Hello everyone! I hope that all of my fellow Fords are having an easy time with midterms--because I'm spending my time traveling! This past weekend I joined a school-sponsored trip to various locales in Northern Morocco. Our trip began at 3AM Saturday morning (I only got 2 hours of sleep in bed that night); we took three vans up to Chefchaouen, where we ate at around 8AM. The whole city is painted a bright blue (my Facebook picture is in Chefchaouen). Then we headed up to Akchour, a region a little farther North, along some seriously winding roads. But it was totally worth the ride/headache/sleep depravity, because it was absolutely gorgeous. We spent all day hiking up a river bed, and ate lunch under an ancient land bridge (picture below). Some people even went swimming in the cold stream water (I didn't have swim trunks...wish they'd told me that I would need them)! That night, I ate dinner in Tetouan with a bunch of Moroccan students that went on the trip. We discussed school (they couldn't agree on whether the English, French, or Moroccan education system was the best), and we also had an interesting discussion about Moroccan hospitality. I learned a good deal about Morocco's Parliament as well (one girl's father was a Parliamentarian)--most people are apparently just as displeased with their government as U.S. citizens are! The next day, we drove 20 minutes from Tetouan to the Mediterranean shore--absolutely gorgeous! We ate lunch at a beach-side restaurant (and to our surprise, all the fish/shrimp still had heads!!!). The rest of the day was spent driving home; a boring car ride became rather eventful when the Moroccan national soccer team won an important game, which we learned when we ran into a giant street mob celebrating. We got back at 11pm--and I've been busy catching up on work since then!
And a cultural note: I learned in my colloquial Arabic class today the phrase ما شاء اللة, the literal translation of which is "whatever god wills." While this phrase is commonly used to express gratitude or thankfulness, a friend happened to see the phrase written on a passing car. Our teacher told us that people here have bumper stickers/signs/etc with this phrase, because it serves as a reminder to Muslims to avoid covetous or jealous thoughts ("it wards away the evil eye" was his original explanation...warranted additional details). The Hand of Fatima also holds a similar meaning, which is why so many Arab women can be found wearing it on necklaces or bracelets!
Arabic Word of the Week: مغرفة : a scoop of ice cream! Can't believe I hadn't learned this earlier.
Miss you all tons--be sure to get in touch with me if you want me to talk about anything in particular!!