01.07.2009 - 01.07.2009 78 °F
Morocco's reigning monarch, King Hassan II, likens his country to a desert palm: "rooted in Africa, watered by Islam and rustled by the winds of Europe." Morocco can appear mystical, magical and foreboding all at once.
I am living in modern Rabat. You can imagine streets and highways lined with palm trees swaying in a gentle, warm breeze and highways decorated with vibrant hibiscus, bouganvilla, roses, pansies, and even lavender bushes. The surrounding ground is coated in a deep orange dirt. There are neighborhoods of white riads decorated with ornate wrought iron, mosaic doors, flowing fountains, and lanterns made of brightly colored glass. Downtown in filled with honking cars and buses and constant foot traffic everywhere you look. There is a mix of old and new: women cloaked in full burkas, while others are dressed very stylishly and with modern european flair.
Rabat is gorgeous. I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful house that used to be owned by the former ambassador. There are 25 people from the CCS program living here, along with 5 staff members...think Read World: Rabat....yet, without all the fighting, nakedness, and booze...alright, so it's nothing like it, but living with so many people has sure been an experience.
There are some fantastically interesting people in the program who I love to spend time with. I have become good friends with a Texan named Jami, who is a wickedly funny high school English teacher with an incredible outlook on life and people...and she's pretty amazing to watch with the orphans. After everyone else goes to sleep, she and I stay up talking about life, sharing stories, and feeling truly blessed for all that we are experiencing. I also laugh with Natalia and Charlie, who could be the most sickeningly gorgeous couple I have ever laid eyes on (except for King and myself...obviously! ), who also have a penchant for telling hilarious stories that make me laugh until I cry. We have a huge backyard where we drink our daily sweet tea from under the shade of a lemon tree, or to just sit and play backgammon, read books, or unwind from our volunteering.
We are quickly becoming akin to Pavlov's dogs as we rush to our seats as soon as our breakfast, lunch, or dinner bell rings...mouths watering. We eat our meals together either outside on the patio, or in our main living area.
It is very safe and comfortable and more than I could have ever expected. We are also so spoiled to have traditional Moroccan cooks to prepare all of our meals for us. They are delicious! Our lunch yesterday consisted of couscous with grilled eggplant, legumes, and pumpkin, a spicy lentil soup, black olive and orange salad, and Moroccan lamb cooked in clay tagine. I was hoping to get "bikini ready" for Spain and the Canaries...yet, I can't resist the smells, spices, and flavors of our daily dishes (nor should I!). Stretch pants (aka "buffet pants") and cotton dresses, here I come!
Rabat is also a horticulturists dream: palm trees, hibiscus, bouganvilla, roses, pansies, lavender, fig trees, orange trees, and more decorate sidewalks, highways, and parks. It is so lush and the temperature is fairly mild and comfortable. We sleep with the windows and doors open each night to get a relaxing breeze through the house...and the openness provides the added bonus of allowing us to wake up each morning to the daily call to prayer. It is such an important ritual for Islam and an incredible daily event to witness first hand. The call to prayer rings out from the mosques five times a day. Here's a link to this melodious prayer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAvlimEYEpQ