In the past forty-eight hours, I have said goodbye to my friends and family back in the U.S., and said hello to my new home for four months here in Rabat. I am sitting in my new bed in my new house after an evening of meeting my new family and seeing my new neighborhood. I am exhausted and happy; I can’t wait to fall asleep, and I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow morning. I am living in the Hassan neighborhood of Rabat that is not far from the Rabat Marina and Medina. I know this only because my host sister, Zubida, showed my roommate Claire and I a beautiful tour of the town. We saw the tomb of King Mohammed V just a minute’s walk away and a festival atmosphere along the marina with children riding merry-go-rounds and rolling around in toy cars. We took in a stunning view at sunset from the Kasbah as Zubida gave us exclusive access to a terrace closed to most tourists (but open to friends of the guard, apparently). Next, we dodged our way back by way of the medina around families, shopkeepers, and sheep being carted in preparation for Friday’s Eid-Al-Adha. Unfortunately, I brought nothing with me along the walk, and so I still have yet to take any pictures here of my own. However, Claire shared some of hers from the walk!
We also have a host mother, father, and brother. Our mother, Karima, welcomed us with a plate of cookies and traditional Moroccan mint tea for a snack, and then a wonderful array of dishes for dinner, of which my favorite was a lentil soup with lots of vegetables. The family speaks mostly Arabic (Darija, Moroccan dialect) around the home, but engaged us with French and Fusha (MSA Arabic) to help us communicate better on the first night. I definitely leaned into my French more than I hope to by the end of my stay, but was so grateful that everyone was eager to help with translating words from French to Fusha to Darija.
The home itself is beautiful. Claire and I share a room decorated with bright accent colors that opens into a salon lit by a windowed roof and tiled artistically. The dining/living space has wonderful embroidered cushions that are both beautiful and comfy, and Karima invited us to treat the home as our own after dinner by following her example and stretching out to lounge on the cushions while we watched a Moroccan drama on T.V. I am so happy to start settling in, and I cannot imagine a better place to do it. My time so far has been exhausting and overwhelming, though in the best ways possible. I am looking forward to finding a rhythm and becoming comfortable in all the new relationships.
So far, Morocco is a million different things, and I feel a million different things. Of those, the predominating feeling is fatigue: Bonne nuit and ila liqaa!