Larry in Morocco

Larry is a junior majoring in political science and history, with a minor in Arabic, in Dedman College. A recipient of a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, he is studying with SMU-in-Morocco during summer 2011 as part of an intensive five-week course dedicated to intermediate-level Arabic. He is staying in the city of Meknes and plans to take excursions to Tangiers and Spain.

A few hang-ups

All right, we made it through week two, but we did have some hang-ups. Bryce got sick going into the first weekend in Morocco, then our beloved teacher fell ill as well, with Kevin to follow.

We had a short class Friday because of Liljana being under the weather. We made it through our first exam, and overall everybody did well, I think.  Bravo on Kevin for scoring the highest in the class.

After week two I think that we are officially back on the horse as far as Arabic is concerned.  Wednesday we took a scenic tour around Meknes via horse-drawn carriage.  Very nice.  We then ended the week going to Volubilis and the city of Moulay Idriss.  So much history and such beautiful scenery.

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Touring Fez

Well we got through the week, boys and girls. Had a short class Friday and finished our first lesson. So what does that mean? It means new lessons and lots of homework, which includes new vocabulary.

WHAT?! That’s right, words that will take me forever to remember:) Actually not too bad – I got cracking on the homework right away.

That also means we have a test coming up, in Arabic. First one, eehhh. I hope I do well.

010.jpg So what did we do this weekend? Our first excursion was to the city of Fez. Wow, I love Fez.

Right: The old quarter of Fez. When I say old, I mean centuries old.

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Left: Our tour guide. Didn’t I say I love this guy? Awesome dude.

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Right: This is the musallah where they hold their Eid or holiday celebrations.

 


0201.jpgLeft: This fort was built in the 10th century and has been restored many times.

I will give a brief rundown of what the tour guide gave us, I love that guy. He was awesome really. Fez is literally the city of art, and you will see why with the pictures. But short history.

Berbers are the indigenious people to Morocco. There are approximately 280 tribes of Berbers in West North Africa. Islam came with the Arabs in the year 808. Islam today is the official state religion of Morocco, where the King has taken it on himself to be the commander of the faithful.

0091.jpg The Arabic in Morocco is a dialect that is influenced by French and Spanish as well. Which is pretty typical in most of North Africa, which would include Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia.

The mountains that run through North Africa are the Atlas Mountains. The city that is seen in the distance there is the Jewish quarter of Fez.

By the way, the Moroccans are very proud of the Jewish people in Morocco and talk about them fondly. The reason for such a large Jewish population in Morocco is because of the Spanish Inquistion of 1492, where they fled Spain for their lives because the Christians were persecuting them. The Jews fled to Muslim countries, which also included Tunisia and Egypt, because the Muslims were more tolerant of other faiths than the Christians. The Jews and Muslims have coexisted in North Africa peacefully for centuries.

004.jpgRight: These are the doors of the King’s Palace when he comes to Fez. The capital of Morocco is Rabat, where he and his family reside. Fez is one of the royal cities, which also includes Meknes, where we are staying.

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Left: The is our super nice professor, Liljana Elverskog. I love this person, too.

026.jpg Right: This is where they make pottery and mosaic tables, fountains, you name it. Mind you, everything is made by hand.


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Right: Leading into the market.

 

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Morocco: We made it – finally

All right, here is the lowdown. Arrived at D/FW and everything was on time. I met up with my professor and Jessica. We waited patiently for our plane to board when we get the announcement that somebody left their bag unattended and the infinite wisdom of the powers-to-be shut the terminal down. YEEPY for us. We were allowed to board the plane but had to wait for the 50 passengers stuck at security who were supposed to board our plane.

Finally we are pushed off, the engines are started and we taxi to the runway in preparation for takeoff. “Hello, this is your captain speaking, but we have just been notified by dispatch that Chicago is experiencing extreme weather conditions and we will be held here until cleared.” WHAT!!?? We are stuck on the tarmac for 45 to 50 minutes until finally we get the ok to go.

Pretty much an uneventful flight, except for a passenger snoring like a lumberjack. We finally land at Chicago O’Hare at 6:30 p.m. We get off the airplane and run for the terminal to find out that our connecting flight had left us (out of breath panting with head hanging low). We then wait in customer service for about 3 hours to get rebooked to fly out of Chicago the next morning. Montreal then to Casablanca. Intercontinental Hotel, that place was off the hook, no doubt. After a short sleep we are back to the airport waiting on our flight.

FINALLY!!

We finally made it. Got on a full loaded plane to Montreal with screaming kids. 7 1/2 hours later we made it to Mohammed V Airport at 7 this morning. Hopped on the train to Casablanca for a very brief lunch and coffee. Continued to Meknes after that, and I was able to take a shower at the hotel we are staying at. The drama doesn’t end there – our bags did not make it and I am wearing the same clothes since Friday. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

020.jpg Day One

The masjids in Morocco are no doubt beautiful. Something must be said about waking up at 3:30 in the morning for fajr prayer (salat). I was anticipating the muezzin as he called the faithful to prayer. Subhan’Allah (How perfect is God) there is nothing like it.

Did some light shopping as my clothes, which have remained on my body for 4 days, are taking on a life of their own.

Classes start this afternoon.

First day of class was a drag because they put us in a different classroom in a different part of town. I thought Dallas Hall was confining. Really a poor rendition of an American classroom. We need serious review as we were trying to remember vocabulary. Got lost in ???? (the market) – pretty cool. Went to the language center and enjoyed Cos-cos (local dish). Wrapping it up and calling it a night.

Day Two

Our baggage arrived in Fez and it is in our possession. It is the greatest feeling in the world to be able to unpack and change clothes.

009.jpg We started class immediately returning from Fez. I think we all felt a little more confident today as we continue with our review. … Nice clean clothes, huh …. oh sorry, I am still a little excited over the fact that I have my stuff here. Started our new lesson with new vocabulary and of course HOMEWORK or what we call ????. Had to interview a Moroccan native as part of the assignment. Really ????????

We all went, minus Liljana, on a small excursion to find something to eat in what is called neulle neville. A French restaurant somewhere downtown. Good food, actually, but the staff there didn’t speak a lick of Arabic or English. But thankfully we had our trusty sidekick Lee, another student, who knew how to speak that snobbish jibberish called French.

The food was good. Back to the hotel we went to do that is right ???? (wajib). Well, some of it anyways.

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