Check out the whole pic on my Twitter @GhastEald. Totally worth it. #archeology #architecture #design #magicalmorocco #gaytravel #Meknes #mosque #travel #africa #tourism by perrytrails http://ift.tt/1J5DWtN
- Over the two days before my colleagues’ and my departure for Meknes, American Councils (the organization overseeing our entire Moroccan experience) brought us to Washington, D.C. for a pre-departure orientation. The word “orientation” fails to capture the sheer quantity of information American Councils staff and affiliates dumped on us at their offices. From presentations on the importance of cultural literacy for linguistic fluency to alumni Meknesi survival tips to a terrifying presentation on leishmaniasis, we were awash in preparedness. In addition to absorbing reams of advice, we all engaged in the frantic acquaintance-making that seems the universal occupation of students preparing for extended time abroad.
- Then we flew, taking United Airlines on an eight-hour trip from Dulles to Frankfurt. I leaned back the seat and took perverse enjoyment in the turkey meatloaf served us out of a hot tin and bathed in sauce of indeterminate, salty flavor. Afterwards, I watched Chappie and thoroughly enjoyed what amounted to a Pixar film with blood, guts, and South African counterculture rappers (seriously) despite the film playing on a dimly-lit screen barely bigger than my handspan.
- We had a ten-hour layover in Frankfurt and, due to some quirk of program regulations, were not allowed to leave the airport. Those readers who have been to Frankfurt’s international airport know that it epitomizes frigid Teutonic architectural sensibilities (think Bauhaus). I browsed a spotless duty-free store, actively shunning mental conversion of the item prices from euros to dollars after spotting a five-ounce jar of jam retailing for about $25. Then I slept for a bit on a row of chairs in our terminal’s waiting area, bantered with my new friends on the program, and fretted about my checked baggage and its safety.
- From Frankfurt to Casablanca we flew four hours on Lufthansa, arriving bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived.
-And the journey still wasn’t over: we were met on the other side of the luggage check by the one and only Chase Smithburg (our almighty resident director) and his staff companions, who sat us on buses and drove us for four more hours from Casa to Meknes.
- In Meknes, we finally relaxed. Nobody had lost any luggage, and we had all reached like states of exhaustion. So we breakfasted on a delicious spread prepared for us by our language center’s (AALIM) staff and had our first taste of Moroccan tea. One of the smiling staffers poured the steaming drink from bronze tea kettle into little glass cups which we took gratefully and sipped slowly. A taste of the hot, sugary liquid, a whiff of the mint bouquet hovering over it, and we were transported. That, or a tired delirium had already taken hold of our minds.
- Our host families arrived shortly thereafter. My roommate Bryce and I loaded our bags into the back of our host father’s dusty VW Golf and we roared into Meknes’s outer neighborhoods. On arriving at the house, we toured our quarters briefly and showered to cleanse us of the sweat and grime accumulated over several thousand miles of intercontinental travel. Bryce fell asleep immediately while I compulsively rearranged the room and my things therein. After a bit I tumbled onto the mattress and settled into a dreamless sleep.
Some pictures of Meknes that I never got around to posting.
They were repainting the mural near Cinema Camera.
I used to pass by this wall every day on my way to my favorite cafe (Promenade Palace). As I stopped to take this picture that day, some of the other painters seated near me to the right (neither of whom pictured) said to me in broken English, after staring for a long time:
“Welcome to Morocco!”
And I was like “😒..” (because I used to hear this like every single day, simply for being white and blonde, and clearly not Moroccan). But as well-meaning as they may have been, this was really aggravating to hear after being in Morocco for twelve months.
I said back in English, “you knoow, I’m not new here..!”
And they were like, “??” (*not actually understanding english*)
So I said in darija, “I’ve been here for a year, I’m not new!”
And then they laughed amongst themselves, feeling both silly and surprised I spoke their language.
Mwaha, that was the ONE time I even had the time and courage to sass the guys in the street who “welcomed” me. Honestly lots of times it just felt like an excuse for them to get my attention….. Another reason I never wanted to speak back. But I also kinda wanted to tell them to stop assuming so much about people..
Not that my words would have made a difference. 😬
you know, it is sad but just from my experience, it is so hard for me to expect the best from the Moroccan guys I meet. I wanted to feel like they were truly sincere when they said those words, but honestly…., they probably were more concerned about getting laid and/or inflating their egos. Moroccans in general are very very nice but also there are a lot of creepsters out there 😝
Hello!!! I’m back with more Adventure-time tales :) This is coming late though. It’s for last weekend but one. I didn’t have Wi-Fi so…yeah. I’ll post the one for this last weekend within the next few days.I had written this a while back. Enjoy!! This weekend was another epic experience which started out in Ifran, the second cleanest city in the world, or so I found out when I was leaving. I was…
- Third blog’s the charm - you will find my previous accounts of Jordan and Oman here and here, respectively.
- Here you can read about my year abroad studying العربية with the Arabic Overseas Flagship Program (AOFP) in Meknes, Morocco. I’ll spend the majority of my time studying in and exploring around that city, given the intense academic commitment the program requires. Still, with weekends generally free and Morocco affording so many opportunities for adventure, you’ll also read about backpacking trips, camel treks, and other peregrinations.
- Some notes about your writer: I’m Daniel Meschter, a student studying Arabic and Economics at the University of Oklahoma. While some of you may have seen me walk in academic regalia this past May and get sweet diploma cases, I remain technically matriculated at OU (for scholarship reasons). On my return stateside in May of next year, I’ll get my B.A. diploma and dive full on into vaunted real world.pursuits (ان شاء الله).
- Over the coming year I have a straightforward academic goal: to attain superior-level proficiency in Arabic, according to ACTFL standards. For students like myself who are with the program for a whole year at the conclusion of their undergraduate studies (the “capstone” year), the aim is to speak, read, write, and listen at the superior level by next May. I’ll write more on what such proficiency entails and its connection to cultural immersion in future posts.
- On a more personal level, I hope to experience becoming an adult in a foreign country. After living with Moroccan family this summer, I plan to rent an apartment in Meknes with a few colleagues and live there for the fall and spring. It’ll be my first time home-hunting and paying rent out of pocket - independent living indeed.
- Finally, I have plenty of of chances to explore Morocco proper and one longer break during which I hope to travel to Spain, France, and Italy. This last trip may be the last time in a long while that I can get to Europe. While I’m in the region, I may as well seize the opportunity to hear some Catalan, see the French Riviera, and enjoy genuine Italian cuisine.