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O Fim duma Viagem

Can't Get Lost if I Don't Know Where to Go

MOROCCO | Monday, 16 June 2014 | Views [316]

I'd figured that my host father had simply been one day off in terms of when he needed to pick us up. But the next day, he was waiting for Erika and I. He motioned for us to go ahead, and followed us at some distance, watching.

 At times I'd check back to see if he was still t here. He was, and he'd motion a direction. Or he'd pass us because we were waiting for a break in the cars, and would gesture to the right to show that's where we needed to be going. It wasn't all that useful, and I'm pretty sure we could have made it to the center by ourselves. I wanted to verify if that was the case.

 Ideally, I wanted our first time on our own to be heading back from the center to our houses. Classes had a far more rigid start time, and our host families didn't. But when we reached the tram line where we'd met up with my father yesterday, he told us to meet him there again this afternoon, and after verifying that we understood, left. So we weren't going to get the chance of going all the way back alone, at least not yet.

 During the literature class, the teacher handed out sections of the next we'd read before, and we were supposed to read our sections aloud and offer a commentary. For the literature class, I sit where Tuesday in the politics class sits, but when the instructor was handing out the sheets, he was standing in the back of the classroom. So I got the section labeled “six.” We only got through three of the sections. (Natasha doesn't take that class, but Nathan was assigned two parts [4 and 5, neither of which he had to present that day.])

 At the end of class, our teacher let us out, concluding by saying “I've been told by the director that I need to let students out on time. A lot of people from the spring semester took a survey and said I had no respect to time. It's not that I don't respect it, I just don't pay attention to.” But because of the spring semester students, he now has to. Personally, I want to thank anyone who took that class, because I value my lunch time.

 Lunch was similar to the day before, only I got a rice and fish dish instead of vegetables, no yogurt or cake, and an apple in addition to a banana, which was good because the banana was so overripe it had smushed in the walk over. I opened my bag for lunch and immediately threw it out.

 The apple looked like your typical pale yellow-green apple from the United States. It had the same non-crunchy texture, but it was three-to-four times as sweet. Not quite sure how they managed that one.

 During lunch, we decided that we should go out together that evening.

In the politics class, the professor asked how we'd found the reading last night. Everyone answered “better than the night before,” even though we'd expressed the private sentiments that both were pretty bad. He responded that he thought the last two nights were the hardest readings of the course, as he'd wanted to give us a linguistic shock. He made a shocking motion with his hands. “Ahh!”

 A bit into the course, someone from the IES office in Chicago came to observe. He didn't seem to know French, and I found out later that he was more in charge of safety and security, not academics, so I'm not quite sure what he was hoping to learn. But they came, and observed for a bit.

 They left as we were taking our break. The director of the Rabat program (who had come with the IES Chicago person) reminded us that there was coffee in the kitchen if we wanted it.

 "There's coffee?” The politics professor asked, and immediately went out to get some.

 Between politics and Arabic, Nisrine came in to brief us about th e”Fez, Meknes, and Volubis” trip we were going to be taking. We would leave on Friday at 4:00, spend 15 minutes in a gas station in Meknes, and then go on to Fez. On Sunday, we would leave Fez and spend a little longer in Meknes. We would also go to a Hammam, or public bath.

She finished, and it was time for Arabic. I'd kind of forgotten to do the reading I was supposed to, but I made my way through the lesson. By the end we were constructing some sentences (“I am engaged, but I'm not yet married.” “I am from America, but I'm not American.” “I am engaged, but the ring is small”) which was neat.

After that, we solidified our plans for meeting. We agreed to meet outside the main gate of the Mdnina at 6:30, and then we separated to go to our homes.

We saw my father at the tram, and then he followed us back. I told Abir I would be going out in 20 minutes, and then too soon those 20 minutes were up and Erika was at the door waiting for me. So we set out again.

After walking for a bit, I realized that I had never seen any of these stores before. We must have taken a wrong turn. We kept walking, and at the end of the street, if we looked left we could see a gateway. I suggested that we take that and follow the wall until we reached our gateway, but Erika preferred we try and find our way back.

I caught a street name (Mohammed V) which I recognized as being the name of the street the hotel had been on the first day we'd stayed. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to get from there back to our house. We walked down a couple of blocks, realized we had no idea where we were going, tried a side street, realized that didn't help, backtracked, and finally reverted to Plan A.

I texted Natasha to let her know we were running late, and we walked down Mohammed V, took a left, and walked through a big gate. I knew roughly that we wanted to be farther to our left, so off we went.

I'd realized the Mdina was big. I didn't realize how big it was until that day. We walked. And walked. And walked. And right when we started getting to commercialized areas and I thought that maybe we were going to be there, the gate I was thinking of turned out to be a full-fledged two-way road. Apparently that's how cars get in there.


We stared out, looked in, and asked “what now?” There were tram lines that went parallel to the wall and gate that we wanted to get to, and there were also tram lines that went to the left, by the two-way street we hadn't been expecting. So after a short discussion, we went off to follow them.


 The next time something looked familiar, it's because we had in fact passed it. Several times on the way to school. Unfortunately, it was only the surroundings that looked familiar. We couldn't see anyone we recognized.


 We hung out for a bit, tried a few more texts and phone calls, and finally gave up and headed back. Even with all of the similar-looking gates we'd passed, we'd never really thought that different people might have a different conception of “main gate.” We knew roughly that our houses were close together, and the gate that Erika and I were referring to was on a relatively straight path to IES, so it seemed reasonable to believe everyone else was talking about the same gate. (We did walk around to adjacent ones to check, but they were far away.)


 The other group waited for us for a bit (I got a text message from Nathan that I didn't see until I was going to sleep, at which point I assumed it was too late to respond to it) and then went to the beach. It would have been nice to have gone with them, but would have been even nicer to have just met up with them. We have to come up with a better meeting point.


 On the plus side, I got a nice self-guided tour of the outside of the Mdnina, and saw Mohammed 5 Street. Later that evening, Abir, Saida, and I would go shopping there, and I would get a better idea of the mistake we made and (hopefully) how to avoid making it in the future. (We took a right when we should have taken a left.)


 Learning experiences. If nothing else, I've learned how the cars get into Mdnina.


Tags: food, lost, mdina, school

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