Thursday, January 28, 2010

I've Got A Feeling....A Feeling Deep Inside....Oh Yeah.....

For the first time in five days, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, no rain, no snow. At noon I'm signing up to be apart of the explorer's club, to satisfy my inner Indiana Jones. Going to the market to get some supplies. My mom is sending me a new pair of shoes. Class from 6:30-8:00, then a trip to the local watering hole. It's gonna a good day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Learning To Breathe..................

This evening all the exchange students were invited to tour the mosque here at Al-Alakhawayn.  The mosque is a beautiful place both inside and out. The imam sat and spoke with us about the mosque in general and the purpose it serves as a place of worship for all Muslims.  We were treated to a recitation from the Qur'an by the imam and were also allowed to ask questions.  Even though I didn't understand what the imam was reciting, it was all in Arabic, it was eloquent none the less. I really saw the beauty of the Arabic language, the beauty of the Islamic faith and how devoted Muslims are to their religion.  I was struck by how open the imam was about the Islamic faith and how willing he was to answer any and every question. He kept repeating tolerance and acceptance of all people. This is a far cry from the blood thirsty "religion of the sword" image of Islam that is often portrayed in the United Sates, i.e. Fox News.  I was quite in awe of being in the presence of the imam. A man who has devoted his entire life to the study of his faith.  I am not a particularly religious person, I never have been. I'm not an atheist, I have just never felt any connection with a particular religious group, but sitting in the mosque in the presence of such a devoted and spiritual man, was a very moving experience. I certainly felt closer to "god," what ever he/she/it may be.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cold, Rain and Snow

First of all, it rained all day yesterday.  The weather consisted of a brutal three pronged attack of wind, rain, and cold. (They never mentioned that in the brochure)  I can accept one and would normally be just fine, however the trifecta made for miserable day. I discovered my waterproof boots are not as waterproof as they claimed to be. My roommate also showed up yesterday and said all of five words, "Hello my name is Yassine." So by night fall I was ready for some action.  I went out to the club or disco-tech and got my first taste of Moroccan night life.  We went to a bar called Agoumam(have to check on the spelling)and had some Heineken for 25 dirhams, equals to about $3.00 a beer. Several bottles of Moroccan wine were also consumed. We then went to the disco-tech. Loud, smokey, and full of strobe lights.  It appears that Morocco is in love with techno and house remixes of popular songs. Very Interesting.  After a couple of Heineken's at 50 dirhams a piece, ouch, that hurt, and finishing my pack of Luckies, the consensus was to go back to campus.  The quote of the evening came from Matt, a fellow Ohioan and general seeker of knowledge: "My Arabic is better when I'm drunk." Followed by: "I understand Arabic better when I'm drunk too."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Save It For A Rainy Day

A rainy morning in the Atlas Mountains.  It's been near 65 degrees and sunshine since I've been here, their calling for snow this weekend.  I've been told it comes in the feet. Though I can't complain. In Ohio I'd be doing one of several things.  Hanging at Eli's, mercilessly beating him at John Madden football, sitting on my couch with a pipe and a movie, or talking to my dog.  I know one of these days he's going to answer me back.  But I'm in Africa.  I still kind of can't believe it.  Before I left I was at my friend Adam's house and I said "Tomorrow I'm going to Africa." We both started laughing.  After all the planning and being asked "Now exactly where is Morocco? I have an idea, but I not sure," the reality that I was actually going still had not hit me at that point. I still don't think it has.  I've been in a state of shock and awe for the last five days. But I'm really loving it here. Aside from some of  the asinine rules at the university; no alcohol, no drugs, no girls, the country is beautiful and the people are some of the most friendly and open people I have ever met.

By the way, I don't remember if I've mentioned this before, I women in Morocco are beautiful. Ma and Pa may have a Moroccan princess as a daughter-in-law come summer. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Glory Bound

Freedom came my way that night 
just like a jet plane IN and out of sight 
I was hauling ass at a million miles an hour 
wondering how hard I'd hit 
When they came into the station 
they said I was bad beyond repair 
But I got no qualms with my situation 
say here I am 
So say cheri cheri won't you dare to 
say cheri cheri won't you dare to 
leave a message and your number please 
Tie them up all my old fantasies 
Put them in a big red bow and send them care of me 
I'm taking a chance on the wind 
I'm packing all my bags 
Taking a mistake I gotta make 
then I'm glory bound 
So I packed it up and I went to the winds 
and I lived out of a VW bus for a year or two 
Ain't nothing but a pipe dream and my guitar 
livin off of apple fields and old cigars 
Diggin this microphone checking it out every night all alone 
the car battery is dead again so I got my head dead set against it 
So say cheri cheri won't you dare to 
say cheri cheri won't you dare to 
leave a message and your number please 
Take the time to want to satisfy me 
Take all those fantasies and send them care of me 
I'm taking a chance on the wind 
I'm packing all my bags 
Taking a mistake I gotta make 
then I'm glory bound 

36 Hours and Two Cartons of Lucky Strikes

I left Cincinnati around 7am on Monday and drove to Columbus to catch my flight.  At the Columbus airport they told me I wouldn't be allowed to go to Morocco because I didn't have a visa. I tried to explain to them that I would get a visa once I got to Morocco. The woman from the consulate said that was not possible.  After a few phone calls everything got cleared up and I was on my way.  Two hours to JFK.  Six hours and several beers later we boarded the plane for Casablanca.  I tried to sleep on the plane but to no avail.  It was loud and just out right uncomfortable. These two Malian fellows, one behind me, kept kicking the back of my seat, and the other one, right beside me, wouldn't shut up. (Note to self: First class on all future international flights.)

Landed in Casablanca around 6:30, got through customs and boarded the 8:00 train for Casa Voyageurs.  Casablanca had a pungent smell of urine and I was shocked at how dilapidated and run down the city was. Not sure what Rick and Sam saw in the city.  Changed trains and headed for Meknes.  The farther inland we got the nicer the country seemed to be. I noticed several people pissing on the side of the train tracks and one fellow even took a squat.  

From Meknes we hailed a cab and finally got to Ifrane.  The cabbie had a cassette tape, the songs were as follows...................

Pink Floyd....Another Brick In The Wall
George Michaels& Elton John.....Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me.
David Bowie....Starman
Otis Redding...Come To Me
Shania Twain....Any Man Of Mine
Chris Issack......Wicked Games
The Scorpions......Winds Of Change

After a dinner of harira and tagine, the purchase of some bottled water, and a viewing of Back To The Future II, it was time to sleep.