Thursday, June 1, 2006

Morocco Trip: First day

Today was full of adventure. Marie got up early to go to the A’s for teaching by 8, and I joined her while she was eating breakfast. She left, and I went back to bed. I slept peacefully and soundly until 12:00, which felt like 8:00 in the morning to me, which was about the time I’ve been getting up anyway. I took a shower and did my morning preparations, and while I was brushing my teeth, the phone rang. It was the Casablanca airport, saying my luggage had been found! They said they would send it on to Fez and that it would be there that night.

Soon after they called, Marie arrived back here and the two of us went to a little café together, where we ate lunch. We both got brochettes, or shish kabobs, which were incredibly tasty! The meal also came with french fries and rice, bread with an incredible pepper/olive spread, and yogurt. It cost us 30 dh (dirhams) each, or about $3.50. (The exchange rate is currently about 8.5 dh to 1 dollar.)

I enjoyed watching the people walk by—we were on a bustling thoroughfare, and cars, taxis, motorbikes, and people passed by in a constant stream. The variation in women’s dress was especially interesting. I’d say 60% or more wore the traditional djallabah with a head scarf. Others wore a head scarf but more Western clothing, such as a skirt or pants with a long-sleeve shirt, and perhaps 25 % wore no head scarf. Some of these were dressed in tight, tight skirts and pants, and I even saw two girls in sleeveless shirts. It’s all the younger generation that dresses this way. Mothers in djallabahs will be out on the streets with young daughters in t-shirts and jeans.
After our delicious lunch (made all the more delicious by the fact that I was ravenously hungry—I had had only one meal the day before), we walked back to our apartment and I showed Marie some pictures. Then, around 4:00, she took me to Fez Jdid, a marketplace.

Entrance gate to Fez Jdid

Seeing the parapets on this wall made me feel like I was going back in time to my fairy tale books.

That was so much fun! No cars could get in, and the narrow lane was filled with people going both directions. Shops of all sorts lined both sides, and small vendors even had their wares piled in the middle of the street. The interesting thing, too, was that all the wares were organized in categories: all the shoe sellers were in one area, the djallabah stores were in another section, the date-and-olive sellers were all clumped together, and so on.

I bought a djallabah! We looked in about 5 different stores before we picked one, and Marie helped me barter it down from 450 dh to 300 dh. It’s a very nice light linen, white with blue stripes and trim. We also bought a black djallabah for a friend for 200 dh. Marie also found a pair of lime green shoes for 75 dh, and then we bought dates, olives, and figs for approximately $3.00/kilo.

We walked home (It’s so neat to have everything within walking distance!), ate dinner of dates, figs, olives and sandwiches of gouda cheese on the distinctive round, flat Moroccan bread (called ‘Hobs’ in Arabic) and worked out our itinerary for the Spain part of our trip. We also had a very good talk, where Marie shared what it has been like to live here the past few months.
Photoshoot in our djallabahs

At 9:00 (which still felt like 5:00 pm to my body), we went to bed. I was just drifting off to sleep when a mosquito bit me really hard, waking me up with its annoying little hum and making my heart beat fast. Then it seemed like mosquitoes were all over the place, and I couldn’t swat them in the dark, so I put the sheet over my head. That made me way too hot, and I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I tossed and turned until midnight, when I finally went back to sleep. 

This is the third post in this series.
Keep Reading: The American School
Read the previous post: Flights, Trains, and Luggage Woes
Begin at the beginning: The Journey Begins

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