i came to love you too late.

"life is either a daring adventure or nothing" -helen keller.

"true fearlessness is not the reduction of fear, but going beyond fear."

my adventure in morocco ended quicker than i would have hoped. nights at the mawazine festival, days of packing and getting in those last few minutes with friends that would soon be missed terribly. where does time go? wasn’t i just arriving in morocco, full of hope, excitement, and nervousness? 

experiences are unique to each person, and although i want so badly to make people back home understand my experience, i cannot do that fully. i have retained a good support group of friends back home; those who have read my blog or asked me about my time, genuinely curious (thanks guys). but how do i detail my whole four months in this magical country to them? how do i possibly start to tell people how incredibly much ive learned here? my views have been challenged, stretched, torn, and strengthened. below ive detailed just a few of the many things ive learned or have become more curious about since starting my story in morocco. 

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." -ecclesiastes 3:11

lets start with spirituality. what did i think morocco would hold for my walk with God? a few members of my christian community back home expressed concerns before i left; would i have anyone in morocco to encourage me towards the lord? one of my goals was to strengthen my relationship with my creator and although, not in the conventional style, morocco has done exactly that. since starting my christian walk in high school, i appear to have been spoon fed truth. at the same time, this whole time, i have been unable to ignore some of my ‘conflicting’ views such as homosexuality and evolution. morocco has taught me that it is okay to have these questions, and actually express them - i think i craved community so much before that i was hesitant to be curious. because morocco presented a new environment, a lack of christian community, and dozens of personal tests, i was able to explore my own personal faith and uncover questions that i had stifled for years. 

'He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.' -Thessalonians 1:8

ive met dozens of incredible moroccans during my stay. most all are dedicated to their muslim faith. but at their core, they believe in the same values as i do. it is near impossible for me to accept the truth that they will burn in hell simply because they grew up in a different part of the world that i did. my culture exposes me to the christian faith at an early age and so thats the set of beliefs i choose. in other parts of the world, people are exposed to other religions from day one. why should they be punished? religion in a sense, is just a means through which we express our individual spirituality - why is one better than another as long as everyone involved is expressing their longing and desire for something more?

how much of the bible can we take as literal? because of my ongoing internal qualms about evolution and christianity, i read a book called the Language of God by scientist Francis Collins a few years ago. it answered questions like ‘does science necessarily undermine faith in God?’…or could it support that faith? it is naive to ignore the immense evidence of evolution. growing up with two scientists as parents has taught me to never cease to use my reasoning, my brain, my knowledge. why cant science coexist, and even support, belief in God? isn’t it possible that God orchestrated evolution? why didn’t i bring this up before?

it was during my time in morocco that obama announced his support for gay marriage and north carolina rejected it. i have always supported the idea of gay-marriage for some of the obvious reasons: why should the law have any power over love? who is anyone to dictate what other people do with their lives? 

so why do we as christians pick and choose? why are things like tattoos accepted and homosexuality and evolution not? doesn’t the bible say that all sins are equal? but am i doing the same thing, and picking and choosing parts of the bible by still believing in the cross, in the power of faith and love and prayer and God, but questioning thessalonians 1:8, 1 corinthians 6: 9-10, and parts of genesis? 

let me clarify: i am in no way renouncing my faith. i am simply exploring it more deeply, defiant against being spoon fed. my story in morocco has taught me the difference between religion and spirituality. in islam, their God is the same as the christian God. and God penetrates their culture immensely. “hamdullah” (“thanks be to God”), “bismillah” (“in the name of God”), and my favorite “inshallah” (“if God wills it”) are used before meals, before driving, after meals, all the time. inshallah is used after almost every plan - “ill be back around 10 inshallah,” “ill return tomorrow inshallah,” “they will be okay inshallah,” ETC. these phrases are used with good intentions, and have become part of my everyday vocabulary now. i think about God more during the day now after living in morocco. i don’t journal every once in awhile out of obligation, i don’t force myself to pray, my mentality is more God-focused - i simply recognize God’s hand in things more (one of the most valuable effects of my study abroad experience). 

i have also learned the importance of living in the moment. this is how we ensure happiness. i read something recently that said that our mentality and our mind are innately more sensitive to negative experiences. this means that we have to be more in-tuned to the good moments in order to train your mind into recognizing these positive emotions. life, like morocco, is magical, and at the same time, incredibly messy and chaotic. people cut you in lines, men yell things at you on the streets, people play their own music out loud on public transport - needless to say - YOU CREATE YOUR OWN HAPPINESS. focusing on the good things will ensure that you actually soak in the good parts of your life. 

