So, yeah. There's no 911 in Morocco. If you have an emergency, we have been told to call AmidEast (my study abroad program, a United States government sponsored NGO) because they can get to you faster than even private ambulances, and public ones normally take approximately 2 hour to arrive.
But that's the only thing that Egypt has on Morocco. They have an emergency number (I think its 211). Other than that one amenity, Morocco surpasses Egypt in almost every arena. Here are a list of just a few, aside from the awesomeness of the souk which I mentioned in my last post:
1) The taxis are blue, not yellow. (I think its a Rabat thing) And they're not falling apart. Well, at least not all of them. And they adhere to laws. Like the law that they're only allowed to take up to 3 people. Yesterday there were nine of us who needed to go somewhere. In Egypt we would have taken one, maybe two taxis. Here we took 3. Also, did I mention that they're blue?
2) There are traffic lights. And stop signs. Admittedly, they are adhered much more as "suggestions" than as "laws", but the fact that we don't have cops directing every single intersection, is sort of nice. Here's a picture of my roommate, Lisa, with one of the aforementioned motorized bicycles. Apparently the idea is that if the motor dies, or you run out of gas, its OK, because you can just bike! I sorta want one, but they made us sign, practically in blood, not to drive while we're here.
3) Egypt was cheap, Morocco is cheaper. Last night - going to dinner, cabbing around, having an orange juice at a cafe - cost approximately $4. Its sort of shocking. Oh and I got my cards in the mail today (IDs, debit card, and insurance card) BUT my debit card STILL doesn't work. I'm getting better at being frugal, but I don't know how much longer I can last. I think I could keep this up for about 2 more weeks. I have 400 dirham.
4) I can JOG! I have gone jogging in the park up the road for the last two mornings. I go with a friend or two at 6:30am when its cool and people are still sleeping after their shuhur meal, and I RUN. I RUN IN AN ARAB COUNTRY AND AM NOT HARASSED! (poo poo poo). Like the blue taxis, this might just be just a Rabat thing, as it is the political capital of this city, or maybe just a Ramadan thing, but it is SO refreshing not to be catcalled...I'll enjoy it while it lasts.
5) I have yet to see a MaybeDead person! I saw one every other week or so in Egypt, but none here (poo poo poo!). But, I just found out today, that I'll be living in the Old City (Medina) in the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) which is going to be in a relatively seedy, but also ancient and awesome part of Rabat which houses the synagogue and one kosher restaurant called Le Circle (Nine of us last night had an adventure last night finding it only to realize that it's actually NOT open during Ramadan. I think its a bar during the rest of the year). My host mother and father are more like host grandmother and host grandfather. She's in her 50s and he's in his 70s! She's a housewife and he's retired. Their kids all live in France, they have a beautiful big house, and she cooks a lot. And they keep kosher. I'm stoked.
6) FRENCH. Grrrrrrrrr. As my cab driver explained it: It's all about who occupied whom. The English occupied Egypt, so they speak English -- but they don't. And the French occupied Morocco, so they speak French -- which they do!
In other ways, Morocco is just the same as Egypt. There are the same *Gay?*Men (i.e. men who hold hands and caress one another in public). The same cats (picture) and mice guts on the streets, evidence of snack times past. Same cafe/makolet/street vendor culture which, though weird now because its Ramadan, will, I'm sure, provide ample places to people watch. Same men who shout anything they know in English at you whether it be curse words "Where you from?", "Welcome!" or "Spice Girls!", or "Is the circus in town?" (if there are a lot of us walking together).
We went to the beach today, fully clothed, or at least most of us were. We played soccer, volleyball (with the soccer ball), and waded in the water. Then we watched the sunset from the jetty. Lovely. And then came the nightly search for food during Ramadan. I ended up with nuts and bread and fruit. Typical fare. Everyone else managed to get pizza or kofta (Arab sausage). Then we went out to Hotel Balima (I call it Hotel Bulimia) for tea/coffee/juice. Cute.
Side note, slightly related to Hotel Bulimia: My friend today was talking to some Moroccans and when she was ready to go she said what she thought was the Moroccan word for "goodbye" which is "bislama" literally, "in peace". Instead she said "bismiallah" which means "in the name of God" which is the beginning of the Shahada or "testimony" which is a statement of affirmation of Muslim belief. Dyslexia is one of my favorite things in foreign languages. We all have it, and it makes for some amusing anecdotes.
And for the song, today's artist is Gomez, who I was introduced to by a good friend of mine who is now music major, so you know it has to be good. Ambivalently upbeat both in music and lyrics, the song (live) is called Hamoa Beach.