Busat min Meknes!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s only been 24 hours since I last wrote! So much has happened! Last night I woke up at 5:30AM to the sounds of a street fight. Eight men yelling in a mixture of French and Arabic, pushing each other, punching, and a woman screaming. This continued for nearly 15 minutes before I got out of bed to watch. I opened my window and watched for another ten minutes as the fight continued until one man pushed another into a car, which proceeded to roll backwards down the street. At that point, there was a loud noise which sounded like a gunshot, and the crowd dispersed. Welcome to Morocco!
This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and left at 8AM to go sight-seeing. We stopped at a food market, a huge Catholic church, a government building, an asooq [open-air market…Morocco has the best stuff!], and finally, the piece de resistance [like my awful French?]- Hassan II mosque, the third largest mosque in the Muslim world. All of it was gorgeous and simply breathtaking. One minute you feel as if you’re living in a crowded concrete jungle full of muted tones and the next there’s intricate carving and vibrant color everywhere. It’s almost overwhelming.
Then we ate at a Moroccan restaurant on the beach and explored a little. Moroccan beaches are so different! There’s such a much of people there- some women completely covered, others in skimpy bikinis, and an incredible man: woman ratio of nearly 20:1. I’m a little nervous going anywhere just because you are constantly surrounded by men.
After lunch, we started the bus ride to Meknes. It took nearly four hours, but we stopped at Marjane, the Arabic version of Wal-Mart. We finally arrived at around 7 and moved into our apartment, which is huge and beautiful. Six girls live in my apartment, two to each room and bathroom, with a huge living/dining room and kitchen. We also have several balconies with great views overlooking the city. Dinner was already prepared for us so we ate Moroccan chicken. Moroccans, like Europeans, love their bread! There is a ton of it at every meal, and also spiced olives, which I unfortunately think are disgusting. The six girls wanted to go out and stock up on food and make photocopies of our passports, so we set out to explore. Pedestrians here dart in and out of traffic, and we’re already starting to get pretty good at narrowly avoiding almost certain death in the form of a motorbike or petit-taxi. We went to three photocopy shops and all of them refused to serve us because we were women. That was a little disheartening, but then we went to a hole-in-the-wall grocery and bought a 24-pack of Coke for D156 and two huge jugs of water, so I felt a little better knowing I’d be pumping caffeine into myself soon. Now we’re back at the apartment and prepping ourselves for another early morning full of tours, placement tests, and certainly more sexism.
Morocco is so different from what I expected, although I’m not completely sure what I did expect. The facades of buildings look grimy and unkempt, but the interiors are gorgeous. There are hardly any public trashcans, yet there is no trash on the ground anywhere. French is always spoken to white people, and women are hardly ever around. Outdoor cafes are filled to the brim with men with nary a woman in sight. Streets are so narrow that I’m tempted to be a backseat driver in the bus. And everyone honks, all the time, over nothing. There’s so much to look at and take in that it’s physically exhausting. And I’m starting to get used to the fact that I’m burning up and sticky and dripping sweat constantly. Appreciate your air conditioning!
That’s all I have for you tonight, hopefully the internet will be working soon or I can get to an internet café to post these entries! Goodnight, Meknes!

Salaam wa hubb

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