Friday, August 21, 2009

Day One All Alone

So I woke up at 8am this morning before my alarm, having gotten 10 hours of glorious sleep in a bed where I only saw one bug and was too tired to care. The rest of this hotel, though, is perfectly clean. In fact, I was impressed with the cleanliness of Morocco all around today.

I had 200 dirham on loan from the program that had been dropped off at the hotel (AmidEast is a wonderful organization) and had to budget it for my day. And so far so good.

So today's a national holiday, and I was slightly worried I wouldn't find anything open or be able to get a cab. But I walked outside, made sure I remembered the name of my hotel (Oumlil) and walked to the closest (same block) corner store to buy phone charge, tissues, and a big bottle of water (I hadn't had anything to drink since the flight to Paris the day before since I'm afraid to drink the tap water here -- I was parched!). That went well. When I say "that went well" I mean I wasn't ripped off. And getting a cab went well. I only paid 12 dirham (about $1.50) for my 15 minute ride there.

I don't think that Marjane (which is basically a Moroccan Carrefour with lots of comforting, potentially kosher French products) is ever very busy at 10am when I arrived. But it got busy. There weren't enough cashiers. The lines were super-long and not moving very fast. The kids with their parents were antsy. And then there was a shopper revolt. I kid you not. One man started it. He asked people to clap and walk out in protest. No one walked out, but people made noise. They clapped and stomped. What's nice is that most of them didn't take it so seriously and were able to chuckle a little bit (I joined the chuckling...not the clapping). The manager came out to deal with the situation and there was a screaming match. It was really fun.

As soon as I got out of the shopping area I sat down to eat. I had only eaten an apple, a cliff bar and a luna bar yesterday, so food tasted GOOD. I was sitting at a sandwich/coffee spot and got some funny looks for eating my bread straight, but I was too hungry to care. On the way back I saw a guy on a motorized bicylce. Right. I thought it was a motorcycle until I saw him peddling. Then I was confused, because he was going as fast as the cars -- uphill. I still don't fully understand the chrank it was. I hope to clarify in future posts.

So Morocco's pretty, or at least what I've seen of Rabat, which is home to 1.2 million Moroccans (thank you to The Google). There are very few foreigners except for those who live and work at the consulates, which are located here as it is the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco. It's hilly, there are wide side, clean walks, sweet colonial architecture, and trees. Lots. And there are far fewer hijabed women than I saw in Alex. Also - the French is going to be annoying. I mean the fact that I don't speak it. Everything's in French, and people switch mid-conversation from Arabic to French like tossing a ball from one hand to the other. No big deal. They also assume you know French. Which you don't. Maybe I'll pick some up...?

I've spent the early afternoon surfing the interwebs, reading, listening to Arabic music and watching a little Egyptian Arabic TV to get back into the groove. Apparently this double room is all mine until Sunday. Rock on. I probably won't leave it much tomorrow, unless I manage to find the synagogue. I have the address.

So the first song I heard by Geoff Berner was called "Lucky God Damn Jew" but I deemed it inappropriate for this blog (its kinda funny if you wanna youtube it), then I listened to "Whisky Rabbi" and deemed THAT inappropriate as well. So instead I went with this one, called "Iron Grey." Mostly because I liked how he did the video. Oh and he plays the accordion. Sweet.

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