Monday, October 5, 2009

Orientation, Night Out, and Sardines

Monday, October 5, 2009

Today was supposed to be my first day of teaching but Kenn informed me that I won’t be having classes on Mondays. So, he’s going to give me a call tomorrow morning to let me know about my schedule. So much of the scheduling depends on the students who register last minute that it’s hard to know what we’ll be teaching until the morning of. I’m hoping I will have Mondays off this term because that will give me a real “weekend” which is perfect for traveling. I’ll work all day Saturday, and then have Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday morning off. It seems only fair to have this schedule as a newbie since I’ll be wanting to travel around as much as possible.

I had a really great weekend. I had both “foreigner” and “local” activities that helped keep a good balance. Friday morning I went running for the first time. On Thursday, my surfing instructor subtly hinted that I should keep in better shape when he said, “yeah, the coast here is a great place to go running.” So, I strapped on my running shoes and clipped my ipod to my pants, and headed out. Although I was running along the rocky coastline where presumably people often run, I did hear some honks and shouting from men passing by in cars. Listening to music definitely helped drown out the distractions and in the end the experience wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. I’m sure that wearing pants was a helpful factor.

Friday night I hung out with work friends. First we all had a drink at an apartment near the school. Four teachers are renting that place so I’m sure it will be a good place to start our nights out. A weird thing happened on the way, though. Apparently the 1990’s 4-door FIAT taxis here are only allowed to take 3 passengers despite the fact that the back seat is made for 3. There’s some strange Moroccan law that prohibits those taxis from taking 4. Yet, there are Mercedes Benz “grand taxis,” still only made to seat 4 passengers plus the driver, that are allowed to seat 6 passengers. So, Elaine, Matt, Agelo, and I had to take two separate taxis Friday night. After having a few drinks at the Agdal (the neighborhood where the school is located) apartment, we all went to a restaurant/bar in the medina (downtown). There was a West African band playing covers. The place was full of older Moroccans, young liberal Moroccans (I say liberal because they were drinking and because the women weren’t wearing the hijab), and foreigners wanting to get a drink at one of the few bars in the city. It was nice to hear live music and see such happy crowd, but I’m sure that hearing Hotel California and Bob Marley played every Friday night is going to get annoying very quickly.

On Saturday Kenn had an orientation meeting for all of the new teachers. It’s funny because of the nine new hires, all of them are from the Northeastern United States except for Laura (England), Susanna (Eureka), and me. Kenn, who’s a big gay Scottish man (how can you not love him) explained to us about the different levels, the paperwork, and what generally to expect. After our meeting, we all went to a nice Italian restaurant where we had a three-course meal with the country director and a few other office workers. Kenn seems to be a great guy and I’m happy to have him as my boss so far. Here’s why having Scottish boss is cool. The fall newsletter starts off, “Laddies and Lassies, it’s jolly good to be back together after many, many quiet weeks for [me].”

Sunday was a big day for me because Nahid and her boyfriend Yassine took me to a nearby beach where we went surfing and had a barbecue. They picked me up at 9 in front of my neighborhood and we went to Yassine’s house to pick up his bodyboard. I met his mom and brother who were in the house having breakfast. I joined in and had some wonderfully marinated black olives on the typical Moroccan bread called Hobz.

After buying the fresh sardines for the barbecue, we headed north to Plage des Nations. The waves were a lot bigger than what I was surfing for my two lessons, so I had a rough time. Nahid was so nice to lend me her long board but I just couldn’t manage to get up on it. So, I paddled a lot and pretty much watched the waves in awe. They weren’t even that big but I just don’t think I’m ready for a shorter long board and waves that come frequently. Hopefully I’ll get there soon because I don’t want Nahid and Yassine to stop inviting me. Although I didn’t improve on the surfing front, I definitely learned some crucial fish-eating skills. We barbecued sardines for lunch and ate them with our fingers on top of the long board. Nahid had to help me get the “meat” at first but after the third or fourth sardine I was pulling off the spine and leaving the meat in tact like the rest of the guys there.

Today I’ve been at Amideast for most of the morning. I was to come by at 11am to pick up my check for my flight and hotel. I just purchased a prepaid USB internet thingie and am excited to use later tonight at home. Plus, I got some speakers from a little office supply store since mine died from the change in voltage.

I’m going to head back to my apartment soon. I definitely need to start cooking and deal with the unfamiliar cookware in my place. I’m thinking tonight’s the night.

Things I like so far:
- the 1 dirham (13 cent) pastries at the entrance to the open-air market by my house
- being able to get on the bus and sit down before the person comes by to collect my money (I hated having to get my wallet out on the street in Mexico in order to pay upon entering)
- marinated black olives with fresh bread
- Fanta Lemon

Things I don’t like so far:
- having guys say things to me as they walk by
- not being able to speak the local language
- having too much free time because school hasn’t started
- the dirty yucky beach by my house (but still happy to have one at all)


  1. Post some pictures--you really live in the Kasbah? Having walked around in there I can't picture it all...or are those pretty streets with white and blue paint behind it part of it? I'm dying to see! And to visit!

  2. Hey Amanda,
    Yeah, I live in the Kasbah. It's pretty cool to come home and go up onto the terrace and have a view of the ocean and the whole city. I need to use the terrace more often before it starts getting cold. I have some pics on Facebook. I hope all is well.