Published: November 19th 2012November 19th 2012
So to confront the elephant in the room I deeply apologize for my lack of attentiveness to this blog lately but I've been very busy with my imperative and demanding facebook as well as watching criminal minds....oh and recently listening to Demi Lovato..?? I don't have an excuse for that one. So about two weeks ago was my semester break. I stayed overnight in Casablanca in a Hotel called Moroccan House, and when I ordered the cheapest room and it was probably the most economic hotel in the area I needed to be in, I expected a bed, a bathroom, and maybe a TV and window. I got inside and it was like this plus Moroccan palace. There was at least 10 feet of sofa lining the wall and the bed had a beautiful elaborate overhead hanging. There was a table set and a huge shower/bath. I was questioning if they had messed up and put me in the wrong room or something...So of course I took the longest bath of my life and then ate pizza hut, what any other person would do with a Moroccan suite. In the morning I left fully dressed in a Djellabah and a Hijab, and the host at the guest counter laughed at me. When I got to the airport, as well as on the way there I noticed a DRASTIC difference in how I was treated. Men didn't catcall me at all, in fact they actually seemed to respect me in a way. People also tended to speak to me in Arabic instead of in French, which is what they usually do when they see a white girl. When on the plane I really didn't get so many strange looks, but I was watched very carefully by all of the Italians in the train station. I had a LOVELY reunion with Delaney and we frolicked around Italy for two days, we had pizza, went shopping, said Grazie; it was basically a remake of the Lizzy Mcguire movie. We got on the plane later that week for Paris and I wore Hijab again, and people seemed to be much more skeptical now that we were in a central European area. I even had one man come up to me and ask me in Arabic if I was Muslim and if I spoke Arabic, so I told him yes and he asked me something else, but unfortunately in a dialect I couldn't understand. He was either asking me for food or asking me to accompany to get food. I went to sit down on a curb area and a woman looked like she was about to sit there as well. As soon as I went to sit down she very visibly continued walking instead. My bad went through the scanner and it wasn't until they saw me that security insisted on checking my bag extra for liquids and found the menacing toothpaste container they had expected. I also had one man ignore the fact that he thought my bag was too big to be a carry on because he shyly looked away and got awkward when he saw me. The differences seem so discreet and it is so easy to be blind to our preconcieved stereotypes of people, but it's important to remember that just because someone is wearing Hijab doesn't mean they are wildly different from you. Paris was AMAZING. I was so happy to be with Maddie and Delaney and we all kept saying how surreal it was to be in France together. We had the most ghetto hostel I have ever seen, that apparently does not allow you to be inside of it from the hours of 11am to 3pm. Questionable. I was not content when a man knocked on the door the first day, rudely awakening and informing us of this oversight. Other than that, we had an amazing time wandering around, doing all the touristy things while also taking joy in the small things such as the creepy street bathrooms that looked like teleporters... We were all haunted by the expensiveness of the Euro so we splurged on Starbucks coffee then ate scraps of bread, carrots, and hummus for dinner. I'd say it was a worthwhile balance. On the way home I missed my flight, got stranded in Paris for another night (I know you are thinking "oh how terrible, stuck in Paris", but unfortunately I was in a remote area and didn't have opportunity to take advantage of this last night in France). For the record, the Charles de Gaulle airport is NOT at the Charles de Gaulle metro stop, thank you to my terrific sense of logic. When I finally made it to Casablanca, I found out the trains were not running for another two hours, which would get me home around midnight. I thought it was because it was the Green March holiday, but no, it was because of a soccer match. They put the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry to shame here. I made some friends in the airport though, one Moroccan girl who turned out to be a fashion model and an American boy who is in the AmidEast Abroad program in Rabat, who happens to be studying there with another person from Villanova. Insha'allah i will meet him soon.
The next weekend felt like it came ridiculously quickly. We went to Marrakech and explored everything from an old Berber town, to a Berber pharmacy (where they made us sample everything and we all came out smelling like perfume and a little lightheaded), and famous Jmaa ifnna which is the center of tourism in Marrakech. They have snake charmers, monkey tamers, fortune tellers--just about any street act you can imagine. Since it is touristy, the prices are quite high when you shop. When I first asked the price of something, the man said 400dh. I laughed at him and told him I lived in Rabat in Darija and that that was a ridiculous price, and he immediately lowered it to 100dh. If you ever want to shop in Morocco, go with someone who knows the local lingo, preferably a Moroccan. I loved Marrakech but it was definitely kind of a whirlwind trip since we were still recovering from mid semester break.