Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joyeux Noel!

Merry Christmas to everyone from Paris! I hope this year has brought many glorious events. As for me, I couldn't have asked for a better year. Its weird not being home for Christmas, and this probably won't become a habit, but seeing the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower was a nice consolation. So Merry Christmas to all, and if you can find time in your prayers for my christmas wish to make her flight, it would be greatly appreciated! Joyeux Noel et bonne annĂ©e!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eye-ed Moo-bar-ack sigh-eed

My semester abroad came to end a week early because of a religious holiday called the Eid (pronounced eye-ed). Though my business teacher swore that the Islamic calendar didn’t affect education or economics in the Arab world (HA!), all schools, as well as the majority of local businesses, were closed for about a week for the Eid celebration (give or take some days depending on the institution). So what does this glorious school ending holiday entail? Well the Eid is in remembrance for the time when Abraham was so faithful to God that he was willing to sacrifice his only son at God’s command. According to the Old Testament, God stopped Abraham at the last minute, and praised him for his faithfulness, and then had him sacrifice a sheep instead. The Quranic version varies a little, but regardless, the celebration is a symbol for this act. So what does a festival entail that glorifies an ancient sacrifice? Well a modern day sacrifice of course! Each year, every family must buy a sheep, slaughter it, skin it, and then cook it. My family was no different, so my final week in Rabat was spent participating in the Eid. These pictures aren’t for the faint of heart, so be warned!

Though I’m a bit torn on whether this event was a barbaric display of questionable lingering tradition, the holiday, over all, was magnificent. Families spent the day together cooking and preparing, laughing and indulging, and finally, digesting and relaxing. It was kind of like Thanksgiving, but instead of one day of gorging and sleeping, the gluttony lasted for a week! Though this semester has been a difficult one, being part of this festival was a beautiful way to end my time abroad. I got to spend quality time with my host family, as well as share an Eid meal with all my friends and teachers from school. Though some of the situations seem bizarre, being able to spend Ramadan and Eid in the Arab world opened my eyes to the majesty of the religion. These holidays are such amazing spectacles, and not only do they portray a divine faith, but also how truly linked and communal the Arab world is. I'm very thankful to have been a part of both, and I hope I can open some eyes about what Islam really is, regardless of what the media portrays.

Friday, December 12, 2008

lessons learned

So like every great adventure, I came to Morocco in hopes of finding answers. As my trip comes to an end, and I have a looming train waiting for me tonight at 2 in the AM, I'm pretty sad to be leaving Rabat...but on the bright side, I still have two weeks of solo traveling, then a much anticipated 12 days with Caroline in Italy. While I'm still trying to figure out what this trip means to me, and look back on all the experiences I've had, I do know one thing for certain. I wrote a blog at the beginning of the trip, talking about Zen, and if I would rather go through life feeling only content, or if I would rather feel magnificent highs met by pain-staking lows, and all the feelings in between. I know full well now that I would prefer the latter. Though sometimes its hard, I'd rather feel the lows of missing a place, or saying good bye, because I know i've felt the highs of the days spent there. I would rather feel lost without someone, then never have felt whole. I would rather feel the pain of scrapping my knees as I fall, then never having felt the exhilaration of the jump. I would rather feel the entire spectrum of emotions, then feel nothing at all. Thats one lesson I'll take to the grave.

But until I figure out the other lessons, here is a list of things I'll miss in Morocco as well as what I've really come to appreciate about America.

  • haggling prices
  • having no rules
  • being able to plead ignorance because i don't speak the language
  • living by the ocean
  • Kasbah's, Medinas, fancy tiles and doors
  • relying on a foreign language
  • traveling every weekend
  • using "Enshallah" like its my job
  • my host family
  • stray cats 
  • Marrakech night clubs
  • Broing Out
  • Walking forty-five minutes to school
  • Hearing the call to prayer five times a day
  • long lunches
  • Ramadan (well the nights during Ramadan)
  • the desert
  • Islam
  • Islamic Holidays
  • Essaouira 
  • Western Sahara
  • Bocce ball
  • silly nick names
  • Bab al-heb after the sun set
  • sun sets in general
  • train rides
  • under $100 flights to Europe
  • having a new roommate every weekend in my host house
  • packages from loved ones
  • watching nuggs highlights instead of paying attention in class
  • Bramadan, Broctobro, Brovember
  • cous-cous
  • dirham prices
  • cheap wine
  • sweets
  • bread and cheese
  • best chwarma
  • wearing the same clothes over and over
  • checking the exchange rate at the bank
  • not relying on the internet, but appreciating it
  • to be continued...
  • toilet paper and soap in every bathroom
  • being able to communicate what I'm thinking
  • public transportation thats reliable (Morocco makes the 204 look good)
  • Broing out with my ex-roomies
  • a plethora of choices to eat at
  • having a campus
  • the mountains
  • a fixed schedule
  • insulated buildings
  • Qdoba
  • trivia night
  • CEB
  • Exercising
  • Colorado
  • Wifi everywhere
  • mustang sally the red rocket
  • my takamine
  • an extensive network of people
  • illegal petes
  • quesadillas
  • warm showers
  • my aging bed
  • my parents paying for my cell phone (thanks mom and dad!)
  • having a job
  • being in (or near) the same time zone as people I care about
  • above all else, Friends, families, and loved ones
Though it had its highs and lows, and there were times were I couldn't wait for it to end, I'll never regret my semester abroad, or my choice to come to Morocco.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Moroccon Sunsets

The Moroccan sunset is like a long goodbye with a lover. It drags on for an eternity, but feels like no time has past. As the sun sits in the sky, and the hour of departure approaches, the anticipation is immense, but there are no signs of leaving. The goodbye is pushed away. As if trying to avoid parting, the sun retains its bright yellow color and grand size, until the second before its bottom reaches the horizon. The moment finally arrives, and the passion is overwhelming. The sky tries to remain true to its color, fighting the growing darkness, and with each inch the sun drops, its light pink glow embraces the blue sky. As the sun drops quicker, the pink remains entwined in the blue, like locked fingers not willing to release. As the last bit of burning orange falls below the eye’s sight, the deepening pink and light blue stay grasped in one another, trying to fight the darkness, which forces their departure. As time refuses to quit, and the sun has become but a memory, the darkness begins to over take the sky, but the deepening pink remains. Even as the light blue finally disappears, and the first stars begin to shine, the pink lingers in protest, refusing to let go, denying the inevitable. But finally, as the weight of the world sets in, the pink submits to the night, slowly fading away, accepting that fate which she has been bestowed.