Ahlan wa Sahlan! ..Bienvenue?!

I’m in Casablanca! After being in 3 different continents in 36 sleepless hours, and 6 months of planning and talking about it- I’m here in Africa! My first disappointment of the trip: from the air, Paris looks a lot like Ohio. Somehow I expected it to be more alluring. My plane landed in Paris at the most confusing airport ever- damn you Charles de Gaulle! After catching several buses and going through security all over again, I met up with a wonderful woman, Bonnie, who I happened to start chatting with by chance [after nearly nine hours of not talking to anyone in English I was desperate for some chit chat!] who went to boarding school in Morocco as a teenager and was on her way back to visit some friends. She had so much wonderful advice and helped me manage being in Paris; it was so wonderful to have someone who speaks French looking out for me there! At the gate we met up with two other kids who are in my study abroad program and the four of us stuck together until we got to Casablanca. From the gate we had to take a tram to the actual plane [you quirky Frenchmen!] and from there we made it to Morocco without incident. A cool moment happened on the plane though: a Frenchman was sitting on the end of my row, Bonnie was in the middle, and I was on the other side. Because the Frenchman didn’t speak English and I don’t speak French, the only way for us to communicate was through Bonnie. It was a fun kind of international game of telephone and it really made me pause and appreciate how diverse Europe is. After a turbulent landing, we got separated from Bonnie and Alexa, Patrick and I went through Customs and found our luggage without incident- masha’allah! Then we met up with our ISA group and here comes the fun part: waited in the airport for over five hours for the other participants’ flights to come in. Awful! After being on a plane for a day, the last thing I wanted to do was chill in an airport..but it did give us a chance to all get to know one another. Finally we got on board the coolest tour bus ever- the ceiling was completely carpeted like a 70’s van, -the best part!- the floor wasn’t carpeted; it was covered in GRASS! From there we drove 45 minutes to our hotel and saw some of the most interesting cityscapes, crazed pedestrians, and fabulous homes I’ve ever laid eyes upon. After arriving at Hotel Ajiad, a group of us got showered and went out in search of dinner. It was interesting getting to know everyone and talk and joke around like we had known each other forever; I guess being in a foreign country will do that to you. Also, I’m learning French! Ughhh…gag. I’ve heard more French spoken than Arabic since I’ve been here- yikes! I practiced a little bit with our French waiter tonight- just “oui” and “merci”, but it’s a start! Now, I’m past the point of exhaustion, but we have to be ready to leave the hotel tomorrow morning at 8am, so I’m heading to bed! Goodnight, Casa!

Salaam wa hubb

Sa adhebu ila…Paris…

It’s 9:22 PM in Alabama and I am 35,000 feet somewhere over Canada. My flight from Atlanta to Paris was delayed due to a thunderstorm for over an hour, so my last views of America [from the ground, at least] were dreary and wet. I should be arriving in France sometime around 10:15 AM [Paris time], which is in about six hours. It still seems pretty surreal to me that I’m actually on my way to Morocco and that I’ll be living there for the rest of the summer. It started to sink in when I said goodbye to my dad at security and realized that I was really on my own and flying halfway around the world to a place where I don’t know a soul and only speak the language at an elementary level. I have no idea what is in store for me over the next few weeks, and I would like to say that I’m anxious, excited and scared, but right now, I don’t really feel anything. I suppose when I get to Paris the panic will set in at being surrounded by hundreds o f people speaking a language I don’t know a word of.
There are mostly French people on my flight [Jamie is laughing sadistically somewhere right now] so I really can’t understand what anyone is saying anyway. The rudest woman in history is sitting in front of me with her daughter and I would absolutely love to kick one of them in the face. It would be nice if that was just due to travelling stress, but it isn’t. This woman basically kicked another girl out of her seat so her daughter could see the in-flight movie [Fool’s Gold..ugh..don’t bother]. I mean, she asked, but it was basically just an order with the word please tacked onto the end. Then, her daughter leans her chair all the way back, basically into my lap, and even when dinner is served and I’m basically sitting with my tray in my lap, this lady doesn’t have the decency to say, “we should move our seat back up so the girl behind us can eat without getting a crick in her neck”. Ughhh. Oh well, they’re both asleep now so hopefully I won’t have to deal with them again until morning. As for me, I’m going to try and sleep for a little while [I have two seats to myself so I can stretch out a little bit- suck on that mean lady!] and then start studying my Arabic..I suppose I should have been doing that all summer. Oh well! Hopefully in time my blog entries will get more poetic and have more imagery, but I’m not promising anything! Goodnight from Quebec City, guys!

Salaam wa hubb,