Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Morocco Journey - Journal 1: Arriving in Morocco

Dear everyone,
I'm writing this from Morocco, where I have so far (in merely the last 3 days that I've been here) met some of the most wonderful, most kindest people on earth. Really, I don't think I can exaggerate their generosity and hospitality. But before I give the many examples of this, let's go back to how I got here and what all has happened so far.

Randomness. Looks like Paki-land, no?
The flight was to Casablanca, where a group of other students in my program and I waited for a few hours for some other students to land so we could drive over to our center/location--which happens to be at least 3 hours away from Casablanca! (Dude, I had a layover in in Paris, and the flight was through Air France and it was the worst flight ever. Never, ever take Air France or Delta internationally! If you can avoid it, please do so. Everything about them is terrible--the food, the seats, the flight attendants, and so on. I tried to think positive, but it was hard.) But then in Casablanca, when I saw a circle of some young students who were speaking American-accented English with each other, I asked them if they were headed towards M., where our program is, and they said yes, and it turned out, we were going to the same center and were waiting for the same ride. It was awesome! So we just talked and talked. That was the first good sign of a nice summer :) Those students have turned out to be good friends already! 

More randomness.
While we were riding towards M., everything was reminding me of Pakistan--the houses, the way the shops are designed, the way people (men) sit on the streets talking with each other and watching cars and other automobiles pass by and all. Even some of the houses are just like the ones you find in Pakistan (the poorer neighborhoods or what we see in Swat typically, like the average Pashtun house.) Then again, I'm only saying from the outside, since I haven't been inside them yet. More details about the houses with some photos later.

So, when we arrived to our center, my GOD, it was like the most beautiful building I've ever seen! I hope the pics do justice to its beauty, but they really don't. If you don't like the pics, that's okay with the me.

A street here (this pic isn't taken by me).
So! Like, you pass these narrow streets with shops here and there and everyone staring at you because you're obviously a foreigner (the men stare at women just as pathetically as they do in Jordan and in Pakistan; only, it's worse in Pakistan. I don't think any other country can beat the staring and gawking and other forms of harassment of the men in Pakistan. I speak from experience). You make some lefts and some rights and walk in these hilly streets and get your work-out of the week and then enter the fabulous building. I don't currently have pictures of the entrance and too lazy to do it now, but once you enter, you pass through a narrow hallway and make a left and see a stunning sight: the courtyard with its beautiful architectural design and the wonderful art.
More pics of the streets on our way to the center:

Yeah :D These are pretty common here. A lovely and refreshing sight, I swear!

Pictures of the courtyard of the center:

The courtyard.

Since the courtyard is open and has no ceiling, there's this really beautiful-sounding bird that visits us a lot. It feels really nice to hear her sing at like totally random times! Also, our classes are located up the stairs (pic below), which are very narrow and round, and you get dizzy when taking them. I'll show you pics of the stairs another time.

Here's a picture from the top of the building of things and homes around us:

Lovely, yes?

The program itself, as I've said a thousand times on Twitter, is totally worth all the money one can spent on it. It's very accommodating of students' needs, the teachers are helpful and truly care about what we learn and make sure we understand everything before moving on to the next lesson or topic, and the classes are very small, perhaps no more than 8 students per class. My class, however, has me and only one other student. If only you knew how pressure-some that gets :p We've to be alert at all times, haha. But it's one-on-one attention, and that's always great when learning another language.

But besides the classes, the program also has this thing where we get to choose if we want to stay with host families. I decided that'd be an excellent opportunity to learn as much Moroccan Arabic and Arabic in general and Moroccan culture as possible, so why not. If you're ever in such a language program, I'd definitely recommend staying with a family. I'm not sure how many students are total in the program, but I know at least 20 of the students, and none of them has had a negative experience with their family.  We all talk about how wonderful our families are and how generous--feeding us all the time, making sure we're comfortable, washing our clothes just like that, and even cleaning our rooms!

As for the family I'm with, ohh my God, YOU GUYS!! I've two little host sisters, a great mommy (who's really too young to be my mom :D), and an awesome and comfortable house. Alhamdulillah, I couldn't be happier :) So, my little sisters ... aaaahh, one's I think 8 years old and another is 3, and the one who's 3 is Kashmala's age and I feel totally at home! I come home, and she gives me her cheek to kiss. We play hide and seek, we run around the house laughing our heads off, and she pokes me and pretends she didn't do it, LOL. It's so aDDDorable! :D

Damnit, I can't seem to upload pics of the little girls here, so will have to do that in the next journal-post, but for now, let's continue. 

My first breakfast with my new family :)
PARAATAS!!!!!!! I'm SO HAPPY!!! It's a traditional Moroccan food, too! :D
We went on a tour around the neighborhood, and I took some pictures from there, too (including one of a snake-charmer having a snake around the neck of a friend of mine--and my friend even kissed the head of the snake!!). Really cool stuff! I'll show you those another day.

But here are some random pics.

This is near a major market here; this isn't how all the roads look like, but it's definitely a road.
And I shall now leave with you some stuff you come across in the market, including some mouth-watering sweets!

See you all soon again!


  1. very interesting write-up. while going through it it appears as if I am myself present there. some of these streets are dientical to teh streets in Peshawar City. what's the name of this neighbourhood and city. Especially the "paratha" appears to be the one in Pakistan.Hope to see more such like blogs from the writer.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Waseem! I'm located in Meknes.
      Yessss - exactly! There's so many similarities with Pakistan!!

  2. Wonderful. Feels like I just had a walk around the streets of Morocco with you, Qrratugai. Keep showing us around!!

    1. Thanks!! Man, I wish you were here with me through this journey! It's so cool!

  3. Salams! Sorry I seem to have missed what this course is all about but ohmigoshhhhh what an absolutely great thing to do! Learning a language in a foreign place! Super cool and how I'd love to do that too! Ok too many exclamation marks here. Love the pics...your host family sounds wonderful and yay for parathas! Oh and lots of leering men in India too (India Pakistan bhai bhai!).Anyway, hope to see more of your blog posts with plenty of pics :-)Hugs for all your excitement and enthusiasm!

    1. Priyankaaa! So good to hear from you :) Thanks for your comment!

      Na, you haven't missed much! Just that I'm in Morocco studying Arabic and trying to tour the country at the same time. Definitely a good idea. I did it with Jordan, too, a couple of years back.

      hahhaha - the whole staring at women thing is too common throughout the world! It's miserable :S Trying to think positive despite it, though.

  4. Hi have a wonderful blog about pashtuns....and this post too attracted me, as my sister in law belongs from Morocco...

    i am a pashtun too belong from mardan....i saw ur post about paurrany ...posted in fb.....its have put forward in detail about this problem.....i love your blog...just keep writing so well....

    I am so excited to meet you...and from now onward i am gonna follow you..

    1. Dear Kiran,
      Thank you so much for your comments :) I'm happy to read them and grateful for your readership!

      Are you on Twitter?


Dare to opine :)

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