"discovering real goodness comes from appreciating simple experiences apart from accomplishments and fulfilling desires."

i have been taught the importance of sloughing off my hard outer shell. part of me came to morocco trying to escape things i couldn’t handle in the states - being full of bitterness and depression. my bitterness about things in the past, in the present, as well as my anxieties about the future have given me a harshness. during my time here, i have reflected upon a number of people back in the states; parents, friends - and why they function and act the way they do. changing my perspective and trying to understand theirs has been good for me, and has softened my heart a good amount. i am still in this process but have recognized how far i have come. if you are reading this, you have my permission to keep me accountable about this.

a genuine sense of humor is this: having a light touch; appreciating reality with a light touch.

"not all those who wander are lost."

did you know that morocco was the first country to recognize the us as a country in 1777? moroccans know this. they know their relationship with the states. they know how much the two countries have worked together in the past, as well as their close status as allies in the present. how many americans know this? how many americans actually know where morocco is on a map? right after president obama announced his support for gay marriage, moroccans were quick to want to know about it. homosexuality in morocco, as an islamic country, isn’t acknowledged (people actually pretend it doesn’t exist). it surprised me how much moroccans knew about what was going on in the US. it made me realize that while americans are so busy working to be the best, we are creating a cocoon for ourselves. i realized how incredibly important it was to get off this cloud, to travel, or at least really study other cultures, with the intentions of really understanding the other. the media does a horrible job at this. most americans believe morocco and the arab world to be full of terrorists, radical islamists, and american-hating muslims. this is not the case. yes, terrorism is more prevalent. yes, there do exist radical islamists. but no, they don’t hate americans, or christians. honestly, i would regard their religious tolerance as far higher than that of the american people. and they love americans more than americans even know about moroccans.

my host family and precious little Jed.

i also learned what it looks like to allow yourself to be loved and cared for, and to care so deeply for another person in return.

it is safe to say that the real definition of diarrhea, the magic of a hot water from pipes, the importance of trash cans and stricter traffic laws are not the only things ive learned during my experience in morocco. going back to the states will be more of an adjustment that i can imagine, and will most likely be depressing at times. consistently using toilet paper and silverware again are the least of my worries. i know i will stingy - with a 8DH:1USD exchange rate, i have learned the value of a dollar (i hope to be more careful with my money once returning home). 

"all great changes are preceded by chaos."

i will not be the completely the same person after i return stateside. all these revelations mentioned above will have incredible influence over my life. it’s up to me to put them to action. i am so incredibly blessed to have been given this experience. morocco taught me more than i can even blog (this is already excruciatingly long sorry!) and has really taught me the kind of woman i want to be. 

a big part of my moroccan family.

"and then i realized adventure was the best way to learn"

camille comes to morocco.

my little sissy camille got into morocco late last thursday. my family in fes picked her up from the airport and, because i had an exam early friday, she stayed in their house overnight and i came mid-day friday. we ate lunch with the host family and then walked around the medina for a bit before hopping back on the train to rabat. it was weird being back in fes, having once lived there for a few weeks. i took camille by the old madrassa and cafe clock, where we used to frequent. 

camille at the madrassa.

kitty in a grate.

since it was friday, i assume this to be a post-couscous nap…

camille and i at the entrance to the medina. 

