Morocco!! Is this even possible? This is about all I managed the first night:
Rabat is beautiful; I stand by my comic-self.
[the Mausolée Mohammed V]
[a taste of the medina]
The second or third night I took a walk with my host dad and two younger host siblings: Taha, who is thirteen and quiet but actually intermittently hilarious (though my experience of this is limited because all the kids speak mostly Darija, or Moroccan Arabic); and the sweet, shy, a little nerdy looking Kauoutar, 11 years old and tiny. The walk itself was breathtaking: the Medina in the evening, shops closing, people greeting each other as they pass in the narrow streets. We walked through the Kasbah des oudaias, too, with the blue walls, and even managed to get onto the ocean promenade for a moment. The waves in the dark, and the city lights. The promenade was not yet lit, which is why it was off limits, and so beautiful – an empty and dark expanse on a precipice.
But then. We walked down where the stage was getting hot, but the music hadn’t started yet. (Rabat has this giant outdoor music festival every year called Mawazine. I heard Jennifer Lopez showed up a few days before we arrived. Alas, I failed to attend.) So we ambled along the river walk, just strolled. Like my parents would love to do, by the black water. I had glimpsed the moon earlier and gasped: a dusky yellow, like the stones of the medina, perfectly full and perfectly huge, rising out of the clouds and mists behind an old battlement. Do you not realize you are living in a myth, I wanted to say. (No, I thought, you probably don’t, because it is someone else’s myth, not yours.) Instead I said: This doesn’t happen in the States! The same with the blazing electric blue sky a little earlier, somehow even more saturated, even warmer in its intense blueness than that of Madrid.
Anyway, the river walk: past stalls roasting corn; sellers of escargot with their stacks of clay bowls; kid-sized plastic cars for purchase or rent; strolling groups; popcorn stands; the black water lapping at the rocks below. The streetlights.
As we walked sometimes Kaoutar would skip ahead, or come back and hang onto my host dad, Elmoumen (Abdelmoumen). The love between them is very obvious; he is clearly a caring father who dotes on Kaoutar, his one daughter. They are all very sweet.
When we got to the end of the pier/river-walk we turned around and walked back. By this time the concert had started. It was a middle-aged guy with brown skin and a sweat-soaked shirt, singing in French, moving his butt around, with sub-par teeth – very not glossy young American youth nation. But he was good. He had one song that my host dad pointed out to me: “Je suis métisse”:
Je suis métisse, un mélange de couleur
Oh métisse, je viens d'ici et d'ailleurs
I liked it. It felt like something I could inhabit.
I was looking at the lights, wishing the crowd was dancing more (it was a smaller crowd than other days, apparently.) I saw two hippie-ish tourist (?) women dancing and wished I could join. Same with other glimpses, some tourists, some not. I’ve gotta come back here with people my age, I thought. I looked at the large screens and the lights and recalled a friend who had visited here with her parents in 9th grade or so. She came back with a leather bag and a lot of enthusiasm, speaking of this place that figured nowhere in my consciousness. And now I was here.
I was enjoying myself but trying to be polite, to not keep everyone out so late. Ultimately, however, it was my host dad who didn’t want to leave. “Pas encore,” he said when I suggested it, with an almost sheepish smile. Ha, I thought. Inner me grinned.
I was tired, and had my first bits of homework to do, but I didn’t mind. I grooved, a little. The whole scene made me long – long for…something. Dream, in an achy kind of way. I’d only been there three days but: I can come back, I thought. I wanted to be free to dance, which I didn’t feel without peers. I also wanted to be integrated, a part rather than just a visitor to the scene, which would be harder to fulfill outside the situation of a host family. Gotta make friends, I guess.
[Impressions of the festival. I loved that outdoor musical festival did not automatically equal a young-people only space. Everyone was there, enjoying – together.]
Post about 2nd week’s trip to Dakar, Senegal, coming up! A lot to say.
À la prochaine,
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<p>Luna Beller-Tadiar is a rising Sophomore at Yale University with strong interests in critical race, class, gender and sexuality studies, subaltern forms of life, art, and language. She loves all forms of the arts (including the martial ones!), and is constantly sketching in restaurants and dancing along city streets. She believes in understanding everything intersectionally, and is excited for the classes she will be taking on Moroccan history and literature to inform her experience and observations both written and sketched of Rabat!</p>