Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Of All the Gin Joints

Admittedly, I was only in Casablanca for about an hour and the number of movie references I've been making is pretty disproportionate to that.

Now that that's taken care of, hello again world! I'm in North Africa! Can you believe it? (I can't really).

Due to Monday’s airshow in Dubai (?) my plane got in late from Delhi on Monday and Emirates informed me that even though I could make the flight to Casblanca, my bag wouldn’t be able to be transferred in time, and there are apparently security regulations about people arriving ahead of their bags. Long story short, they told me I would have to wait a day before getting on the next flight to Casablanca. I was near tears about this until I arrived at the hotel they were putting me up in, saw how comfortable and clean my room was (reminder: I've had weeks of budget hotels and squat toilets in India) and saw the copious amounts of hummus and green olives and baklava at the buffet lines. I forgave Emirates for everything pretty quickly.

After a day of food and sleep in a hotel I would not otherwise have been able to afford, I finally flew from Dubai to Casablanca on Tuesday. I then took two trains to get to Rabat. My (quite rusty) French was already put into effect when an elderly drunk Moroccan man was eager to be friends on the train. We were also sitting near a young woman who goes to a British University in Rabat, so between her English and French, my minimal French, and this man’s French and Arabic, we had a lovely cross-cultural triangulation in which she would translate his sentences, mainly, “What color hair does your mother have? And your father?” and “You should act in the cinema.” He informed me that I was beautiful, but not as beautiful as Elizabeth Taylor. (Still getting over that blow to my ego). I also discovered that my French sounds a lot like garbled Indonesian these days.

Due to the generosity of an amazing friend and Swarthmore alum who had a Fulbright in Morocco, I've already been in touch with a small community of ex-pats and Moroccans living here. A few frantic housing e-mails later, I came in touch with Rachel, a fantastic American woman who organizes study abroad programs here. In an extreme stroke of luck, she was looking for a subletter and I was looking for a place. She’s been living in Rabat for three years, so she’s a great person to show me the ropes.

Best of all, because I’m subletting, it means I’m staying in the same place for the next six weeks (at least). I am basking in constant wi fi and hot water and the ability to cook for myself after a few weeks of gallivanting across India (and, let's be honest, "gallivanting across India" usually meant trying not to be run over or trampled or lost).

I’m living in L’Ocean, a residential area in Rabat which is, you guessed it, right on the ocean. This is the view from the balcony of our apartment.

On one side….

And the other…

(Yep, that's the ocean).

I feel very very very lucky.

I’m surprised by how much of Rabat actually reminds me of India, just minus a lot of people. (When I got off the train in Rabat and didn’t see tons of crowds, I actually thought something was wrong).

I've been here 24 hours now and spent the day getting oriented, wandering around and relishing in small comforts….

—like how great it feels to have a path to walk on right by the ocean. (It’s also a great spot for running, something my body will both love and hate me for since it’s been four months since that’s been a possibility…)

--and wandering around the marketplace in the old medina.

--and walking around town with a tote bag stocking up on groceries—stopping at one food stall for olives, another for vegetables, another for milk and yogurt and cheese, another for nuts and dates.

--and the fact that I can unpack and and have some sense of permanence (even a fleeting one), and basically, make myself a home.

I never realized how much of a nester I was until the sight of my clothes in drawers this morning actually made me smile.

No comments:

Post a Comment