Friday, July 3, 2009

Long post

So, I promised a long post about yesterday, my long, busy day.

We ended class early and went to listen to student presentations. The students that have been taking classes for a while gave presentations in Arabic about whatever they wanted- recycling, the Iraq war, the U. Michigan/U. Ohio rivalry. It was super interesting, and I was surprised by how much I could understand. And, inshallah, next time there are presentations I can do one.

After class, I hung around school, took a nap in the tent, and then went on an excursion to Villes des Artes, an art museum. It has art by Moroccan artists and international artists, and it was pretty nice. I'll put some pictures up on facebook. There is a section that is the 6th largest virtual museum in the world, or something like that, but it was closed yesterday so we couldn't see it.

When we got back to school, we decided that instead of going home we would run some errands before we met the guys to go to the restaurant. So we walked to the bank, the grocery store, and the cafe. I was proud of myself for having a decent sense of direction and getting us places. At the cafe, Samuela and I decided we were going to try coffee; neither of us drinks it or likes it, but we thought, we're in Morocco, let's try something new! Like I said yesterday, I had café au lait, and I actually liked it, but Samuela had an espresso and did not.

We walked to the villa- the old school that’s now a residence where some of the guys live, then we caught a cab to the restaurant. It wasn’t that exciting of a restaurant, and I don’t know if I would go back, it’s kinda expensive and I can eat all that at home. But it was nice to socialize with people. We talked about a bunch of different things, and we found out that Olga is deathly afraid of spiders when she saw one on TV and screamed. The whole restaurant went silent.

Afterwards we had to walk around and find a ton of cabs. All the guys are really nice, and they’re really good about making sure we’re all ok before they find cabs for themselves. We all really appreciate it- it’s one thing to be walking around alone on the Stanford campus at night, which I barely do, but in a foreign country, as a westerner and a women, head uncovered…not a great idea. Then we got back, I talked to some people online, and then I headed to bed.

This morning I was exhausted because I didn’t get much sleep. But class was SO interesting. It was like, tailor made for me. We talked about religion basically the entire time, basically the Abrahamic religions- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I learned so much, and it was so so interesting, basically exactly what I’m planning on studying for the rest of my time at Stanford. We talked a lot more about Islam after the break, and it was so wonderful. I loved it! Today was the last day in this level, next week I start Beginning 3 with another teacher. I’ll miss Hasan, though, he was a great teacher.

Today for lunch there was couscous. I learned in class that the reason Moroccans traditionally eat couscous on Fridays is because it’s an easy meal to prepare a lot of in case guests come to eat after prayer at the mosque. So that was interesting. This couscous was with lamb, squash, potatoes, carrots, and this sauce of caramelized onions and almonds that was sweet. It was delicious!

After lunch, I went to the medina (old city) with Samuela, Tifen (sp? it’s pronounced like Tiffany but without the y, but it’s spelled differently, I know), Alejandra, and Patrick. We just walked around in the market- the farther in you get, the more traditional stuff they have. But on the outskirts is just places Moroccans go, so they have western-style clothes and shoes and DVDs, etc. I bought a pair of red sandals that are really comfortable, at the suggestion of Ale, who has several pairs. She bought them all at different places, and she said the ones from that stall are by far the most comfortable. I wanted the turquoise ones, but they didn’t have my size, so I got red, which I think will go with more things anyway. I’m really excited to have them, they’re really cute!

We walked through and got the same bread with honey that I got last time, and then went back to Oudaya to sit at the little café. We got drinks, and some people got some of the pastries that we had last time on the excursion. It was so pretty, just sitting out over the water. I took Tifen’s Coca Cola bottle because it says it in Arabic (كوكا كولا)- I think it’s cool. My drawmates and I have a habit of putting flowers in glass bottles, like San Pellegrino or Izze, so I thought I’d bring one home to take to my dorm with me next year. A free souvenir!

Now I’m back in my dorm. I’ll be moving to Olga’s room tonight, so I’ll have a roommate until next Saturday, and then we’ll see if I get another one. But at least I’ll be in a double.

