Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Today was my first great day. Last night I spent my first night in my new apartment and had plans to stick around the apartment for most of the day, cleaning and making it feel like it is finally mine. It actually wasn’t that dirty, but I just wanted to do some extra scrubbing that will help me know that when things get dirty, it’s my dirt and not that of the previous renters. The day started off at 4:30am with the call to prayer. Well, that’s not how my day started but it’s how the day for many in my neighborhood started off. I was able to sleep a few more hours after hearing the sunrise call for prayer. I’ll be excited for the morning that I don’t wake up to the five minutes of wailing at the break of dawn. That will mean that I have finally gotten used to living in the Kasbah. At 9am I headed to the Oudayas Surf Club down the street to have my first 1.5 hr lesson of the 10-lesson beginner package I bought. It’s a great surf club. They have lockers, showers, a café that looks onto the ocean, insurance that covers hospital trips, and even a little mosque. The mosque is my favorite part because every other aspect of the club seems like it could be in any coastal surf spot in the Americas except for the room with carpets used for prayer.
My lesson was great. Hussein, the English-speaking director, gave me the lesson today. I ended up getting a private, which was fantastic for my surfing but also very exhausting. I think he was pleased to see that I could stand up right away and I was quite happy with myself too, but that meant that right away I had to work on fixing my weight and how I place feet on the board. As is the case with learning any new sport, there were a million things I had to remember to do all at the same time. It was overwhelming but also a great feeling. Hussein happens to be a black belt in taekwondo, so we had a lot to talk about. He grew up in the Kasbah where I live, and told me that he saw me the other day and that his parents’ house is right next door to mine.
Shortly after the lesson I went to a big super center market to get cleaning supplies and general things for my apartment. The taxi ride there was quite interesting. After walking about half a mile, I finally got a taxi. Here in Rabat, it is common to get in a taxi that already has people. If you’re going the same way, it works out for the passengers and the driver gets more money. This trip was a little bit more confusing since I opted to stay in the cab while he dropped off a couple in a direction that was different than where I was going. I did this simply because I wasn’t going to get a cab any other way. So, I only ended up paying the price for what the distance would have been had we not taken the detour to drop off the other passengers.
During the course of my afternoon of cleaning, I went up to see, Haja, my landlord/host grandmother a few times. She invited me to dinner and told me that she wanted me to meet her American host student later. So, I met Angelo from Pittsburgh over a great dinner of chicken and potatoes cooked by Haja. We also had fresh Moroccan bread, a great salad, and grapes and melon. It was fantastic since I really didn’t get a chance to eat all day. Haja just seems to be a really nice woman who likes to have people around since she lives alone. Part of Angelo’s rent includes meals so really, it doesn’t make a difference whether I join in on the occasional meal or not. I’m very excited about the prospects.
After dinner, Angelo and I met up with some of his Moroccan friends to watch a Champions League Game. Barcelona won as was expected. Afterwards we went to one of his friend’s houses and hung out for a bit.
As I get ready for bed I feel grateful for my awesome apartment. The call for prayer at the break of dawn will take some getting used to, but who knows when I’ll get to experience living the Kasbah again? Plus, if I ever get home really late from a party or club and am afraid to make the walk alone, I just have to wait until 4:30 and they’ll be lots of people out heading to the mosque.