Moroccan’ Roll

5 Mar

I gave myself a soft landing after crossing the iconic Gibraltar Straight into Afica for the first.time.ever.

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SPAZTIC WITH EXCITEMENT LIKE YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Well actually, you might believe it.

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Hartlet. I buttened up my shirt soon after I took the pic.

I had planned on staying with Achraf, a student currently translating Into the Wild into Arabic, and my best point of contact. I took a taxi to his apartment directly from the ferry.

“Why didn’t you take a camel from the port?” He and his roommates asked. My eyes grew wide, I couldn’t believe I missed out on that opportunity. “You can do that?!??” “Haha” came the reply, “No, why do tourists think that?? What other silly things have you heard about this country before you have arrived??”
‘You mean besides that lots of people will try to kidnap me and sell me for saffron??’ Achraf laughed and then turned to his friends and smiled: “She’s here — like I promised. Now give me all that saffron that we had talked about.”

Oh goody, a joke.

As I gently acclimated to my first African city, walking around, gaining security with my friendships, drinking tea, taking public transport, navigating the area, buying fruits, eating dinner, being alone, I could not believe how safe I felt! I was shocked. In fact, right now as I type this it’s dark, 8pm, and I’m outside alone in the open air (at a cafe) drinking tea and typing on my iPhone (#namedropping) and literally no one is talking to me. No one is approaching me at all. Why the heck is no one talking to me??!! #AmIugly?

Kidding.
But seriously. #behindeveryjoke

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It’s like a tourist highlighter.

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This outfit is the only one like it that I own… which means it’s dirty

So for reals, no men kissing at me, no sweet Arabic or French whispered to me as I pass guys on the street, no males crossing the road to say hello. Their gazes don’t even linger too long when they see me! I thought (hoped) with my green eyes Moroccans would be offering me all the saffron. But not even a pinch of saffron has been waved in my direction

Le sigh.

But then! As usual! My motherland pulled through and with Colleen’s help, I found a fellow traveler who listened, cracked even more jokes, and made astute, relevant observations. I felt understood and the two of us happily, albeit trepidatiously, traveled together for days.

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In Chefchaouen, the blue city, with couchsurfers who MorROCK!

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Knock knock
Who’s there?
Woo
Woo Hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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That’s paint. They think you’re stupid if you try to eat it.

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The young Moroccan blokes I’ve hung out with in their early 20s throw dinner parties (with salad) and eat off of the same plate because that’s how it’s done. All forks/bread into the ‘serving’ dish. No one has their own plate. Paula (and everyone that has helped along on the way) I’m at least trying to retain the memory of a European knife and fork.

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Fresh meat.

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I’ve drank more mint tea than can possibly be good for ‘mi.

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CousCous (not sure why they have to double-up on the name) is only for Fridays.

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A lack of physical contact in public; if you’re on a sweet date keep it to yoself.

And I haven’t seen any alcohol. I’m not looking, mum, but I do regularly pass establishments filled with males who are smoking cigarettes, drinking tea, watching futbol, and very obviously not drinking beer.

Jamaica, a place which has been by faaaaaaaaar the most aggressive and threatening country I have ever visited (and I’m thankful for that) gave me my foundation for traveling. It set the bar. And how! They have this expression: “If alligator come out of river and tell ya say river stone hot, believe him.” In this proverb the alligator is good and he’s a local coming from a local place (the river) telling us something that’s hard to believe. ‘What, Mr Alligator?!’, I would be libel to respond, ‘Riverstones can’t be hot! How is that possible?!’ But you haffi believe him because he is a local and has just come from the bottom of the river and the alligator knows.

Which is how I came to drink the tap water in Africa the very same day I arrived.

An alligator named Achraf told me it was okay.
And how, on Day 3, I left Tangier and touched the road with my phalange in the breeze hitchiking in Ahhhhhhfrica. And, other than loose bowels and mildly annoying drivers by not being able to communicate, things went off without a hitch. Or with the right amount of hitches, depending, semantically, on which way you want to look at it.

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A country that somehow finds the balance between having 4 wives but letting women drive.

Things went so well, in fact, that I don’t buy bottled water and after I decided to rent my own car (for the freedom) I now pay it forward and now pick up local ‘hitchhikers’; Moroccan people motioning for a taxi. Old men, children, and occasionally women open my door and come along for a ride 🙂 I have learned the word for welcome and say it often — Mirhaba.

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The passanger seat is rarely empty.

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The first ones I saw, had to do a u-turn!

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#refugees

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This is a good month to come, the air has been cool and refreshing.

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In El Jadid this is  called The Portuguese Cistern.

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I’m Muslim on bad hair days.

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They love hockey here!

Also, I have been invited to a wedding on Sunday!!!! By the man at the car rental place who no doubt feels very bewildered and possibly sorry for me. Here’s a roundabout story of how that happened: People from other countries seem to have a different rubic for what makes a ‘good’ table choice at the restaurant. For example, I’ve often wanted sun and they insist on shade. Or they’ll put me near the kitchen when I’d prefer to be outside or near a window. Ect., ect. For reasons not fully understood by either party we both seem to have a totally different idea of what we consider “the best table in this restaurant”. I’ve been finding this funny and also I’ve been applying it to other things.

Like renting a car.

I asked for the most beat up junker that this agency had, the vehicle with the most scratches, dents, and bangs. I’m not perfect and I need a car who will understand me. Also, I never buy insurance and driving a scuffed-up car makes me relax.  The rental agent (this aforementioned guy) thought I was being silly and cheerily still brought me the newest, nicest car that they had. I had to keep explaining that I really didn’t want that one and he became very confused although eventually he acquiesced, with much head scratching and some unnecessary tears on my end. Later that night he politely telephoned to make sure I had gotten to where I was going safely. And then he also mentioned that if I didn’t have anything to do on Sunday I could go with him to a wedding. (!!!!!) I couldn’t say yes quickly enough.

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Home sweet home

At night I look at the huge African sky (it really does seem bigger here) and find shooting stars (as long as it’s not cloudy and I’m worried about flashfloods), and text my exact coordinates to friends for security (even though I still get a healthy dose of scared-out-of-my-freaking-mind every two hours when a car passes).  I have to mention that everyone here has been really, really (excessively) helpful.

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I even get to hear the call to prayer in places as remote as this!

Lots of good things have happened to me and here is a picture of one of them:

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I had been courting him.

I’m trying to be brave, kind in abundance, and a good girl,
‘mi

2 Responses to “Moroccan’ Roll”

  1. Jerry and Kathy Pitts March 5, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

    Oh that was such fun reading!! We are so proud of you Sammi. Wish we were traveling with you to quel the ‘scared out of my freaking mind’ times (or maybe the 3 of us would be). You are right about Jamaica being scary too! Sending our love and prayers. Kathy and Jerry

  2. deekerson March 6, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    Loved your “retro” style post. It gives me a real feel for your adventure. The photos are phenomenal. Love you loads. Dad.

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