The school week is pretty uneventful- lots of class and not much excitement; it’s kind of sad. It’s hard to find anything to write about, so I’ll catch you up on the past three days!
Thursday night Ben, Addison, Jamila, two kids from the last summer program and two Moroccans we’ve met here, and I went to the medina to wander around. There was an art display and tons of people milling about. I even got to see a camel! It was really cool, all dark and shadowy with vendors selling things by lamp light and fires. We ended up going to a restaurant/café that was situated in a corner of the medina courtyard and went three flights up to the terrace where we could overlook the entire chaotic scene. We stayed there for a long while talking and drinking and having a good time. Eventually we wandered through the souq for a few minutes, but most of the vendors were closing shop by that time- nearly 11pm. We came back to the apartments and stayed up playing Bullshit for a while.
Friday was one of the most interesting experiences thus far in Meknes! We sat around all day until about 4 when Iman and Moha came to take us to the hammam. Bridget, Lauren, Jamila and I walked to the hamman with Ben, Michael, Patrick, Jared, and Moha. How a hammam works is really difficult to explain, but I’ll do my best to do it justice. There are two sides to the hammam, the one on the left is for the boys and the right is for the girls. You walk right into a locker room type area where you take off all of your clothes [except for your underwear, in our case] and put them into a cubby. You are given a big bucket and proceed into a huge room that greets you with a gust of heat a lot like a sauna. There are several rooms branching off of one another, and naked women and screaming children everywhere. We walked to a room towards the back where there were women all around the walls. There are two faucets every few feet along the wall, one pumping out hot water and the other with cold. There are tiny white stools that you sit on as you fill your bucket with a mix of the hot and cold water, and use a smaller bucket to scoop out the water and pour it on yourself. Iman gave us sticky brown goo that ended up being soap to rub all over ourselves until we were super shiny. Then, washing women came in and sat in the middle of the room on the floor. We got up and laid on the floor, uncomfortably close to the women, and they scrubbed us down so hard that rolls and rolls of gray, dead skin started peeling off of us. They scrubbed every inch of our bodies [yes, every inch, nook, and cranny], flipping us over roughly as they went. After nearly fifteen minutes they were done, we went back to our stations and washed our hair, and were done. We dressed and walked home, trying not to get ourselves too dirty or sweaty. They say that you are never truly clean until you have been to the hammam, and I agree wholeheartedly. My skin has never been smoother or cleaner than it was yesterday. It was wonderful, even if it was a little awkward at first. I can’t wait to go back! I was rubbing my skin and asking people to touch me all day.
Last night, Ben, Jared, Patrick, Addison, Jamila, Michael, Imad [a Moroccan friend of ours], Samantha, Zain, Gabriel [three kids from the first summer session], Megan, Samantha’s boyfriend, and I drank wine and smoked hookah in the boys’ apartment until the wee hours of the morning. This ended up not being too terribly smart, because this morning we had to be on the bus to Fes by 9am. Fes was nice, but to me it was just a bigger, more tourist-infested version of Meknes. We went to a ceramics factory, a tannery, the huge and confusing souq, and several other places. Lots of interesting things were around to look at, but I’m starting to get a little burnt out of walking around with guides just looking at everything. It is overwhelming and physically exhausting. By the end of the day, we were all ready to come home and unwind. The tourist thing has gotten old for everyone, because we live here on a day-to-day basis and have kind of assimilated into the culture of Morocco, so walking around like a sightseer isn’t very much fun anymore. We’d much rather be let loose to explore.
When I came home tonight I had a little personal drama, but it’s basically resolved now. Tomorrow we have to be on the bus by 8am to go to Ifrane for a hike, which I’m ridiculously excited about, because there are supposed to be monkeys everywhere! I can’t wait! It’s only 10:30, but I think I’m going to go to bed here soon so I can wake up and not be hating life on the hike tomorrow. I will try and write tomorrow, and who knows when this will finally get online. Cross your fingers!

Salaam wa hubb,

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