This morning we woke up at 7:45, got ready, and left for Volubilis at 9am. It was about a 25 minute drive there, and then we had a tour around the Roman ruins. The views were beautiful, and a surprising number of floor mosaics were still intact. Only a third of it has been excavated, so I can’t even imagine what is left beneath the ground.
We rode the bus up the mountain near Volubilis to take pictures of the city Moulay Idriss from the top. The road was super skinny and we were in the big autobus hefla [party bus], and we were all holding our breath, nervous we were going to go over the edge. We were literally inches from the edge most of the ride, and the road was bumpy and uneven. From there we rode down into Moulay Idriss and Saturday is market day there. Our big bus lumbered through the streets, clearing people out of the streets, most coming within centimeters of getting hit by us, and the buildings lining the street were only inches from our windows on either side. It was a nerve-wracking ride to say the least, but totally normal for the bus driver. Moha [Mohammed] and Iman showed us around the market a little bit and we had caramelized dates and this delicious honey and peanut cluster that got stuck in our teeth. The market was so chaotic- boys on donkeys riding through crowds of people, carts full of delicious flatbread wheeling around, vendors shouting and hawking things, donkey poop everywhere, and the smell of kebabs and tanjine hanging in the air, making your mouth water. Not to mention everyone is always staring at us. Yesterday at the café, men actually moved their chairs so that they could stare at us better. And it isn’t brief’s outright, constant staring. Today at the market, a vendor even offered a group of us 1,000 camels and 1,000 donkeys, which is basically a wedding proposal; the livestock would be a type of bride price. That is not at all unusual thus far- Moroccan men harass their own women nonstop, so upon seeing us wandering around, looking “exotic” [to them, at least], we frequently draw calls of “Very nice!”, “La bella!”, and “Yes!”. It’s almost flattering, but mostly just annoying. Five of us girls [Julia, Alexa, Lauren, Bridget and I] have a point system for every catcall we get, and whoever gets offered 5,000 camels or amasses a huge number of points first wins. It’s pretty entertaining.
The people in the group here are wonderful and we’ve already become a type of family. There’s Julia and Addison, a boy and girl from UF who are brilliant in Arabic and have travelled abroad extensively; Bridget who was born in Kenya and spent a lot of time living in Europe and the US and speaks as many languages as I do; Alexa, my roommate from Hawaii who is wonderful and thoughtful and super sweet; Lauren from Houston goes to Carnegie-Mellon and is intellectual, confident, and take-charge when called upon; Megan from Maryland is quiet, shy, and sweet; Ben, the comedian, who never fails to make me laugh out loud; Michael who is from Virginia Beach [yeaaa!] and goes to William & Mary is really quiet and genuine; Patrick is 24 and taught himself Arabic in 6 months; Jared…the words fail me…interesting; Autumn in the Air Force who is 26; and Jamila and Jennifer who aren’t taking Arabic and are just kind of along for the ride, but really fun. I love them all, with few exceptions.
Later on in the day, we went to the internet café [again..we’re so pathetic], went and got some more Merekschia [that delicious pastry!], and wandered around a bit. Right now, the only thing I really don’t like about Morocco is that the girls and boys don’t hang out very much. There are some boys we don’t get along with as well, and because they all hang out as a group, we end up not hanging out with any boys. I absolutely adore all the girls I live with, with no exceptions, but in general, I get along much better with boys. I’m craving testosterone and it’s killing me. I’m not sure how to handle the situation yet. I know that, especially in this country, it will look bad if I just go hang out with the boys by myself, and I don’t want to miss out on anything the girls are doing because we always have so much fun. But I can only handle so much estrogen, no matter how wonderful everyone is. I suppose it’ll resolve itself in time.
In the coming weeks, I’m really excited about getting some henna, our three day beach trip to Asilah, and our free weekend when Moha is taking us to the Sahara to play in the desert and ride camels.
Right now, I’m going to go try and find a way to entertain myself [the other girls are doing homework and playing card games and I really don’t want to do either of those things right now..I’m an antisocial slacker I suppose]. Goodnight min Meknes!

Salaam wa hubb,

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