that night, after we got back to rabat, we went to our first mawazine show. mawazine is a music festival in rabat held by the king, all the general admission tickets are free. there are numerous stages around rabat where international and moroccan bands play. we had the option of going to lmfao friday night but instead saw an african band called magic system. it was an awesome show, and we were all happy in the end that we didnt go to lmfao (apparently only one of them came and it wasnt a great show). 

saturday we got up and camille and i booked a hostel for marrakech. we hopped on the 3pm train and got into marrakech in time for tea with the hostel owners, dinner, and a walk around the Djamma El Fna, the main square in the city. our hostel was awesome - pretty hard to find tucked into the medina without a sign - but the owner was great, really loved his job, gave us mint tea and a map of the city, as well as suggestions of what to see. 

djamma ef fna.

camille in the djamma el fna square after dinner.

the next morning we woke up and walked around the medina a bit. we were given a tour of the tanneries, shown how they make the animal skin into leather. it was my second time in marrakech, so it was good to see something i hadnt seen before such as the tanneries. 

we also walked around the souks and the main square again. during the day, there are snake charmers, cobras, and monkeys. although marrakech and this square are super touristy, im glad camille got to see it. marrakech has its only unique charm to it.

the medina.

snake charmers in djamma el fna. 

camille and i after lunch.

we caught the train back to rabat. camille was tired so she stayed in and rested, but the rest of us went out to mawazine again, to a band called afro-cuban all stars, a latino sounding band. 

only a few days left in rabat….I DONT WANNA LEAVEEEE.

click here for my full album of chefchaouen.

chefchaouen.

last weekend a group of us went to chefchaouen. chefchaouen is in the Rif Mountains and is known for its overwhelmingly blue medina walls and, well, its hashish. because it is nestled in the mountains, taking a bus is your only option to get there. we left friday after couscous lunch and after a 5 hour bus ride, we were in chefchaouen. we checked into our hostel, pension mauritania, and then headed off to dinner. dinner was bizarre - we sat on the terrace, while the table beside us blared everything from adele to system of a down on their phone.

i have yet to talk about this in my blog - the idea of sound not being included in personal space. moroccans dont care if you dont want to listen to their music, theyll play it anyways. its as if theres a shortage of headsets in morocco. how many times have i been on the train and someones blaring annoying music on their phone, for everyone to hear? the bus drivers put on whatever music they want, loudly, and make their 50+ passengers listen to it. imagine if one table of people at a nice restaurant in the states blaring system of a down at the table beside you…it would never be allowed. but it happens here, and often.

anyways, the restaurant didnt even have a menu which made it difficult paying in the end. they messed up our order, they tried to charge us more than we had to pay….yada yada at least we had a good view haha.

the next day, we got up early, put on hiking clothes, and took a grand taxi to akshore (our driver had no right leg but drove the stick shift beautifully), a small town about 25 mins from chef. from here theres a trail up to waterfalls we wanted to see. it was about 1 hour to the first smaller waterfall and then another 1.5 hours up to the amazing huge cascades. it was definitely not an easy hike. 

what we hiked through. all the mountains and gorges were so gorgeous.

we finally made it to the cascades, dripping in sweat (the temperature in morocco has spiked!). we had no idea what we were in store for. the falls definitely overshot our expectations. the pictures cant even capture their natural beauty.

we were slow to wade in since the water was so FREEZING. but we waded in a bit, sucked it up, turned off our brains, and dove in. we swam to the falls and climbed up, letting the falls fall over us. the caves behind the falls were really cool too.

after a bit of sunbathing and food we headed back down the trail. on the way down, we passed by a group of rastafarians  - and suddenly, as robert passed one of them, there was a moment of recognition. they started laughing and hugging…we had actually met one in essaouria a month before during spring break. he sat on the wall by the beach and talked with us a month before (in the very south of morocco) and now he was here, on the same trail, in these obscure mountains, in the very north of morocco. it was awesome and random…

by the end of the hike i was bruised, scraped, sore, sunburnt and tired - but all SO worth it. it felt good to work and sweat for such a rewarding view like the falls.