Tomorrow morning we’re leaving the dorm at 7 to catch a cab to the Rabat Agdal train station. We’ll go from here to Meknes, walk around there, then to Volubilis, the Roman ruins, then to Fes. We’ll return from Fes on Sunday afternoon or evening. I’m excited to go!!

The following weekend there’s a school-sponsored weekend excursion to Marrakesh. The weekend after is free, and then a 3 day trip to the Sahara!!!! Then another free weekend, and then I’m home. During one of the free weekends, I think Samuela and I are going to try to go to Spain. We’ll go up to Tangier, take the ferry across the Strait of Gilbraltar to somewhere in the south of Spain (I don’t care where, it will just be fun to go!), and stay a night in Spain, then head back Sunday to Rabat. We’ll see if that happens.

Ok, that’s it. I know I wrote a lot, but it has to hold you until Sunday when I’m back with my internet.


Thursday, July 2, 2009


is how I feel right now. So I'll give a brief update and fill in the blanks tomorrow.

Ater class and lunch I hung around school, and took a brief nap in the tent outside. Then we went on an excursion to Ville des Artes, an art museum. It was nice- I got some gorgeous pictures. I'll put them up tomorrow. Then we came back to school, went to the bank and the supermarket, and a cafe. I had coffee- my first time really drinking more than a few sips. It was actually pretty good- cafe au lait so it had a lot of milk and I added sugar. But actually, not bad. So it was good. Samuela and I said we would try coffee, because neither of us like it. But she's lactose intolerant, and so she got an espresso, and it was bitter, of course. Then we met up with the guys at the villa (the old school building, it's a residence now), and went to Les Deux Palais (the two palaces), a resteraunt. It wasn't Moroccan, though. It was nice to go out, but starting next week I'll hopefully have a stove and will be cooking a lot. And when I go out I want to eat Moroccan food, except when Olga and I go to McAraby- McDonald's but with a local twist. It'll be fun to see once.

Ok, I'm finishing up some work and then going to bed. I left the dorm this morning around 8 and i got back at like, 11:45, so it's been a long day. Tomorrow I'll be relaxing, so I promise I'll write a long post, and I'll also be around on Skype and gChat and AIM. And then Saturday morning we go to Meknes, Volubilis, and Fes!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another day down!
Today, I woke up, went to school, and ate breakfast, and then I had class. First we talked to partners about what we had done the day before, and about other stuff. We do a lot of talking, it's mainly building oral proficiency. We did some grammar, and then we made up a story together. The point of that was to see that it's not as hard to think in Arabic after all! My teacher is not a native speaker (I'm not sure where he's from, he may be Moroccan but Berber, because the Berber speak their own languages), so he told us that he was once in our position, knowing no Arabic, but now he is an expert! Our story was about a frog and a cockroach that are friends, but secretly the frog wanted to eat the cockroach. It turned out to be a kind of myth that explains something- Lisa had a cockroach in her room this morning, and in our story the frog and cockroad live in the dorm in which I live, but then the cockroach figured out that the frog wanted to eat it and moved to Lisa's house- it's her new roommate. It was fun. I like sentence stories. It wasn't as good as some I've written before ( it was probably close.

For lunch we had a peper and tomato salad, and a meat tagine (stew) with potatos, tomatoes, and other vegetables. There was also bread and water. And then I Skyped with Matt while he was getting ready for work! It was really nice- I sat outside, first at a table and then in the tent and had a short conversation with him before he headed off to work in Boston.

Last night, I decided I didn't want to go to the beach today because I was really tired. I thought the same this morning, because it took me a while to fall asleep last night. But this afternoon I changed my mind. I dropped my laptop off at the dorm and got swimming stuff, and then headed back. We left the school around 3:30, caught a grand taxi. They're these old Mercedes' that go between cities. You get very close with your fellow passengers- besides the driver, they manage to squeeze 6 people in there. We went to Temara, about a half hour drive outside of Rabat. It was lovely. The sand was HOT. And the water was cold, but really nice. We spread out some towels and sat. I wasn't sure what to expect people to be wearing, but there were a lot of Moroccan women there in bikinis. I wore a pair of swim trunks and a sports bra, and no one realy looked twice. I definitly got some sun. Afterwards we took a grand taxi back to Rabat and ate in a small cafe. I had penne "pesto" - it was very white, for pesto.

