We’ve learned a few lessons today:
BBQ means breakfast in Morocco, apparently.
Do not assume Moroccan men are married.
“Feta” does not necessarily mean Feta.
Egregious means Outstandingly Bad.
I prefer only cold showers to only hot ones.
And probably a thousand more, but that’s definitely a start. Today has been really great – about a thousand times better than yesterday with all the stress of getting here and moving in and all that. We woke up and actually knew where we were, which was a huge improvement to our naps yesterday. Last night we flipped a coin and Mack got the good room with the double bed, but we’re having fun making them our own. I have two twins to deal with, but at the moment one is just a suitcase holder, so that will have to work until we get back from Spain, where we’re headed tomorrow, by the way!
Since school doesn’t start for us until September 30th, Mack and I decided a few months ago that we would go backpacking for the first month we’re over here. So tomorrow we set sail (after a long train ride to Tangier) for Tarifa, Spain, and begin a little tour around Spain and Portugal before heading back town for school orientation.
This morning we slept in big time – Mack had to wake me up around 1:30 so that we could actually do something with our day. I woke up to a text from Nabil, asking us why we had missed his barbecue. When he invited us the night before, we were sure he meant dinner, but apparently BBQ is a breakfast thing over here! It was really nice taking our time and not stressing out about anything since our list wasn’t that long for the day.
Our first stop was the Gare de Train to buy our tickets to Tangier for tomorrow. I was really impressed with my sense of direction, which is usually terrible. I somehow managed to lead us along the Medina walls and down to Boulevard Mohammed V, the Main Street in Nouvelle Ville Rabat. It’s really exciting to sort of know my way around somewhere like this! It was just the two of us, so there’s obvious concern being two blond, white girls walking through the streets alone, but we had no trouble at all. The rule I learned about street harassment in Morocco last time I was here is that you should ignore any verbal harassment, but once someone touches you you’re allowed to get mad and react and make a scene. It’s upsetting that that’s the way it is, and a little alarming how quickly you get used to it, but in the end street harassment is a huge issue everywhere. In fact, so far I think I had worse street harassment in London than Rabat. We were totally fine.
After getting our train tickets, we had a quick stop at McDonald’s to use their wifi, which incidentally was not working. It was still a good McFlurry stop, though, so all was not lost. We did have wifi in the apartment, but it’s incredibly slow and was leant to us by our “hosts” downstairs, so we wanted a bit of a better connection. We could have gone to a cyber cafe, but we decided to just get groceries instead.
We picked up some necessities like bath mats, laundry detergent and more water, and then headed back home to do laundry and relax. We finally got our laundry machine working (after some struggle with the water), and had a chance for a breather.
Next we decided to check out the rooftop terrace of our building. We’re already on the 5th floor, so the roof is just one more flight of stairs. The view was breathtaking. We’re two blogs from the ocean, so from the roof we have a full view of the Atlantic, along with a 360 of Rabat. We could see over the Medina and all the way across the old city to the Tour Hassan. There are all sorts of Minarets from Mosques jutting out of the city, and just near us is the biggest cemetery I’ve ever seen in my life. The best part? There was a beautiful breeze. It’s been so hot here; I could have stayed up there all day.
We were invited to have dinner with our neighbours downstairs, but we had a bit of confusion with the whole thing. Mack and I were under the impression that we’d be dining with the whole family we met yesterday, but when we had gone down earlier about our broken toilet, we discovered that it, in fact, was not a big family, and Nabil was inviting us over to have dinner with just him. We both felt a little bit uncomfortable with that, perhaps unnecessarily, but we decided we’d rather not go down just the two of us for dinner with a man we didn’t know. Especially in such a conservative country, the offer just felt a little bit odd, and we’re both all about playing it on the safe side!
We ended up having a great, relaxing night instead. We didn’t have any food, so we took another trip to the grocery store. By this time it was getting late, so we thought it best to cover up for our walk. We both wore our head scarves, and it felt really good! We’ve been told by lots of different people that that’s unnecessary, but walking alone at night with blond hair just felt a little bit too much. It’s funny when people talk about things like head scarves and burqas saying that women are “unfeminist” for wearing them or that they’re a sign of oppression. We felt completely comfortable, and even empowered wearing them. I felt a lot less “on display” than I do sometimes in even Canada, so it’s interesting to look at the difference. On the other hand, the fact that we felt more comfortable in head scarves points to a bigger issue in the society here where women don’t feel safe in the social sphere.
We’re off to Spain tomorrow!