we took a taxi back, and although i stayed awake for the picture-esque drive, i can say that all of us did…we were TIRED. regardless, we all showered and went back out to explore the beautifully BLUE medina that chef. is famous for while we still had some daylight. 

winding and hilly streets, almost entirely painted different hues of blue.

so many beautiful blue doors.

anna, robert, chris, and i. i love this gang so much.

along the way, we came across a nice looking restaurant (with menus). we were starving from the hike, to say the least. it was one of the most pleasant restaurant experiences ive had in morocco - there was actually service, and good service at that. they actually wrote down our order when they took it. it wasnt expensive - we got a delicious 3 course meal for 60Dhs (yeah…thats less than $8). 

it was chris’s 22nd birthday too, and i had bought a cake earlier from a nearby bakery. it was delicious, and we enjoyed it…even after our 3 course meal haha. 

i loved chefchaouen. it was unlike any other moroccan city id seen yet. it almost had a european feel to it (kind of like the coastal town of essaouria in the south). my favorite color is aqua blue and turquoise, so of course i was in heaven. it was our last full weekend to travel - our program will end in a week or two - and it was spent successfully. 

click here for my full album of circus pictures.

click here for my full album of berber village trip pictures.

click here for my full album of asilah pictures.

click here to for my album of american day pictures.

a group of us at IES set up an American Day with Dar L’kebira, a center near Rabat that rescues children off the street and who also houses homeless adults. ‘American Day’ involved playing games with the kids, sports, chalk, and dirt cups for dessert. 

the circus.

a small group of us went to the circus in Rabat last thursday night. i had been seeing muddy tramped flyers on the ground around my medina bab for over a month now and so was ready to see what florilecio circus was all about. we show up, pay 60dhs for what we thought were going to be nose-bleed, not that we cared. walking into the circus tent, we were pleasantly surprised. the arena was tiny, and third class was just a few rows up from first class, who paid at least double what we did. the majority of us had never been to a circus before so we were excited. moroccan circus is similar (smaller) than those in america but different in a few ways. there is little to no emphasis on concessions/food. it is A LOT smaller. there are no elephants, but there were zebras, tigers, horses, alligators and snakes. taking pictures was forbidden at this circus but i managed to sneak a few (but kinda blurry) pictures. these will describe the ridiculousness better than my words can…

dont know what you call this. but this woman was 30 feet off the ground, only wrapped and dancing with a piece of hanging fabric.

majestic arabian dancing and scary prancing horses.

tricks on tightropes. 

tigers jumping through flames.

scary masked men swallowing fire.

a circus isnt complete without a huge man in cheetah undies and his gator friend.

there were also trapeze artists and intense motorcycle rides in round metal cages as well as more animals than those shown above (including a boa snake). we did feel bad for the animals though - some were aggressive looking but all had the same look of fear in their eyes as ring masters cracked their whips. 

overall it was a pretty hilarious experience. nothing like a good circus. 

when i type up my language homework…yeah.

thetimeistudiedabroad:

berber village, atlas mountains.

last weekend i had a trip with my program to a tiny town called bensmim in the atlas mountains of morocco. bensmim is near a slightly bigger town called azrou, where we stopped for lunch on the way to bensmim friday afternoon. once we got to bensmim, we met the berber families that wed be living with (in pairs) for the weekend. my family consisted of mohammed (dad), kenza (mom), and reislin, fatema, and mouna (all sisters). they were all really nice, but it was hard to communicate with them because of their lack of french. they did speak arabic though, which some berber people dont even do. berber, or Amazigh people, speak their own unwritten language, Tamazight. the berber culture is a prominent one in morocco, and so tamazight has been recognized as almost a national language, even though it is not written but merely passed down. 

little bensmim tucked in the hills, view from the top of a nearby hill.

on saturday, we went to a local womens association in Bensmim where 8 women from the town make medicinal herbs/oils/soaps, etc. they gather the plants from the hillsides and make them into products to use and sell. it was really interesting to see these women’s passion for their craft, and their dedication. they are in charge of waking up and feeding the kids, getting them to school (if they go to school) and still, they use all their free time to work in this association. it empowers them as women. 

