I feel myself changing day by day in Morocco. I know most people would say that living in another country for two months can’t really change a person down to their core, but I completely disagree.
Physically, the changes are easier to see. I tend to describe myself as one giant flesh wound these days, because I have had one cut after another since coming here. I have cuts covering my hands from falling down the stairs one day, cuts across the back of my calves from the hike, huge bloody blisters covering my feet, and random cuts and scrapes from day to day life. I’ve also lost a lot of weight from small portions, no preservatives or artificial foods, and constant exercise from belly dancing, hiking, and walking everywhere in the scorching heat [today it was nearly 120F!] My face is tan from Rabat, although I’m sure my whole body will be even darker after this weekend in Asilah. I have brown-orange henna covering both of my hands and arms, and sandal tan-lines on my feet.
The internal changes are more subtle than all that, and far more complex. When I came here, I was so set on my plan that it was completely inflexible to change in any way. I’m still completely dedicated to my plan, and living in the Middle East this summer has made me sure that this is actually what I want to do, but I’m also open to the idea of serendipity. Perhaps something else will pop up that is just as fabulous as what I’m planning. I’ve also amended the plan to a certain extent, adding French and Hebrew to the list of languages I want to master. My attitudes about America have all been challenged by the things I have seen and done here. I realize how incredibly lucky I am to live in the States through my experiences here in Morocco. I would like to think that I’m braver than I was when I first arrived. The first few days here, the thought of taking a train to a random town in Morocco with no set plan would have terrified me, but now I’m anxiously awaiting our free weekend when Ben and I are going camping/sightseeing- as of yet we have no real agenda: camping in the Atlas, a night in the Sahara, maybe a day trip to Marrakesh. I’m so excited by the idea of gallivanting across an entire country in search of an adventure. I’m definitely more observant, as I try to absorb everything I see and do here; but still, everyday, I notice a building or landmark that I had never noticed before. I told the girls the other day that I feel like I could stay in Meknes for years and still not see everything, and I know it’s true. Some people are bored of it here already, but I can’t imagine ever not being enthralled by every aspect of life here. Even though I’m way more restricted in the things I do and the places I go, I absolutely love it. I’m also learning so incredibly much. Taban, I’m learning an insane amount of Arabic in class, but it’s so much more than that. I’m learning about things I never thought I would from the other kids here. I never knew anything about Judaism before I came here, and everyday Ben teaches me something new and interesting. Listening to Brigid talk about her travels and experiences abroad gives me an idea about the world I never had. Everyone brings something to the table and everyone here enriches me and makes me better in some way, even those that I don’t particularly care for. It all just fuels the fire in me, the desire to travel and see and do everything. Even when I’m totally confused and making a fool out of myself in Arabic class, I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I know that I would never trade this experience for anything. Finally, I’m not taking a single thing for granted. When I go to the bathroom and see that there is toilet paper, I rejoice- as opposed to complaining when there isn’t any. When I walk into a store and there’s air conditioning, I’m ecstatic; whereas the first few days we were here we were appalled when there wasn’t air conditioning anywhere. Every experience I have, I’m so grateful for and so amazed by. The other night as Addison and Michael and I settled in for our stay on the roof, I said, “Who ever would have thought I’d be on a roof in Morocco listening to Dane Cook?” The randomness of it all thrills me. Today, Julia, Lauren, Megan and I sat in the car for 30 minutes as our Intermediate Arabic professor loaded bricks into our trunk in the Zitoun. When I was imagining what Morocco would be like, I never pictured any of this random, seemingly mundane stuff, but it’s exactly that which makes this trip so exciting for me. Maybe I’m weird for that, but I love it. After all, not everyone can say that they belly danced on a bus with grass on the floor, to a song they didn’t understand the words to, as it zoomed across the desert en route to Ifrane. How amazing is life? How incredible, how invaluable, are these days here in Al-Maghreb?
With all that mushy stuff out of the way, today was pretty uneventful. We went to belly dancing class in the morning and the teacher finally complimented me on something that I did- a first! Maybe I’m finally starting to loosen up a little bit, although I have to say, the lack of structure in belly dancing makes me yearn for the technique and rigidity of cheerleading. I’ve been really tired for the past few days, and am actually really convinced that I do, in fact, have mono. But what’s a girl to do? No choice but to tough it out; it could be worse. Arabic class was alright- a little nerve-wracking, as always, but I know it will all be worth it when I go back to UA and know what I’m doing. People here are starting to get on each other’s nerves and tension is starting to develop, but even so, I know I will miss all of these people when we leave. it’s impossible not to after sharing an experience like this one. I’ll even miss the random crap Jared pipes up with out of nowhere…”We wanted to save kilos and kilos of pure Moroccan cat.” But I’m done thinking about leaving for now, I still have somewhere around two and a half weeks here, and I’m going to suck everything I can out of those two weeks. Uhebu al-Maghreb wa kulu al zumala-i.
I’m gonna head to the medina for a concert- goodnight, all!

Salaam wa hubb,

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