Then we came back, I did my homework, and I'm going to head to bed soon. I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


So, we went on our excursion to Oudaya. There was a fort and a prison and the beach. We mainly just walked around. For pictures:

It was really fun just to walk around. Our guide, Mohammad, who guides all the local excursions with the school, doesn't speak much English at all. We got vocab sheets with info about Oudaya. I was talking to Mohammad a little, and we talked about my name (inevitable, really, in a predominantly Muslim country. Aisha was one of the wives of the prophet Mohammad, the youngest- and prettiest, of course!), and I spoke some Arabic with him, just talking about some stuff. It made me feel good to be able to do it! I know that he's used to dealing with the students, so he speaks very slowly and with simple vocab, but still. It was nice. And so so gorgeous.

When we came back, we showered and stuff, and then walked down to the same area I've been eating. We ate at a place that was a little bit nicer. I ate chicken brochette - like kebab- and it came with fries and a little salad and a little rice. I didn't finish mine, so I think tomorrow I'll stay in and eat some leftover rice, chicken, and bread, and I have bananas and yogurt and mango juice. I also had fresh squeezed OJ today...mmm.

I'm in my room now, just hanging out. I'll try to go to bed soon cause I'm exhausted from walking around. Oh, and I need to do my homework. Tomorrow we're going to try to go to the beach.



If you don't have a facebook, you can look at the pictures I post on Facebook with this link, since it's easier to post them there than here.
So, I'm done with my second day of class! It was good. Angela ended up in my class, too, and Olga was but then moved back to B1. Today we talked about: death penalty, birthdays, and getting married. It doesn't sound related, but somehow my teacher, Hasan, managed to flow neatly from one to the other. Even though I'm ahead in the book, I'm liking the review and there's a lot of talking, and new vocab I haven't learned. I also wrote a personal ad. It was fun.

This morning, I got up at 7, got dressed (in my new awesome shirt from Gap that I'm in love with, and my wonderful linen pants that I wish I had more of- yes, Mom, you were right). Olga and I headed over to find the shuttle, which actually came today. This morning it was overcast, but it burned off and it's lovely outside again. The weather is mild- Rabat is on the ocean, so it's not as stifling as other places. There's a lovely breeze (Tara, LOVELY!), and it's cool. Apparently, though, Fes and Marrakesh and those places are very very hot. So we'll see.

I had breakfast here at school again, bread and OJ, and tea at 10:30- it's so yummy! I'll probably have tea again before I leave at 4. I ate lunch here at school- lamb stew and bean soup. And now I'm hanging out. We tried to get them to organize an excursion to Fes, Meknes, and Volubilis for the weekend, but the school won't organize one. We're going to plan one ourselves- so far we have 6 girls and one guy and hopefully another guy. We'll catch a train to Fes, walk around, and stay for the night, then head back sometime on Sunday in the afternoon or evening. I think it's going to be really fun!

At 4, there's a school-sponsored trip to Oudaya, part of the old city. I'll be going on that. The transportation is free, but we have to pay the entrance fees. I'm excited about it. That's really all I have for now- my day until 2 is class and lunch pretty much. I'll try to update later with stuff about Oudaya.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 1.

This won't be a long one, because I'm headed to bed soon (I have to be at school in 9 hours!)

I have internet in my room now...yay! Ethernet (I'm glad I brought my cable even though they told me it was wireless), but it's connected. It was very complicated. But! I figured it out by myself, from instructions in French, no less! I was very proud of myself.

Last night I fell asleep fairly easily, but I woke up several times during the night. When I woke up at 7, I got dressed and went outside. I knew a shuttle came to take us to school, but didn't know what time- it was all very vague. So I stood outside and waited for the Americans, just like I said I would. And what do you know, I found one, and sure enough, she was headed to the School. But the shuttle never came and we ended up taking a cab. But we got there and had breakfast (egg, toast, LAUGHING COW CHEESE - I love that stuff - and OJ. Then I had a placement test for the first 2 hour block of class. I was pretty confident with it, some stuff I didn't know, but randomly scattered throughout the sections, so mainly just vocab stuff. At 10:30 we had a tea break- yummy Moroccan mint tea, but with a TON of sugar. Then I went back to class- there are three girls that have been here and one other new girl in my level. We finish out this week in Beginner 2 and then move to B3 next week. Chapter-wise, I'm behind a little now, because we finsihed through Ch 12 at Stanford and right now we're in chapter 8, but it's a good review, and by next week I'll be back on track.

