Kindness of Strangers- This has truly been a reoccurring theme since I’ve stepped off the plane in
When I arrived at the airport in
When the train stopped, my Belgian friend grabbed my arm and pulled me through the crowed once again. When we were about to part ways she asked me where my hotel was, and I showed her my receipt form the Internet. Apparently it was far, and so we went on a twenty minute journey looking for a cheap taxi, or one who would actually use the counter instead of give us a foreigner’s price. When we finally found someone, I hoisted our bags on top of the cab and we were off. My hotel wasn’t far from the station, and as we pulled to the side of the street to hop out, I reached for my wallet and she hit my hand. I pleaded for her to let me pay, but she just smiled, pointed to her eye and the hotel, and waited for me to go. She gave me her number, and I’m truly sad that the maids through it out, because this act of kindness has set such a wonderful precedent for my trip. If I ever see her again, I’ll make sure to pay for a lovely meal, and I’m sure karma will repay her in full.
I spent the night wondering around the Annciene Medina, and looking at the massive Hassan II mosque. I felt safe here, and thought about beautiful Casablana was at night with lights shining on the mosque and market. I was already in awe, and I had no idea of what kindness was to come the next day.
8/13- It’s not easy to paint a grand picture on a small canvas, but I’ll do my best. The last few days have been a whirlwind of sights and sounds, as well as revelations and mini-epiphanies, the biggest one being how my recent frustration came from having these epiphanies as well as a language barrier stopping me from sharing them. But things have been great, and as I sit in the master bedroom of a guesthouse in Essaouira, I must say life is good.
My first few days were spent in
The next few days in
Aida is both Moroccan and French, and lives in
One thing that was really interesting was the Moroccan choice hang out. People would stay up until two or three in the morning eating gourmet gelato at a place called G-ice. We went there two nights in a row, and both nights struggled to find a seat at
My last night, before staying up way to late for having to catch an early bus, before I met up with Aida and Jasmine, I stopped to have a coke with a few older guys at a café right by my hotel. There were two Rashids, a Robert, a Jalied, and a Kaled. Kaled was the oldest, and spoke English very well, and Jalied was the youngest, and had dreds from his head, all the way down his long boney back. Robert was my favorite, and although we could barely speak to one another (due to my lack of French) he talked to me for three days before I actually sat down with him, always very enthusiastically, and very inviting. The guys bought me a coke (which I thought was incredibly generous) and we spoke of things like politics, music, and school. They smoked cigarettes and drank tea while I attempted to explain what I was doing in
What has amazed me about
I left Agadir feeling good, only to feel almost blissful when I arrived in Essaouria. It is exactly what I have been looking for. It’s a small village on the beach, with almost all traditional architecture and glorious scenery. My guesthouse is in the traditional part of town, far from the touristy hotels, and right next to a secluded beach. I spent my day traversing the labyrinth of the old medina, which was built in the abandoned Souq (fort). There are twists and turns, dark alleys, and large streets. I love the sounds and smells that come from these markets. They are so strong, yet very subtle. What I imagine is that aroma hand you see in cartoons that circles you and touches your noise, only to have you float off the ground to the scents origin.
After my walk, I made it to the beach in time to price tomorrow’s windsurfing adventure, and catch a glimpse at some of the riders. Its incredible how high both the kite and windsurfers get. I can’t wait to try. Hopefully the lone four scares on my face already are all that will come this summer.
I returned to the souq after the beach, and walked to the viewing area on top. It has restored cannons, as well as friendly pastry sales men who offers special cookies that make you strong (…or high). As the sun began to set, I found a lone liquor store, bought a single
I had a great time with them, and the beach was so beautiful, I think I’ve found a new nightly ritual (except with wine, because Moroccan beer has yet to satisfy me). So far, my checklist is coming along pretty well for Essaouira. I can already mark of the sunset on the secluded beach with bums, now all I need to do is windsurf, eat shark, get a message at the newly renovated solar powered hammam, and ride a camel. Life is rough.
The take home message thus far is when in
Time for me to return to the life’s giant classroom. A tout á l’heure!
* somewhere in here I wrote souq for a fort instead of Kasbah. We actually rock Kasbahs not souqs (markets)
8/14- it was nice not sleeping on the ground for a night, but unfortunately I woke up sick. I think the mix of jet lag, sleepless nights, and the bus rides all finally caught up with me. But today was windsurf day, or at least I thought it was, so I got up anyway. I caught a quick breakfast before I went, and it turns out the shop keeper used to live in
Due to the lack of wind, I decided it was a regular surfing day. I got my board, and my wetsuit, and hit the beach. Unfortunately when I’m sick, I get a bad case of the hots and colds. The water was bearable, but since I was sick, I would get really cold really quick. I stayed in the water for about an hour and fifteen minutes, caught a few waves, then laid in the sand for about an hour to try and get my body temperature back up. It was probably 80 outside, but with a strong wind, and my teeth were chattering. This led to me meeting some friends though, and the lack of string on my wetsuit made me meet more friends by asking random people to zip and up zip me. I surfed for another 45 minutes, and then headed in. My cold was getting the best of me, and I needed to rest. I ate lunch on the walk back and washed it down with two delicious French pastries. If I come back a few pounds heavier, this would be the reason.
I laid in bed for a long time, and my cold seemed to get worse, but I finally forced myself up so I could go to the internet, then hopefully the hammam for a steam shower to cleanse my system. This was a very good decision.
I checked my mail and saw that I got an email from CIEE. It had all the last minute information, as well as a list of people on the program and where they are from. It was interesting to see the schools, and it got me really excited for my trip. It also made me so happy that I forgot about my cold, and I had a new hop in my step.
The hammam was the next stop. I was greeted by two large men who spoke a little English, and I was talked into not only using the Hammam, but also getting a scrub down. Basically, a hammam is a large single sex steam room with a shower, and the option of personal scrub downs, and if you’re a member, a massage. The room was in the basement of a hotel, and had blue and white tile. There were three rooms, one for changing, one for cold water, and one for the scrub down. I had no idea what I was in for, but what I got was a man pouring bucks of hot water on me, then an herb-laden scrub down, and a cold shower in a hot room. The man who gave me the scrub down was named Hassan. We talked for awhile, and as I was leaving, he finished work and offered for me to go out with him and his friends. We first went to his house, where he offered me tea, then food, then a room for the night, then…..O your disgusting get your mind out of the gutter, he only offered me a trip to the café sisha with him and his friends.
We met up with two guys, whose names I don’t want to butcher, and then three girls. One of the guys spoke pretty good English, and with him I had my first glimpse of infidelity in
What was difficult this evening was the language barrier, because the group started to talk about Descartes and then the former king Hassan II, and it just sounded like it was a very interesting conversation. I guess just another reason to really focus on learning French and Arabic.
I had to leave a it earlier then the rest to make it back to my guest house before one. The family locked the door, and unfortunately my key hasn’t been working two well. I found a cab, and prayed the whole way home for my key to work for the first time, and luckily fate was on my side. I didn’t want to have to knock and wake up the family, so I was very happy for the initial success of my key.
Enshallah, windsurfing lessons tomorrow.