The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round…

Yet another week in Morocco has passed. In the last four weeks our program has traveled to many of the major cities in the north and south, as well as to the Sahara Desert and to a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains. Even though I barely do any real exercise, I can’t remember the last time I was so tired. I haven’t been home for an entire weekend in six weeks, but I have a spectacular array of photos from a variety of locations across the country.

Between our stay in the Berber village and our excursion to the north of Morocco this past weekend, we had five days at home in the medina of Rabat. Sunday through Wednesday was spent resting and catching up on emails and homework that I wasn’t able to do in the village. I wrote my midterm paper for my thematic seminar class, worked on developing my ISP topic and decided where I will be living next semester back in Tacoma. Having accomplished most of the tasks on my To Do list by the end of Wednesday, I went out to a late lunch/early dinner with my friends at a Syrian restaurant nearby. I ate an entire plate of hummus with pita bread, a bowl of falafel, and namoura (semolina flour-cake coated in rose water syrup). When I first got to Morocco I was surprised that people here don’t eat hummus (chickpeas are actually called hummus in Arabic), and it was a pleasant treat to be able to order it in a restaurant.

12191699_10207874674727657_3458194794595638683_n

Hummus

12011198_10207874676687706_5422834193152260273_n

Namoura (also called Basbousa)

On Friday we had Arabic class in the morning before leaving for our Northern Excursion in the afternoon. It was obvious that most of us had minimal motivation to actually have a linguistics lesson, because as soon as the class grew restless after we finished giving our presentations on Ashura, our professor sent us out to the streets of the medina to pick us some snacks. We gladly spilled out of the classroom and laughed as we breathed fresh morning air on our short stroll around the souq. Stopping at a fakia hanoot (a small shop that sells a variety of dried fruits and nuts), we bought dates, dried apricots and almonds and returned to our classroom to have a small party for Ashura. During our celebration, we played Hot Seat in Arabic. Thankfully, I was asked fairly neutral questions, mostly about my summer job and what I miss about America, and was not interrogated about my love life in another language, as some were.

After picking up my bags for the weekend from home and eating a quick lunch of couscous and fruit at school, all the students piled on to the bus and settled in for a long afternoon on the road. During the five hours of driving we read, napped, listened to music, and played dozens of rounds of ’20 Questions’. Our first stop on our short journey was M’Diq, about five hours north of Rabat on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco. By the time we arrived it was getting dark, and while my friends went to put their feet in the sea, I opted to take a shower and relax. Though the temperature of water never rose about lukewarm, it was refreshing to feel clean. A little over an hour later we sat down to dinner in our hotel. The restaurant served fantastic olives and bread for an appetizer, which tempered our hunger while our food was being cooked. Over an hour later, everyone was either impatiently squirming in their seats or falling asleep in their soup as we anticipated being served our entrees. Though I am thoroughly convinced that no pizza should have corn, green beans and carrots on it, it still tasted fairly decent because I was very hungry.

12063695_10207874678607754_931178935900363269_n

Passing by the hills of Tetouan.

The next morning was woke up very early and had breakfast at the cafe in our hotel. I ordered a coffee and was pleased when it was made fresh in a fancy espresso machine and was incredibly strong. After gorging ourselves on msemen bread and cheese triangles (everyone should try this), we hopped back on the bus to drive just a few miles to the border of Ceuta, one of two Spanish enclaves in Morocco. We completed our immigration forms and passed them, along with our passports, to our academic director who was tasked with giving all of them to the customs agents while we sat on the sidewalk and waited for them to be processed. Close to an hour later, equipped with a new stamp in our visa pages, we passed quickly over the border into Ceuta and were officially in Spain. We had a quick bus tour during which we visited the farthest northeast part of the enclave’s peninsula and took pictures of the Strait of Gibraltar and the southern coastline of mainland Spain.

12189983_10207874685807934_5705345173489385425_n

Taken right after passing over the border in Ceuta, Spain.

11222569_10207874688087991_5186671939232671127_n

Looking at the city of M’Diq, Morocco from Ceuta, Spain.

12049226_10207874727448975_2397351758917899585_n

The view of the Strait of Gibraltar from the hills of Ceuta.

12191760_10207874695128167_5968670020078065009_n

The Ceuta peninsula on the left and the Strait of Gibraltar on the right.

12046568_10207874702528352_6030017608356726148_n

12047153_10207874722008839_2887813367866302926_n

A temple dedicated to a saint on op of the tallest hill in Ceuta.

After our tour we were given a few free hours in the city. My friends and I had lunch and drinks at a tapas bar before spending some time shopping. I bought a few shirts and a new sweater at a Spanish clothing store before picking some artisan chocolate from Madrid. On the way out of Ceuta we repeated the border crossing process and were issued new Moroccan tourist visas.

12046925_10207874754369648_5382765385436126634_n

The palm lined sidewalks of Spain.

12182950_10207874745609429_6061512060143149887_o

My friend Helen outside some sort of an important building in Central Ceuta.

12049125_10207874730129042_831282771824329109_n

Salmon smothered in the Spanish equivalent of BBQ sauce.

12187802_10207874734809159_231805760319322321_n

Cinnamon amaretto shots and raspberry cream puffs for dessert at a tapas bar in Ceuta.

12191722_10207874737889236_8404936365069334671_n

These were sooo delicious!