me with the women of the local ACHIFAE association for medicinal herbs. 

later we met with the director of a local association ASASS. the association works with schools like the little one in Bensmim to better educate berber people in the atlas mountains. it is common for some children not to go to school here, or not to continue on past primary education. womens illiteracy rates are close to 90% in rural areas in morocco like this village. my host sister reislin (15 years old) didnt go to school, but rather acted as the maid in the house; cooking, cleaning, etc. when i asked why she didnt, my other host sister replied, “because she cant read.” well isnt that the reason youre supposed to go to school?! its frustrating and saddening. my other sister mouna is 20 years old and getting married in july, never to pursue a higher education. i cant imagine getting married this year. later we went into azrou to an artisan center and looked around the shops. we then explored out into the town more, and i ended up buying a berber blanket- pure wool - and so pretty. 

sunday we got up, said goodbye to our host families, and drove into azrou. we went hiking from there. it was a little less than 2 hours to the top where we ate lunch (and almost froze to death). it was so nice being out of the business of rabat and in nature, breathing fresh air (something you cant find in rabat where i live). 

hiking in the atlas mountains. 

at the top.

fresh air and breathtaking views. exactly what i needed.

i enjoyed the weekend a lot, it was nice to be out of the urban setting. the lack of care of education, my bossy host sister, the rain, and using squat toilets were frustrating but couldnt have outweighed views like the one above. bensmim is a tiny town, one that i couldnt live in, but one that is nice to visit de temps en temps. 

toilet paper. traffic. strangers need water.

i love moroccan in all its craziness. i thought id write about a few things in one post, just little things that ive been meaning to call attention to.

toilet paper.

or lack thereof. do not expect toilet paper in any public restroom here in morocco, perhaps in this side of the world. they sell little packs of tissues on the streets here for a reason - foreigners will buy them. it is preferred for the right hand to be used in eating, greeting, and other cases - why? - because in Islamic countries, many people use the left hand to clean themselves after using the bathroom. and by clean, i mean wipe. these days,  a lot of people just stick with not using toilet paper when peeing, but perhaps using toilet paper when pooping. only one of the bathrooms in my house ever has toilet paper in it - and its the only one anyone poops in. one gets used to not using toilet paper when peeing. i will admit to not using toilet paper sometimes when i pee (will i resume the consistent habit when i return to the states?) but i cannot say that i have partook in the wiping poop with my left hand way of life. sorry im not sorry about it.

traffic.

oh the chaos. lanes or lines on the street mean nothing here. 2 lanes means 3 or 4 cars across, all bobbing and weaving around. horns are used more frequently than words. there are men on motorcycles/mopeds/moving frames everywhere, bobbing and weaving as well. pedestrians have pride - people are walking across the street everywhere, not waiting for traffic to stop. in some parts of the city, men dragging big carts are combined with everything else. yeah. its absolute and complete chaos. its like a game. it is normal to stand in the middle of the street for a bit while crossing: without medians or grassy strips, just standing and waiting on the line dividing the street (the line that means nothing - cars going one direction will hop over into lanes of incoming traffic if necessary). 

there are grand taxis and petite taxis. we joke that if morocco actually requires drivers licenses (kidding, they do, although not apparent) that the men that fail it become grand taxi drivers. they are crazy, they break laws and shove whole families into their taxis. petite taxis are what i use - they are the ones used for shorter distances. sometimes i get a nice talkative driver who talks to me in french or tries to practice their english, or commends me on my use of moroccan arabic. sometimes, i get a driver that could care less about me, who yells at me to get in or ignores my ‘labas?’ (how are you). once you get a taxi, its not yours. if the driver sees someone else on the street on the way to your destination and their going in the same general direction, he’ll pick them up. ive had a taxi driver stop, roll down his window, and talk to a friend on the street for minutes while me and another woman sat in his cab, trying to get somewhere. also, seat belts mean nothing here. dont know if ive ever seen someone use one.

