Phase one is complete. My 12 days of orientation in Meknès was culturally stimulating…and very hot. Morocco is a hubbub of identities, the ethnic center point of North Africa, and it’s people boil in the sun every day.
As the late King Hassan II described, “Morocco is rooted in Africa, watered by Islam and rustled by the winds of Europe.”
Diversity is evident in the languages I’ve already encountered – standard Arabic, Moroccan Darija, Amazigh, French, Spanish and English. Morocco’s colonial history remains vibrant in Volubilis, the site of Roman ruins protected by UNESCO. The veil and burka are common wear among women in the streets thanks to influence from the East, specifically Afghanistan. And, of course, the French. Although it is not a national language, French is the official language of Moroccan business and bureaucratic proceedings.
Despite all the foreigners, intellectuals and scholars that have emigrated here and who have brought new ideas and inventions that benefited Moroccan society, this country is still sizzling hot. Out of all my observations of Moroccan lifestyles, including the common disuse of toilet paper, prioritization of the family over the individual, obsession with TV, and the eating out of the same dinner bowl, I am most perplexed about this:
How do Moroccans wear pants and head coverings in 100-degree weather?
“Maybe it’s in our genes and we’re used to it,” my Meknès host dad told me. Either way, this is one cultural norm I refuse to conform to, at least for now.
My host dad, Rda, had many interesting things to say.
“[My father in law] owns a construction company. I could have a big house if I wanted to, but I don’t want it. When I need to buy something, I pay for it with what I have. I don’t want loans from the bank.”
When asked what was the hardest language to learn of the five he speaks fluently (Darija, standard Arabic, French, English, German), Rda said, “Nothing is hard if you have the will.”
On saying goodbye to people he said, “I don’t like farewells. Instead I say, see you again.”
Rda has a master’s degree in media and works 10 hours a week as a High School English teacher. For someone who has never left Morocco, his knowledge of the United States and English is incredible. He can talk about American race relations. He calls the police the fuzz and complains about his eldest son being in the terrible twos phase. He’s one of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met, so it wasn’t easy saying goodbye to him, along with his wife and two kids.
Luckily, I think I’ll have the chance to visit again, but for now it’s time to move on from my time in Meknés and discover Rabat.
In order to embrace the short time we have in Rabat, I will again end with a quote, something I will do for each post. This time, it comes from the famous Chinese writer, Lin Yutang.
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Brennan Weiss and I am an aspiring international news reporter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am a Journalism major with French and Global Studies minors at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Since spending my freshman year of university in Florence, Italy, I’ve grown to love adventure and travel. I hope my work as an international journalist allows me to navigate the world endlessly until every culture, land, and people has been met.</span></p>