24 June 2010

Welcome Back to Morocco!

Salamu 3likom from Morocco! I've been back here since Monday, and it's remarkable how I feel like I never left. It took me exactly 1 hour to fall back into my comfortable patter, my comfortable way of existing. That hour was how long it took us to get from our seats on the airplane to the baggage claim in the Casablanca airport. :-) My skills were put to the test immediately because my co-leader's baggage was lost by (surprise of all surprises) Iberia airlines. Fortunately, he speaks French, so he can deal with the airport employees while I took our students outside.

When we arrived, we were met by Hamza, an American who works for the center where we are working and learning Arabic now. He helped us load on to two minibuses, and, after my co-leader finished getting the information he needed about his bag, we headed off to Marrakech. As jet-lagged as I was, I was too excited to sleep. I watched the fields pass as we drove south on the one highway in Morocco, and remembered the times I had traveled this way. The train rides to Rabat for volunteer trainings, the time Youssef and I drove up to Casa to pick my dad up from the airport, Nicole and Ismail's wedding last year, and also a little bit of our first ever bus ride in Morocco, when my future life friends were just strangers on a bus.

The first day, all we did was hand out cell phones and a weekly stipend of (gasp! so much!) 400 dirhams to the students, and then we sent them off with their host families. Thankfully, each family has a host brother or sister who speaks English well enough to facilitate communication, so we didn't have to worry about the students. And then my co-leader and I were each shown our apartments. His is shared with two University of Georgia students who are here, also studying Modern Standard Arabic. It is very French (we are living in the old French quater, after all), and very fancy, with marble countertops and new couches and pillows, and nice wood furniture all around.

MY apartment is not as fancy, on an American scale, but it is FANTASTIC compared to my previous experience with apartments in Morocco. I am in a complex of two apartments, so I have a gate, and a mini garden where I can leave the bike I am using right now. The apartment has a large living/dining room, a decent sized kitchen, a seperate bedroom with a window into the living room, and a wide wrap-around roof/balcony. And of course, there's a nice bathroom with not ONLY a sit-down toilet, but also a shower with an electric hot water heater. The most awesome element of my apartment, however, is the air conditioner! I can't believe how lucky I am to have AC during a deathly Marrakech summer... The staff at the language center keeps apologizing for the state of the apartment, but I couldn't be happier. It is a bit dirty from the previous tenants, but that's a small price to pay.

The school/language center where we are working is also fabulous. There are air conditioners in each classroom, which of course makes learning that much easier. For this first week, the students are learning Darija, and the teachers are using what's called the communicative method. It's teaching the way that babies originally learn languages, without translation. So the teacher in the class that I attend has spoken less than 10 sentences of English during the last 4 days of class. It's great for me to review my Darija, but I can't imagine learning the language this way. It must be so frustrating. No wonder babies cry so much!

This weekend should be good, and I have a bit of time off, so hopefully I'll be able to update a bit more...

Until then, happy Thursday from Morocco!

1 comment:

LGW said...

An AC and an electric hot water heater? Is this heaven or Morocco?

Just remember how expensive dou is! -- Warda