We’ve made it through our first week with our homestay families and we all have extremely hilarious stories about what happens when you are lost in translation… I’ve been all over the city, through the Oudayas in the Medina, Mohammad V’s tomb, a Mosque that was built in 1195, eaten expensive cookies at a cafe that pre-dates the French colonial period, sat by the beach in l’Ocean, but I have to say that my favorite part of this trip so far has been going on a run with my family yesterday morning.
A lot of us are concerned by the amount of food we have been consuming and the lack of opportunities to exercise (people don’t just run through downtown in Rabat like they do in Charlottesville), so my family took me to a HUGE park Sunday morning where many Moroccans come to play soccer, walk, run, and exercise. My host brother is 16 years old and is in MUCH better shape than me, sooooo I ended up running alone. A white (VERY PALE, might I add), girl, running with her iPod… it would be an understatement to say that I stood out.
At first I was extremely nervous to be by myself, but after about 10 minutes I felt completely comfortable and safe and was able to observe my surroundings. People of ALL ages were there, both men and women, and such a diversity of dress as well. There were women running with their whole body covered in their religious dress and then there were women running in sweatpants and a t-shirt. I can’t explain why the morning made me so happy except for the fact that it was the first time since I got to Morocco that I was able to be alone and reflect, and I had an overwhelming feeling of happiness and gratitude for this experience. I feel totally at home with this family, Ziad is literally like a little brother to me.
I know most people probably want to hear about the excursions we’ve been on – which have been amazing… and some have been a little precarious to say the least (sorry Mom and Dad). On Saturday we took a historical tour of the city and we say the ruins of a mosque that was built in 1195, during the Almoravid dynasty. CHICKA WHAAAT. Right next to that mosque was the tomb of Mohammad V, the ruler that led Morocco to independence and next to that tomb was a mosque – one of the only mosques in the Arab world to be built without a minaret. After that we went to the old medina (city in arabic), where we saw fortifications that were built along the coast to keep invasions from Europe out. Rabat literally means “fortified city.” Boom, knowledge.
Next weekend we will travel to Fez, the capital of Morocco pre-French colonial period. Woot Woot!