Thursday, December 29, 2011

Five Month Watsoversary

Technically, I’m already a day into my sixth month (I blame my parents’ visit for the fact that I'm posting this one day late). In yesterday’s conglomeration of medina wandering, ocean walks, and storytelling over mint tea and avocado smoothies, a blog posting felt a little less significant.

I’ve gotten to be a little spoiled this past month. Looking back at all of these watsoversaries, this past month was perhaps, a little anticlimactic. (I'm not complaining). I’ve been in Rabat the whole time with enough stability to meet with lots of people about my research, make myself breakfast every morning and go grocery shopping at a vegetable market right near my house. It’s been wonderful to see some familiar faces in the last month and let friends and family treat me to a couple comfortable beds in beautiful Riads and enough tajines to make my heart (and stomach) content. Although there are always daily challenges when traveling—language barriers to combat, landmarks to remember, and cultural flubs, it’s largely been a month of stability. That's part of why it's going to be hard to tear myself away from Rabat in less than two weeks.

In the past month I have:

-Visited a Moroccan hammam (public bathhouse) and got cleaner than I’ve probably ever been in my life.

-Had my hands covered with Moroccan henna (and compared the Rabat designs with those from Mysore, India).

-Was a guest speaker at a local school.

-Received the first piece of mail of my Watson year away.

-Done a lot of catsitting.

-Cooked with vegetables from a Moroccan CSA

-Met a new friend who, in the ultimate small world coincidence, was a counselor at the tiny, all girls, bilingual summer camp in St. Donat, Quebec where I was a camper from ages 11-14. (Of course I would meet her in Rabat, Morocco).

-Spent a lot of time bundled up by the ocean.

-Tried on a takchita.

-Spent a few nights in the Fez medina, believed to be the world’s largest car-free urban area and home to the University Al-Karaouine (founded in 859 AD) which is believed to be the oldest (still functioning) university.

-Had my first visits from friends and family of the year.

-Been rowed across the river between Rabat and Sale

-Learned how to make spring rolls. In Morocco. (Sign of globalization #23434).

-Had a Christmas Eve alone.

-Celebrated Christmas without a tree or gift wrap or stockings or home.

-Honed my bargaining skills and walked away with four small Moroccan rugs.

-Fallen in love with the new Rabat-Sale tramway system.

-Cooked chocolate chip cookies and apple pie in a toaster oven (sign of desperation rather than resourcefulness after five months out of the U.S….)

-Due to a genius Christmas present from my cousin Chris, spent way more time doing the New York Times Crossword puzzle online than I would like to admit. (Wednesdays-Sundays are still a big challenge).

-Can now make basic conversation in Moroccan Arabic, as long as the person I’m speaking to wants me to identify all the food on a table, the days of the week, or count to ten.

I feel fortified by my visitors, content from the recent holidays, and ready to ring in the New Year and seven more months of adventure.


  1. Mumtaz post, Nell! What an amazing list of accomplishments. So happy for you! I hope your holidays were wonderful.

  2. You were an integral part of most of the things on this list, Miss McLinden. (Ouareau connection is still the one that amazes me most). Hope home is absolutely wonderful. Maroc is not the same without you.

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  4. enjoyed reading your post on the five-month whatsoversary. we think of you often. be well.