Once we left the Spanish enclave we got back on our tour bus and drove to Chefchaouen, arriving around six. We were given about an hour of free time before dinner, during which my friends and I did a brief preliminary exploration of the medina in preparation for the next morning. Dinner at a local restaurant was, thankfully, significantly shorter than the night before. The best part of the meal was indubitably the olive oil and bread before the entree and the fruit salad for dessert. After dinner my friends and I cuddled up in warm blankets and watched The Arab Voice before going to sleep.

On the road to Chefchaouen. 

12189642_10207874758289746_1786817551690907472_n 12193688_10207874762089841_1565382517869867207_n

A brief exploration of Chefchauen before dinner. 

12185446_10207874764969913_1590429794840347548_o 12182621_10207874769130017_6987677347911284019_o

The next morning I woke up early and watched the sunrise over the mountains before going downstairs to have breakfast in the hotel lobby. All of the food was fantastic, and we all enjoyed the bottomless buffet before departing to go exploring. My friends and I spent our three hours of free time wandering around the medina, taking pictures and shopping. Owing to the early hour, only a few of the shops were actually open, which did not hamper our ability to search for souvenirs, and in fact made for a pleasantly quiet morning in the beautiful blue streets.  I purchased a large blue tapestry, as well as many soaps and lotions. At some point my friend Helen and I split off from the group and we continued up and hill until we arrived at the highest point in the medina. We stopped to cool down and admire the hills before carefully made our way down the steep, winding streets back to our hotel. All of us grabbed a cookie on the way out of the lobby in preparation for yet another long bus ride to our next, and final, destination.

The fairy tale streets of Chefchauoen. 

12186300_10207874845091916_7612475680808275992_o 12194894_10207874857892236_7338995022315066666_o 12052541_10207874831411574_6055831028139422663_o 12185411_10207874900133292_1710769432804068290_o 12186791_10207874898213244_9001192766897404429_o 12186670_10207874893893136_6191650133328061353_o 12182483_10207874810851060_6330327850758185462_o 12185285_10207874797890736_2904701885256158993_o 12045709_10207874779930287_4905984138313417464_o 12191147_10207874882132842_7545646588459899771_o 12184018_10207874873612629_4859293985257789919_o

12193552_10207874801370823_295888555183394865_n 12065639_10207874820851310_7327652792404253010_n

My friends and I enjoyed posing in archways around the medina. 

12184317_10207874851332072_7271180423362500630_o 12185392_10207874852892111_7788133239090587977_o

The winners of the “Coolest Door Contest”. 

12046823_10207874859292271_2872763071194517174_n 12185372_10207874861332322_4015449539193947886_o

12122873_10207874847611979_8231525870595796669_n

For as beautiful as this writing is, it actually just informs people not to throw trash on the streets.

12038484_10207874933574128_2280087057616790166_n

The magical soap shop, which sold soaps and lotions made with argon oil, incense and spices.

12045409_10207874827611479_6093497128963010925_o

Ellen made a new friend.

My favorite alley in the medina. 

12195011_10207874925013914_4401849656164036734_o 12052432_10207874927373973_8447576171597758268_o

12063555_10207874841331822_2776759425174221277_n

A Helen-sized door!

12063479_10207874904533402_3613615681218802566_n

In case it wasn’t obvious, Chefchauoen is built into a mountain.

12063569_10207874912693606_4329443327546408669_n

The view from behind the Kasbah wall, the highest point of the medina.

12065631_10207874920493801_4868451142073634841_n

Feeling accomplished (and sweaty) after walking to the top of the medina.

12191800_10207874819171268_8248096822268231810_n

My friend Katherine wandering into an alley in the medina.

12189237_10207874890533052_6884636444780198889_o

A woman in red against the walls of blue.

12063861_10207874876132692_7960331100745221331_n

Wandering the winding streets of the medina.

11049603_10207874870492551_172772371318787830_n

I would have loved to stay in this hotel.

12063574_10207874775050165_5373192872444837068_n

Some beautiful buildings in the medina.

12047017_10207874867732482_6209293614975927843_n

The main square of the medina.

Two hours later we arrived in the medina of Ouarzan and carefully drove our bus through the narrow streets until we reached the house of a close friend of our academic directors. We had a glorious feast in the main salon, consisting of bread and olive oil, bowls of olives, plates of beets, potatoes, and carrots, potato soup as an appetizer, an entree of chicken and olives, and piles of oranges for dessert. After we ate we were given a brief lecture on the saint who founded the town we were in, and were shown around a developing museum based on the saint’s life. We also were able to view the property’s olive press, only to be disappointed that the extra virgin olive oil produced there was not for sale. The owner of the home served us Moroccan mint tea and allowed us to pick oranges from his trees before we left, departing happily with arms full of fresh citrus. My friends and I read, listened to music, and discussed our plans for the rest of the program on our final bus ride of the semester, as the sun sunk below the horizon and cast warm light across the land for as long as the eye could see.

Finally on the road home.

12190850_10207874940614304_3712470739660049777_n 12065775_10207874943494376_3028311757680443555_n 12193759_10207874947534477_8816080340081102486_n 12191569_10207874944774408_5468435263602304643_n 11205559_10207874944374398_6648520471464867244_n 11010993_10207874945814434_7801149261349686665_n

Lunch in Ouarzan. 

12191061_10207874950934562_2868691265895286257_n 12049586_10207874953414624_7544419361104661579_n

Pictures of the hills and city of Ouarzan. 

12189799_10207874963134867_8730817693893624316_n

A panorama of Ouarzan from the terrace of the house at which we ate lunch.

12105927_10207874957814734_5005789561364615081_n 19921_10207874960254795_9109814848441930488_n 12193654_10207874956334697_6959226353563794382_n

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: