefully Marouane will be able to visit the United States, so I can show him the same warm hospitality that his family showed to me!
Me eating from a traditional Moroccan plate of lamb

Absolutely delicious Kebabs...guess what is in the middle (which I didn't eat)

Tomb of Mohammed the 5th

Bet you can guess where this went...
Ok, that’s all for this post. Soon to come: my trip to Barcelona!
Word of the day: ضحى (to sacrifice: Marouane’s father was very adamant that they did not ‘kill’ the sheep, but rather sacrificed it)
J Matthew