Then we had lunch and new student orientation. Among the new students, there's a guy from Spain, girls from Italy, France, and Belgium, and the rest of us (about 3 or 4) are American. Our orientation was about an hour and a half and covered a ton of stuff, a lot of which was in the orientation guide they emailed out before. After that, I was just kinda sitting around, and then talked to Chris, here for 2 weeks from the State Department, Angela, from Ohio, and Olga, who was born in Russia, grew up in Italy, and has lived in Belgium for the last 11 years. Angela and Olga decided to go the medina, the old city, so we walked to a bank to change money and then caught a petite taxi to the medina. Once we got there, we just walked around a lot, looking at all the different vendors. Angela bought a leather purse (camel, probably), but mainly we looked. I'm defintely going back to buy stuff- shoes, shirts, wooden boxes, candle holders, scarves, wallets, jewelry, Lovely! (Tara, I'm WHALISH!) We also found this lovely bread stuff and got it with honey and it was delish.

Something they told us in orientation that is definitly true is that the merchents in Rabat are used to foreigners (since it's the capatial, all the embassies and their assocaited staff live in Rabat), so they're a lot more laid back. There's not really pressure to buy, once you say "No thanks," so it's easy to just browse. Olga said she was in Tunisia and once you touched something, there was no way there were letting you out without buying it! And Alejandra- from El Salvador, goes to school in upstate New York, and has spent the last year abroad in Paris- said that's how it was in Fes, as well. Most of the foreigners there are tourists, so it's a different vibe.

We spent a long time in the medina, and then headed back to get our stuff from school. Angela is staying in a homestay, but Olga is in the same dorms as I am, two doors down, so we decided to try the walk back to see how far it was. It was about a 45 minute walk, totally doable, but not ideal. We came back and showered, etc, then went over to Ale's room. She gave me the information to set up internet. Then Audia (sp?) came over- she's Brazilian- and we all just talked for quite a while. They're all super nice. Ale's here until the end of July, Audia until August 19 (she'll be here a total of 6 months), and Olga just for two weeks. Then Olga and I went to get food at the same place I went yesterday. I swear my burger had strawberry jam on it. I bought more water, and now I'm back in my room, getting ready to go to bed.

Olga is in a double, but her roommate never showed up, and I'm still in a single, so we asked today if we can maybe move in together. We seem to have simlar habits- neither of us wants to go out at night, really. She's leaving after two weeks, though, but we might do it anyway. I'd have moved down there today if we could have gotten another key tonight, but I didn't want to without the key. So we'll see how that goes. We're meeting tomorrow morning at 7:40 to go out and get on the shuttle. Apparently it came today, but not until 8:05 or so, and the girls I was with just caught taxis with us. But hopefully I can get one tomorrow.

At orientation, they told us that there wouldn't be a weekend excursion this weekend, but as this is Olga's only weekend and she was really looking forward to it, she and Angela pressed for one. They said they needed at least 8 people, but out of the new students, there were already 6 that said they would go, so we felt pretty confident that we can find 2 more students out of all the rest of the school. We'd either go to Marrakesh or to Fez, Meknes, and Volubilis. I'm excited...I have class all morning but after lunch we're on our own, and it's lovely to hang out with people, but I think the weekend would get really long if we didn't go out of the city.

The weekly excursions, though, are still on- tomorrow we go to Ouadaya, part of the old city, I guess. I'll let you know more tomorrow after I go!

I guess I'm going to head to bed now, since I'm getting up at 7 or 7:15. More tomorrow, especially since I now have internet in my room!

Much love,
An update from last night. I'll try to write more tonight if I get internet.

