It has been two weeks since the end of my internship, and I spent one of those weeks traveling around the south of Morocco—Marrakech, Essouira, Casablanca— with my parents and their friends who live in Casablanca. After that, I left from Casablanca to Portugal for my first ever solo trip. I spent the week staying in hostels in Lisbon and Porto and it was absolutely incredible. I met many interesting people from all over the globe, and felt incredibly independent and free spending the days roaming the cities. Right now, I’m sitting on the plane on the way back to SLC, and I’m feeling all sorts of emotions. I can’t believe that this summer is coming to an end. I have seen so much and learned even more in three short months. I’m excited to see friends and family but in the last few days I have found myself missing all sorts of things about Morocco. The readjustment process has also felt rather odd. I’ve been jotting down some stuff that already makes me feel nostalgic...
I’m not in Ifrane anymore?!?
-Supermarkets. When my parents came to pick me up at Al-Akhawayn, we went straight to Essaouira where we stopped at a Carrefour supermarket. In walking through large glass doors to find organized rows of food with set prices and grocery carts, I started to cry. It all felt incredibly foreign after spending the last two months getting food at souks or at the different stands in the marché.
-Toilet Paper. Every time I would walk into a bathroom I expected that there would be no toilet paper or that it would be a squatty potty. Finding toilet paper in almost all of the bathroom stalls keeps throwing me off.
-People actually drive in the lanes? I forgot that road rules existed….
-Salt and Pepper? Nope, it is all about the cumin and salt. I haven’t seen salt with pepper on a table once in Morocco. I miss putting cumin on my hard boiled eggs. I’m definitely going to adopt the Moroccan way of having cumin and salt with every meal, trust me it is tasty.
-I keep waiting to hear Jabar Fan on the radio. In the car, at work, and in the dorms this song was on repeat for two months.
-Where is the mint tea?
The Moroccan hospitality made my experience over the last two months. From gracious dinner invitations, to chatting with the women in Tarmilaat about the co-op, mint tea was always served before any conversation. Although at this point, I don’t think I could stomach any more mint tea of meloui (the traditional fry bread that is served with the tea), I’m going to miss the hospitality and open invitations that come with it.
What I already miss about Morocco:
-The kids. I can’t believe I’m saying this seeing as after eight weeks of trying to keep 3-12 year olds from strangling each other (and sometimes us), I was writing thank you notes to my elementary school teachers for their patience. I was pretty worn out from lesson planning, behavioral problems, and the language barrier to the point of being convinced that parenthood wasn’t for me. But now, after two weeks of not seeing them, I can’t get their smiling faces out of my head. I miss Muhammad and his round belly that extends when he starts to giggle. I miss Malak with her soft skin, purple pajama shirt, and big brown eyes. Her endless kisses and soft smile supports my conclusion that she is the sweetest little girl in the world. I miss Youssif and his crazy dance moves. I miss them all, even the ones that gave me grey hair at the age of 19. Their quirks and smiles made all of the craziness and hard work well worth it.
-Grand Taxis. I have to say I miss the adrenaline rush of cramming six people into a 1970's Mercedes sedan, closing my eyes, and hoping that we would make it to work safely as the driver went double the speed limit around blind corners.
-Markets and Souks The colorful piles of vegetables and fruits, the sticky stands of dried dates covered in flies, and the dangling animal heads made grocery shopping way more exciting. I can still smell raw meat mixed with cumin, turmeric, and pastries.
-Iftars and friends Shukrun Bizzaf (thank you bunches) to all the Moroccans that fed me, danced with me, and laughed with me late into the night. Thank you to all the other AUA volunteers that survived the last two months with me.
-Inshallah With a combination of Darija, French, and English being spoken at all times, I could always find the right word to express how I was feeling. I find myself continually slipping in Darija phrases when I speak, although almost no one understands what I am talking about. When I checked into the hotel last night in Paris, I said shukrun instead of merci. Out of the little Arabic that I learned, Inshallah (meaning if god wills it) is by far my favorite. Inshallah is so much more than just a religious phrase. Inshallah is often said after referencing anything in the future. For example, “see you tomorrow”, plans of travel, and business deals are often followed by inshallah.
Inshallah Morocco. Thanks for all that your welcoming people and beautiful country has given me this summer.