27 June 2011

Expedition...

I'm back in the U.S. Coming here yesterday... and leaving on Saturday ...that was really hard. I can't really talk about what happened yet, it's too fresh. But it's really strange being back. I feel like I went to sleep last August, and just woke up today, 15 pounds heavier, after a really long and really strange dream. I guess that's good, that I feel comfortable here, but I want to make sure I remember everything I learned this year, everything that happened.

So I figured, what's the best way to keep Morocco "alive" for me than watch this new show called "Expedition: Impossible" These teams of Americans do an "extreme" race through the "wild" nature of Morocco. It's a wonderful show full of tens of thousands of eye-rolling moments. And nice little side comments by the Moroccans who are staring at these funny looking Americans. "Why is the gay team wearing knee high socks?" "I would never marry a woman like that!" Such good commentary, I kind of wish they would have hired a Marrakech guy to just follow them around and give the Moroccan perspective of what they are saying, doing, and wearing.

I'm not sure how I feel, in this episode, with the "snake charmers" as part of the race. Since I didn't live in the Sahara, I don't know for sure, but I doubt that that activity is authentic to that area. Then again, there are a lot of snakes in the desert.

We'll see if there is anything worth writing about next week....

14 June 2011

A Quiet Monday Night Thought

Over a year ago, I started this blog, thinking I would post maybe 2 or 3 times a week about Morocco. I was back from Morocco the first time, and ready to head back to my second home for another year. I wanted to post about Moroccan culture, traditions, and people, because I felt like I was having to explain a lot to people back at home about Morocco, and it was just easier to post about it, and then email everyone I cared about once a month or so. It was a "Third Goal" effort: teach Americans about the country in which you serve. It was also a catharsis effort, so that I would be able to attempt to show people why I was (and still am) so fascinated by this country.

For the first few months, I kept up the effort, but after a while, I got caught up in my life here. I didn't write much anymore, I didn't post anything longer than a few paragraphs. And that's okay. I felt like I did a good job of continuing to post many (too many?) articles on Facebook, so that anyone who cared could read a little bit more about what was going on here. I failed, really, to continue my goal here though. Can't do anything about that now, but looking back, I wish I could have chronicled my reactions and thoughts about the historical changes that were happening in the Arab world, and how theses changes manifested themselves in Morocco.

For example, I will always remember that I was sitting at the Grande Terrasse cafe near the Royal Theater in Rabat, downloading on their fast internet connection, when I looked up and saw the speech Hosni Mubarak made to announce he was leaving. I wish I had written about that then.

But it's okay. Now I am days away from leaving Morocco. I say to most people I'm leaving "for good," but anyone who knows me well knows that this place and these people - as I mentioned in my last post - will always pull me back. I don't know when, and I am grateful that this time I am not scheming to return... yet. I am grateful that I know what kind of emotions I will experience when I go back. Even though it won't make them any easier, I am trying to console myself with the fact that they are normal.

This year hasn't been my greatest. I did some things that I regret, and some things that maybe I should regret, but don't. I was really on my own for the first time in my life, no school or parents or university or international agency to hold me responsible, and I learned a lot of hard but valuable lessons about myself.

I learned that I am not as strong as I want to be, but a lot stronger than I was. I learned that my moral compass doesn't always point north, and that I should consider and/or care about the consequences of my actions more. I learned that speaking your own opinions can bring out the best and the worst in people. I learned that sometimes, no matter how much I work towards something, I could fail, spectacularly, but I also learned that I am not a bad person because I failed at something at which I desperately thought I needed to succeed. I was reminded that living abroad is hard, and that I don't deal with change as well as I would like to think. I was reminded how blessed I am to have the life that I have. I was reminded that time heals wounds, whether you want it to or not. I was reminded that I can cook, but most of the time, I choose convenience over healthy food. I was reminded that I am beautiful, smart, and a good person at heart, despite what societies may tell me.

Morocco will be part of my life and my soul forever. After all, I've been here a total of 37 months over the past 4 years:

September 2007 - November 2009: 26 months
June 2010 - July 2010: 2 months
September 2010 - June 2011: 9 months

Hopefully, I'll be able to carry those months with me while still moving on and continuing to grow up. I'm scared, being 26 years old, at what comes next, but many movies have told me that real courage is going forward despite being terrified out of your mind. So I'm going to try.

08 June 2011

On Loving Morocco, Moroccans

This is from Kathleen Dean Moore's book The Pine Island Paradox.

In one chapter she reflects on these questions, What does it mean to love a person? What does it mean to love a place? And she answers the questions thus: "it means at least this: 1. to want to be near it, physically. 2. to want to know everything about it - its story, its mood, what it looks like by moonlight. 3. to rejoice in the fact of it. 4. to fear its loss, and grieve for its injuries. 5. to protect it - fiercely, mindlessly, futilely, and maybe even tragically, but to be helpless to do otherwise. 6. to be transformed in its presence - lifted, lighter on your feet, transparent, open to everything beautiful and new. 7. to want to be joined with it, taken in by it, lost in it. 8. to want the best for it. 9. desperately, and 10. to take responsibility for its well-being."

+++++

In this excerpt lies the proof for me, for myself, that I love Morocco, truly love it, and wasn't just infatuated with it. There is also the proof that I have loved people here, and I wasn't just in lust or infatuated with them.

I know I haven't updated in a long time. I haven't been doing much... I haven't been working, I haven't been traveling. I've been visiting people, enjoying all that Rabat has to offer, flying back and forth to America for my sister's graduation, and watching the sparrows go crazy in my neighborhood around sunset. I've been trying to write my book - the subject of another entry, maybe even another blog entirely - but (a) I am lazy and (b) I'm daunted by the enormity of my idea and thus I really don't know where to begin.

I've also been following the news ravenously. I am a romantic, and so all this revolution stuff, at first, was really sparking my imagination, reminding me of French novels and stories of 1967 revolutions. But then I saw a policeman backhand a man across the face, and club him hard in the balls, and I realized how unfair and how unromantic this whole thing really is, and really will be for quite sometime. I pray for all those who are bold enough to speak out, because I am not too sure I would be. Torture, but more so the threat of torture, is scary shit.

I don't know what will happen to this blog once I go back to the States, on June 26th, but I hope to continue to write about Morocco for a while. Inshallah.