I’m back at the dorm now. While I was at the Center using the internet, I met some of the students who are staying at the apartments that are right there. One of them, Mike, is American, and actually has family that lives in Durham. He was wearing a Carolina shirt, though…boooo! I guess he’s already graduated from college but is planning on doing something focusing in the Middle East for grad school, but doesn’t know any Arabic. So he came here a little while ago and is going to take all the Arabic classes offered, starting with Beginner’s 1 and going through Advanced 3- he’s going to be here for a while. We cover about 2 chapters a week, I think- I’ll be starting with the last week of Beginner 2, spending most of my time on Beginner 3, and finishing with a week of Intermediate 1, assuming my placement test goes about as planned. Mike was really helpful, letting me know that the address I had was actually just a residence, and that if I need to get to the Center another time, which address and what landmarks to provide to the taxi driver. And one of the staff members stopped by and provided me with something I can show the taxi driver that describes in Arabic where to go to get back to my dorm. That was really helpful. Mike walked me out to a bakery to grab some food, but they were closed, so we walked over to the main road and I caught a taxi back to my dorm, Beyt Maarifa. I wish I spoke French because it’s actually an official language here, and it would do me a lot of good. Luckily, though, that means that most people are fairly good at reading the Latin alphabet, so I can write down addresses and they can find it. The thing is, I can sound out Arabic script, and I can spell things phonetically, but phonetic spelling isn’t always right, and sometimes it’s not even close. But tomorrow I’ll start class and study a lot and focus on being able to communicate, and on trying even if I’m not sure I’m right. I’m going to spend some time tonight looking over vocab in the textbook and phrases in my guidebook.

I made it back to my dorm and managed to figure out where to get food, though it took a little. I asked for “ta’am,” food in Arabic, and finally they figured it what I was talking about and pointed me to what I thought was “Compass” but was, in fact, “Campus.” My residence is actually a dorm located on the campus of a college here in Rabat, and I guess this is a little shopping center type area students hang out. There were several small markets and café. So for tonight, I’m having a hamburger, fries, rice, strawberry yogurt, bread, mango juice, and a lot of water. There’s a little fridge in here, but no stove. Tomorrow I’ll get breakfast and lunch at the Center, and then figure out dinner. Supposedly in the morning a bus will come that picks up all the students for the Center and drops us off. I’m not really sure what time it comes, so my plan is to get up, eat some yogurt, and go sit outside and wait for the hordes of Americans to show up. =) That’s not completely true, but Mike did tell me that the majority of students at the Center are American, though today I met Patrick and William, who are Irish and Belgian, I think. But I assume it’s not going to be too difficult to spot the Westerners among all the Moroccan students that are here.

I’m trying to figure out if I’m going to stick way out in the clothes I brought. With the Center’s dress code- basically being covered from neck to knees, including sleeves on shirts, I don’t have shorts or tank tops, but I would definitely stick out in those if I had any. Most of the female students I’ve seen around the dorm are either wearing jeans and long sleeves or traditional Moroccoan robes that, while flowy and probably pretty cool, button up to the neck, have long sleeves, and fall at the ankles. My knee length skirts and fitted t-shirts, while fairly conservative on the Stanford campus and in Durham, will probably stick out a little here, though they are definitely still appropriate.

I found out today that Morcco now does Daylight Savings Time, as of last year, so we are actually 5 hours ahead of the east coast and 8 hours ahead of the west. Since this is relatively new, my computer refuses to recognize it- when I put it on GMT-Casablanca, it’s an hour behind GMT- London, which is what the actual time is now with DST. So that was a little confusing at first, but I managed to get it squared away before I left the Center so I know I’ll be up at the right time tomorrow for class. Thanks to Matt for helping me figure it out…

My dorm is so lonely and quiet (Erica, if you’re reading this, I know exactly how you feel out there in your shed), so I’m listening to music. I’m going to finish eating and then do some reading and then get some sleep. Tomorrow everything starts! =)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

In Morocco!

So, after all my build-up, I'm finally here! It's been a long day, 2 days, technically, but they've run together with the time changes.

