Picture perfect

September 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Good morning! 1 of 3...

Were I to write a paper on my first week in Morocco, I’d start as any LHS graduate would: with a thought map. Forget the bubble map and flow-chart; my pre-writing tool of choice would have to be a Venn diagram.  Expectations on the left, reality on the right, and that uniformly overlapping shape in the middle as the “yet to be resolved.” Insects in the morning would be a reoccurring theme. My vocabulary list would be spastically dotted with classical Arabic, ungodly attempts at derija, and franglish as a last resort. My organization nil, perspective in and out of the proper “person”, and I doubt I’d be able to reference anyone but myself. All in all, it’s a work in progress.

Did I mention we went to a halal McDonalds, jet-ski races, and I met a Peace Corps volunteer? Ok so I’d add better transitions in a polished paper as well.

Yesterday I was scolded by Aoufiya for taking a picture of a man with his chickens (“why you take? That ugly!”) and later for taking a picture of schlada, the Moroccan Arabic name for salad.

"it's only salad!"

I’m discovering that my host family (perhaps not all Moroccans) prefers me to document what is conventionally beautiful. I.E., these photographs at a family member’s villa and better food.

Appropriate photo-opp

First authentic Moroccan couscous

Evidently, if I’m to indulge my tourist tendency to photograph the mundane, I need to be sneaky. I had a family-free outing today as Robert and I hopped in a petit taxi and were whisked away to Marjane (emphasis on the “j”). Whether environmentally or fiscally motivated, taxi drivers here often stop to pick up additional passengers en route depending on their destination. Marjane is basically a large shopping mall with a grocery store. Besides a total immersion, the next best advice I can give to someone wanting to learn a language is to visit grocery stores, where aisle markers and in this case children’s books are helpful ways to review.

For Janalee

We returned to an angry matriarch. Learning from my mistake, I let her know right away that I was to begin my first day at the gym in a few hours.

I arrived early to get my registration and fees taken care of. This month, I will be taking le yoga twice a week and l’aerobics three times a week for roughly $50.  When I showed up at the Ass Paradise club, only the two women who run the place and a man were in the foyer. The man, I would later learn, was Fouid, the yoga instructor.  After the small talk (“you from amrika?”) and some name butchering, Fouid and I went to the dance floor/stretching space. The room has strange wood paneling and mock tree-branch light fixtures, a low ceiling, and a poster of Jessica Alba in Honey.

What's with these branches sticking out of the wall and lights?

So far it was just me and Fouid, setting up mats. Like the teachers pet that I am, I sat right in the front. Just as Fouid was explaining that I needed to sit in the back of the room, another man walked in as if on cue and presently took a seat in the front. He was joined by another man and then another. So much for the all-women’s gym! Four men and me. Somehow I found a bit of ohm, even though my concentration was broken when the instructor answered his cell phone, the CD player (blasting what I’m pretty sure was the Romy and Michelle soundtrack) kept skipping, and smoke blew through the window. After what was probably the most relaxation-oriented yoga session of my life, I didn’t feel quite as tense. I got up to leave, surprised to see a handful of women in the lobby. Did I accidentally miss that women’s specific class? Who knows. I just muttered a thanksseeyalater and walked down the stairs past the photography store and teleboutique.

On my walk home, I caught a whiff of what I was sure couldn’t be popcorn. But of all things to have in the medina, there it was! And the reality side of my Venn diagram grows…

never say never

Tomorrow I am taking my first solo train ride to Kenitra to meet with Prof Ghouati. We are to discuss options for auditing the French classes at Université Ibn Tofail. Thursday I’m finally meeting with Mme F.R., my internship director, face to face. Week One is officially over. Bring on the next.


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