Hangry, Definition: the feeling of excessive hungry to the point of anxiety or distress; a portmanteau of “hungry” and “angry.”
Ever since I was a kid, my brother would joke about how terrifying I’d get if I haven’t eaten in a while. Apparently, I become abrasive and lose my temper quickly. He makes these jokes when I am already hangry, exacerbating the hanger (the nounal form of hangry). I’ve generally been able to keep my stomach filled while in Morocco (thanks in no small part to the decadently enormous meals prepared by my host mother), hiding this personality flaw from most of my friends here.
That changed in a dramatic way during my trip to Asilah.
Asilah is a northern coastal city less than an hour away from Tangier. While not as large, nor as historically significant, Asilah definitely has the edge when it comes to art. Recently, Ishaq and I decided to become international art collectors, so Asilah was the natural choice for a weekend trip. A group rapidly coalesced and tickets were bought. Travel is simple in Morocco, with our destination only a three hour train ride away from Rabat.
The city is filled with galleries, both official and unofficial, showcasing contemporary Moroccan art. Some are a fusion of classical calligraphy with modern designs; others employ bold new styles and approaches from around the world. The Centre de Hassan II Rencontres Internationales offers free admission to see stunning paintings in an exhibit equally as beautiful.
That, coupled with easy access to the beach, would already make Asilah a must-see destination in my book. But you don’t even need to go to a gallery to see incredible pieces. The walls of the city are white-washed, providing the perfect canvas for aspiring street artists to turn their entire city into a work of art. One wall is covered in solid-color geometric shapes, haphazardly stacked on top of one another. Another is a veritable cacophony of multi-colored and sized Arabic letters, sprawling out in waves.
One artist near the city’s bigger courtyards is a woman with no functional use of her feet or hands. Between her big and index toes, she grasps a brush and finely dips it into her paint set. Laid out next to her are dozens pieces of wood (some as small as a wallet, others larger than a laptop) on which are painted detailed depictions of Asilah’s towers, walls and buildings.
Of course, I had no idea that any of these things existed as we disembarked at the Asilah train station. All I knew was that I was hungry, I wanted to check into a hotel and that it was getting dark soon. My travel companions, instead, wanted to walk out onto the beach to see the sunset. Being the only member of our party who regularly travels with a rolling suitcase, I was not particularly inclined to carrying my luggage out onto the beach. This inclination manifested itself in a snide look I gave to J.T. when he asked if I could carry his bag, before slamming shut a cab door. That was pretty rude of me. It wasn’t until I had stuffed my mouth with seafood paella later that evening that I felt human enough to apologize to my friends.
The next afternoon I found myself lounged out by the aforementioned beach, eating churros and dates. Clear waves crashed onto a soft layer of sand and a constant ocean breeze brushed our skins. What on earth was there to be hangry about?