So, this morning at 11 am I left my house (after a frantic search for my cellphone), got in the car, and drove to the aiport. I checked in, and my bag was pretty much dead on weigh-wise. But then I walked away from the counter and realized I didn't have any boarding passes. So I had to go back and get those from him. I got through security...and then my sister called me to tell me I had left my sweatshirt outside with her. So then she had to send it through security for me. The rest of my time in Durham was uneventful. I talked to Tara a little (lions! haha) and highlighted stuff in my guidebook. Then I saw a little girl getting ready to fly by herself to Boston, and her mom and sisters were at the gate saying bye to her. When I asked if it was the first time she had flown alone, her mom said no, but that it was still hard for her to let her little girl go. I told her I knew, that I'm almost 20 and it's hard for my mom to let me go. :) My mom went kinda camera crazy at the airport, so here are some of those pictures. Just a couple, and maybe more on Facebook later, and I'll stick a link on here.

The plane to Boston was tiny- it was only 13 rows, and my backpack didn't even fit in the overhead bin. Even though I usually sleep on planes, this one was cramped enough that I didn't really, just dozed a little. Mostly I read this book my Mom got me, "Dreams of Trespass" by Fatima Mernissi, who grew up in a harem in Fez, Morocco. But not the kind of harem you're thinking about, where a man, usually a prince or king or sultan, has hundreds of wives. Instead, Mernissi classifies it as a "domestic harem," which is basically extended family living together. Her father only had one wife, but her father's brothers, their wives, and all their children lived together in a house. Mernissi says that what classified this as a harem was the restrictions on women- not allowed to leave the house very often, not supposed to listen to the radio, etc etc. I'm about a third of the way through, but so far it's really interesting. I think the guy in the seat next to me thought I was kinda weird because I was sitting with my stuffed coyote on my lap the whole time.

After about an hour an a half, I landed in Boston. The plane was too small to go up to the gate at such a big airport, so we walked out onto the tarmac and then inside the terminal. And then Matt came to see me! We spent a little over an hour together, getting food outside the international terminal in Boston and just talking, and then I stood in the ridiculously long security line until they called all passengers to Paris to walk down the faster side since the plane was supposedly about to board. But then it didn't board for at least 20 minutes, but I was glad to be at the gate anyway.

When I finally boarded, it was a very nice plane. I was on the second level. We had individual movie screens, and I watched Coraline. I missed the beginning, but I thought it was pretty good. Then I listened to some music, dozing in and out. They fed us dinner- chicken with green curry and rice, a breadstick, water, cheese, tapioca pudding, and a brownie that I didn't eat because it had bananas in it, and I don't like bananas in things. I dozed in and out for the rest of the flight, just listening to music. At 5:00 am Paris time, what my body thought it was midnight, I got breakfast (yogurt, a chocolate chip roll, and OJ) and watched the sun come up over the clouds. It was really pretty.

When I got to Paris, I had to go to a different gate for my last flight. The security line was really, really long, and so I asked one of the employees if I had to stand in it- at this point it was 6:45 and my flight was supposed to board starting at 7:05 and leave at 7:35. Again I got to cut the line. It was really hot, and really cramped, and took a while even so, so by the time I got to the other side it was 7:05. But I didn't have to take off my shoes, so that saved a little time. Then I ran to the gate, and they were boarding. I found it, and got in line behind this guy. I hoped he spoke English and asked him if he knew if they were boarding everyone or not. He did speak English, but he had no idea. So we decided to stand in line and hope for the best. The line was kinda long, so we started talking. Turns out he was also coming to Morocco to study Arabic, but in Marrakesh instead of Rabat. He was a UCLA basketball player (Jess, I thought of you...) When we finally gave them our boarding passes, we walked down what I thought was the jetway, and then at the end down some stairs...and there was a bus. We were a little confused, but we got on it. We ended up sitting there for quite some time, just talking about school and Arabic. The bus pulled away around 7:30 and drove around the tarmaac to another terminal and finally to our plane which was sitting out in the middle of the tarmac. I'm not sure exactly what time we actually left, probably close to 8 or maybe even later. I was sitting next to a really nice Canadian couple who helped me put my backpack in the overhead bin because I was too short (the lady actually said, "Here, let me help you, I'm 5"9'. My life is sad.) I dozed in and out on this flight too, and read some. I woke up when they brought breakfast- croissant, roll, cheese, and OJ. I didn't feel that great- had a headache and felt hot because the airvent didn't really reach me. I was hungry, though, so I started eating, but it didnt' help much. I'm not sure if the lunch I ate in Boston or the dinner or breakfast on the plane to Paris were bad, because my stomach decided to empty itself. I did feel better after that...and the couple I was sitting next to was really nice about offering me napkins and calling the flight attendant to take my tray away and bring me some water. For a while after that I just curled up with Dug, my coyote, and my iPod, and dozed in and out. I woke up when we were flying over Morocco, and looked out at the buidings and landscape.