motorcycles. annoying on the streets in town, more annoying in the tiny one way streets of the medina, where cars cant even drive, and where people, vegetables, and vendors are packed. how many times have i seen a whole dang family on a tiny moped type thing? too many to count. this includes children and babies. yes, i said babies. ive seen babies and enfants smashed between the dad driving and the mom holding on for dear life. ive seen dads driving with one hand and holding a child in the other. i wish i was joking. its scary but almost amusing since its so ridiculous. 

strangers asking for water.

vendors sell huge bottles of mineral water on the streets, and for the few of us who dont care to drink the tap water all the time, we buy them (i get sick enough here without the ridiculous amounts of bacteria in the tap water so i usually stick to bottled water). not many people walk around morocco with whole pitcher sized water bottles so i guess what im about to talk about may make sense. i asked my arabic teacher about it and he said it wasnt really normal, but that ‘everything in morocco is normal haha’ aka dont be surprised by any of the craziness that morocco presents. what im talking about it strangers asking for water. this has happened to me a number of times and its the same motion every time - hand in a fist with your thumb out, tipped back to your mouth. the first time it happened was on the beach during spring break and a little boy playing soccer came up and asked me for water. after realizing what he meant i gave him my water bottle expecting him to take it. nope, he just put his lips to it, drank out of it, and gave it back to me. the most recent time was on the train back from asilah when a dad asked me. i gave him my bottle and he drank it before calling his little girl over to have a drink. he tried to give it back to me but the germ-conscious side of me told him to keep it. in a way, it shows how the moroccan people are so connected, and assume that they can rely on each other. it also shows how little they care about germs. these people dont know me but theyre happy to put their lips all over my water bottle. this can also be seen with street vendors who advertise their vegetables straight on the ground, who touch them with their bare feet or hands - or street food vendors who prepare your kefta sandwich or cheese maloui with bare hands, used for many other activities. there are not many water fountains, but when there are, they come with a metal cup that everyone fills up and drinks out of. the juice stands we stop at on the streets have 3 glass cups that the guy fills up with juice (fresh squeezed in front of you) and simply rinses with water after for his next customer. 

like i said, i love morocco in all its craziness.

beautiful asilah.

last weekend a friend and i went to asilah for the night. asilah is a fortified town in the northwest tip of the moroccan coast, dating back to 1500 BC when the Phoenicians used it as a base for trade. It was conquered and later abandoned by the Portugal, and then used as a base for pirates in the 19th and 20th centuries. now a days, it hosts music and art festivals during the year, including a mural-painting contest. the most beautiful murals remain on the walls for years.

we got there later than expected on friday night so we went to dinner (rice and shrimp yummm) and then just went back and watched a movie. asilah was part of spanish-morocco during the first half of the 20th century - this was made obviously by the menus at restaurants there. some were in spanish, and included things like rice, which you hardly ever really see in moroccan cuisine. 

saturday we woke up, got brunch and explored the medina. like i mentioned, artists visit asilah to paint murals on the white-washed medina walls. its similar to greece but with brilliant artwork on the walls. i LOVED it. 

^one of my favorites.

after exploring the medina for a bit, we got a snack of icecream, candy, and hawaii (a tropical soft drink that the US should DEFINITELY invest in). it makes sense that when we went to the beach afterwards, we passed out on the sand from a combination of sun and sugar overload. we walked around the medina a bit more before going back to the hotel, grabbing our stuff, and heading towards the train station. 

i really loved asilah. it was cleaner than rabat by far (less trash on the streets and on the beach). i loved all the bright color everywhere. doors (like many in morocco) were painted amazing colors and the murals were gorgeous. its safe to say that i have loved every coastal town ive been to in morocco.

police beatings and protests.

yesterday there was a huge demonstration on Mohammad V (the main road through town with the post office, train station, parliament, etc). my friend anna and i were walking home from planning our post-program portugal/spain trip (yayyy!) when we came across the hundreds of moroccans gathered to protest against unemployment. we had seen hoards of men running down the street, chased by cops, towards Moh V while we were sitting at the cafe but we didnt know they were meeting up with hundreds of fellow unemployed citizens. there are signs, flags, and people waving colorful teeshirts. they are loud and restless and passionate but they are not violent. but the police dont like their chants, or feel threatened, or feel the need to show their power. so they chase them, and beat them. at one point, i saw a group of police circle a number of moroccan men and start beating them, until all the men were on the ground, rolling around and bleeding, some not moving. most did not get up for awhile. we kept walking down the street where more protestors chanted from all the corners of the intersection. police and swat team stoodin the middle of the intersection, waiting to take action. others who arent participating stand on the sidelines, watching. i talked briefly with a moroccan guy and he told me he saw a man beaten to death earlier. whether or not he was right, it wouldn’t be surprising. 

i could feel my face getting hot while i watched these men get beaten. the logical side of me had to remind myself not to get involved. i could feel myself hating those cops, or hating the whole system of the regime. i was itching to take pictures. the thing is, in a situation like this, the police will take your camera and break it if they see you taking pictures. you don’t dare take pictures or videos (especially me, with my big hard-to-hide camera) for fear of the police giving you serious trouble. because they know its wrong. they don’t want people knowing they beat their citizens simply because they’re chanting the injustices of the government. but i decided to at least blog about it, because in america, we have free speech. 

there are protests like this a lot in rabat, only a few this big. almost every sunday, sometimes during the week like yesterday. im living in the capital of an arab country during the arab spring. im glad i get to be here during this time to witness this shift. morocco is most likely the least violent or revolutionary arab country during this time but people are still banding together to stand up for what they want. 

this is a photograph i took at a different protest a month or two back. if the protest is organized and peaceful, the police aren’t very active, and not as likely to take your camera.

blood trails and haircuts.

ever been to get your haircut and not been able to communicate? its scary. i went to get my haircut yesterday and the guy barely spoke french, and i, little to no arabic whatsoever. at some point, after struggling at communicating what i wanted done, i said one phrase we both knew in french, “comme tu veux” - “as you like.” it didnt turn out too horribly but he did cut off a good amount of hair, even after my pleads of ‘shiwa’ [arabic for ‘a little.’]

its been raining for 2 or 3 days now. ill try to explain how rain affects life in morocco. i walk to school uphill every morning, it takes 30 mins from my house in the medina to the IES center. and moroccan sidewalks are tile. you know, like bathroom tile; smooth and slippery when wet. its impossible to not find yourself slipping and sliding, trying not to bust your butt. as many of us have been doing in the downpour, i took a cab on the way home yesterday. i will go into detail about traffic and cab drivers in another post but all i can say is, the already scary cab rides are that much more dangerous and scary in the rain. my driver yesterday was driving fast down a hill, in the rain, when the car in front of us slammed on their brakes. i was sure wed hit it, and we slid down the hill even after my driver slammed the brakes. we stopped about a half inch from their bumper. 

the rain makes the medina even nastier that it usually is. the ‘medina’ is the old city, there is one in almost every city in morocco. medina is arab for city. they are walled in, where you find traditional goods, any kind of animal meat you could possibly want, leather goods, vegetables, etc. the roads are narrow and you are always stuck walking behind slow moroccans who you cant get around, or youre always in fear of getting clipped my motorcyclists who insist on riding around the medina. the ground is tile, with patches of concrete, loose tile, patches of dirt, and some of the tiles look like someone took a hammer to them theyre so cracked. when it rains, sludge is the only word i can use to describe the ground. a mixture of dirt, trash, water, pieces of vegetables.

this is where i live. in this chaotic mess of a place. i see new things almost every day. there are hundreds of feral cats [you can hear them fighting and getting raped at night, no lie] who hope they can find scraps of entrails or meat that fall on the ground, or who pick through the piles of trash on the grounds. today for example, i saw a huge truckload of live chickens on my way to school. on my way home, there was a huge river of watery muddy blood running a ways down the middle of my street. 

yeah. T.I.M. [this is morocco.]