Sunday, November 20, 2011

Scenes of Settling

Okay, so I know that I've kind of fallen in love with every place I've visited so far this year, but it's happened again. And this time, it's really a Rabat-where-have-you-been-all-my-life-we're-soulmates-kind of love. I'm already plotting how I could get a job here once my Watson year is over.

I haven't posted a lot lately because all of my photos would pretty much exclusively be of the kitchen of my new apartment or of the ocean. (Not that there's anything wrong with that). I continue to be going on a serious domestic kick as I settle into this apartment and make vast amounts of chicken noodle soup that is more than Rachel (my roommate) and I could ever possibly eat.
The first step to making chicken noodle soup in Rabat.

A bit of background on Rabat: It's Morocco's capital with a population of 1.7 million (in other words, it feels tiny after many Indian cities). It's not that popular of a tourist destination because there aren't many sights to see in Rabat itself, but it's a big academic and cosmopolitan place, as well as an ex-pat hub.

The city is divided into the old medina (left) and the ville nouvelle (right).

The beach, cemetery and walls of the Oudaya.

It's also a deliciously photogenic place, especially the old medina and the Oudayas at the center of the city which are covered in blue paint.

I've spent the last few days getting the lay of the land and wandering through Rabat's nooks and crannies while I wait for various research contacts to e-mail me back. I've also started some Darija (Moroccan Arabic) tutoring--just a few lessons to make my interactions with neighbors and shopkeepers slightly more comprehensible. My head is spinning with French and Arabic and English (and somehow Indonesian as well), but it's giving me some structure and helping me understand this place.

Perhaps most exciting of all is that after four months of solo travel, I have a social life! Thanks to living with a roommate who's around my own age, I've been connected to some amazing people in Rabat, and it's really nice to settle in here with some movie nights and red wine (how I've missed you...)

I'm hoping to get started on some interviews about Moroccan names next week (and also might be talking to a group of high school students about my project), but in the meantime, I've been adoring having empty days of wandering around in 60-degree weather, taking it all in.

I think this love is here to stay.

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