When we landed in Casablanca, I took my time getting off the plane, and then out into the airport. I stood in line for a while at Immigration, only to learn that I needed a stamp on the information card I had filled out on the plane. I'd walked right by the guys that were supposed to stamp. But it wasn't just me...they just weren't telling people that they needed to get stamps in their passport. So I went back and got it, and then stood in line again, and finally got out. The guy I met on the plane told me that you had to have your boarding pass from your flight into Casblanca, that if you didn't still have it they could make you pay for another ticket- luckily I had mine. Then, right after they stamped my passport, I had to get it checked by security before I could get downstairs. The long time it had taken me to get down to the baggage claim meant that my bag was ready for me when I got there. And it hadn't been lost! Quite a feat, considering I took 3 flights and had last seen it about 20 hours ago...kudos to Delta and Air France for that. I went out into the arrivals area, and it was a little disconcerting to feel out of place because most of the women were wearing headscarves and long, long-sleeved robes. I wasn't dressed scantily at all in a blue t-shirt and long linen pants, but it was just a little bit of a shock to be surrounded by people that were so covered up. Even a lot of the men were wearing the traditional Moroccan robe and hat. When I got into the arrival area, my lifelong goal was finally reached: someone was standing there waiting for me with an official sign with my name on it. I was so happy! I went and changed a little money and then got in the taxi to Rabat.

My taxi driver was very nice- I don't remember his name now, but he told me. And he also told me his mother's name is Aisha. He works with the Center, driving people back and forth to the airport. He spoke English fairly well. I felt bad because I kept falling asleep because I hadn't gotten a full night's sleep, and, let's face it, I tend to fall asleep on long car rides anyway. He seemed surprised at first that I was tired, but when he found out that I had been on airplaces for about 11 hours, he seemed to understand a bit more. What I did see of the area between Casablanca and Rabat struck me as very very similar to Curacao- same brownish vegetative ground cover with some trees and what looked like oleander and bouganvillia bushes to add color. The bases of some trees were even painted white- I used to know why they did this, but I forgot. I think it has to do with stopping goats and sheep from eating the bark, but I could be making that up completely. I saw a lot of goats and sheep, too, and a lot of people walking around. When we got to the Center, I checked in, paid, and then got in another taxi to my apartment. I guess because it's the weekend they couldn't get the key to my double room, so I'm staying in a single tonight and maybe another couple nights. But they also couldn't get the internet access code, so right now I'm back in the Center using the wireless there, and then hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to get on the internet in my room at night, which would be when I would probably talk to anyone because of the time difference.

The apartments I'm staying in, more like dorms, really, are gorgeous. They're a bunch of buildings clustered around a nice gardeny area. I didn't get pictures of the outside, yet, but here's a picture of the inside. Right now I'm in a single with a private bath, but then I guess I'll be moved to a double with a private bath. I guess I'll meet my roommate when that happens. When I got there, I took a shower, changed, and then caught a taxi back to the Center so I could get on the internet. It was an adventure, because he didn't really know where the street was- we stopped to ask several times- and we couldn't communicate all that well. But I'm here now, and I need to figure out how to get some food and also the address of my dorm so I can get back there eventually. And then tomorrow I have a placement test and some other stuff to take care of, and then I start class!

Wow, this was long. But it's pretty much the last 24 hours of my life, very eventful. And now I'm on my own in terms of food and to do what I want until 7:45 tomorrow morning when the bus comes. I think I'll probably sleep pretty well tonight, considering I didn't really sleep last night.

I love you all! :)