A First Look at the Maghreb

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Travel is beautiful in its coincidences. I’m finally on the road again, and the girl flying next to me from New York to Casablanca goes to school in Southern Mississippi, only hours from me!

“Hey girl!” is a friendly, subtly Southern phrase I’ve learned in my time in Mississippi. I feel comfort in its familiarity as I face the uncertainty of a new country.

When I arrive, it is 3 am New York time, meaning it is time to begin chugging coffee. In a broken mixture of English, French and Arabic, I order my first Moroccan cappuccino. And so, I begin a trend of mixing broken vocabulary in different languages as I journey to the Morocco’s capital, Rabat.

Moroccan train ride
Morocco’s trains are modern and inexpensive. The trip from the airport—two trains, one taxi and not quite two hours—costs me less than $10 USD.

I am quite exhausted, but I still have to take a placement test at school. For a language student, practicing the language is necessary even when extremely fatigued, because language too easily becomes rusty. Indicative of this is how my high school French is essentially non-functional. It is too bad that frustration over verb conjugations and seven years of flash cards have gone to waste!

Finally, my host family takes me home for some Maghrebi tea. Host mom is not home yet, but she made some pastries—not nearly as sweet as American ones, but very crumbly and delicious.

 

First family dinner in Rabat
Moroccan dinner is served very late. After five o’clock tea and pastries, dinner isn’t until ten.
My host family's home in the Old Medina
My family lives in the Old Medina. Houses have traditional architecture and are very beautiful.

Tomorrow is my first day of class—who knows what Morocco has yet to bring?

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