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O Fim duma Viagem

Glance Back at Rabat

MOROCCO | Wednesday, 25 June 2014 | Views [293]

 Before the airport in Dakar, I had a pretty quiet Sunday. (I'd seen the schedule for Dakar. I was taking advantage of quietness when I could.)

I did go out to accompany Abir while she sold textbooks. Or tried to. She went down a street, asking anyone who had books for sale. (A lot of the books were just novels in French, but some were more textbookky grammars and such.)

"So, you're going to Africa then? Senegal?"

I nodded.

"I think it's hot here, but it's hotter in Africa."

It was interesting, but not all that surprising, to hear her refer to other countries like she wasn't in Africa right now. Nisrine would later confirm it at the airport when she mentioned that she was "finally going to Africa," because it didn't feel like she'd been there, despite having lived in Morocco nearly her whole life.

She found a place that was willing to buy her books. All 10 or so of them, for 16 dirham (2 dollars.) We moved on.

We turned back to the Medina, and went around there. Abir kept asking at places that sold cell phones, and they would suggest a direction. More often than not, they would point us back the direction we'd just been and add an extra step. Most of the time, there wasn't a bookstore.

Finally she found what she was looking for, or close enough. She showed him the books, then they negotiated animatedly for a bit, then we went back to the house to pick up more textbooks. Then back to the bookseller (it was a much faster route this time) and more negotiations. She left with most of the books she'd brought on the second trip.

During lunch (fish and lentils), I'm pretty sure my host mother told me to eat, because I wouldn't be able to eat in Senegal. I hoped that was more generic maternal concern than anything substantial. Same way Matt, when he'd been with us, had mentioned that the most common thing parents did was send their children food while they were studying abroad. She might have also said that I should eat, because I wouldn't be able to eat her food while I was in Senegal. My Darija isn't good enough to be able to tell the difference between the two, and the latter was certainly true.

In an event, she made sure to feed me tea before we left. I would miss it.

Then I made my way to Sidi Fata. Nisrine, Oussama, and the van were waiting, and Erika came at about the same time as me.

"Are you ready?" Oussama asked.

"It's going to be interesting," I responded. During the briefing, that's how he'd described pretty much every part of Senegal. I'd eventually asked him to define interesting. He hadn't really, and he also hadn't given a Firefly reference, which was probably for the best. ("Oh god oh god we're all going to die.")

"Good. Very good. I'm changing the adjective."

Other people showed up, and then we were ready to go.

Natasha started describing all of the gruesome diseases that one could really only catch in parts of Africa.

"Who invited you along?"

"I'm a biology major. Doing research into these kinds of things is what I do."

"That doesn't mean you need to share it with us!"

"Hey, I could be saving your life."

"By telling us all of the horrific ways we could die?"

"By giving you useful tips."

"Like what?"

"Malaria mosquitoes strike at night. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors and banana scent."

"Bananas?"

"Mmhmm. So don't eat a bunch of bananas. Which is really only relevant for me."

Having exhausted her supply of useful tips and our patience with deadly diseases, we turned to quiet contemplation or reading. And we drove to the Casablanca airport.

The Casablanca airport felt much bigger than the Rabat airport, which was nice. It was especially nice when I didn’t need to navigate through it, just follow Oussama while he went through, and sometimes explained things to airport officials.

 We did all of the things one does at airports. Waits in lines, hand over passport, wait in more lines, go to security, empty pockets. Most people made it through without any problems. Nisrine was pulled over because they could see scissors in her bag. She didn't have any scissors. Megan and I did.

I introduce you to the luckiest pair of scissors I've ever owned. They've been with me on dozen flights. The only time I've ever had a security officer acknowledge them was the flight out of Japan when someone removed it from the bag (to be honest, I'd forgotten I had it there) measured the blade, and gave it back to me.

It made it through the airport in Havana. Nail scissors did not. And now it made it through the Casablanca airport, showing up on Nisrine's screen instead.

Honestly, the fact that I still have these scissors destroys any faith I might have had in the security of airports I've been in.

It was around 10:00 when we got to our gate. Nathan walked around for a bit and determined that there wasn't any place that sold water. That soundedlike a challenge if I ever heard one.

I walked, looking in every single store that was still open. There were a lot of places that sold alcohol. Even more that sold perfume. Perfume made for good things to drink, right? Finally, at the very opposite side of the terminal, I found a restaurant that was still open. The one restaurant that was still open. After waiting around in that line, I paid for a water and left.

 The plane ride served dinner. I had two different thought-sequence reactions. The first was “what the hell? It's 11:40 at night. Oh, right, Morocco.” The second was “well, I didn't get dinner... but this isn't terribly good. I miss real Moroccan food.”

On the plus side, the flight attendant asked me everything in French. I'd earlier heard him asking people things in English, so that was nice. And I responded without making him switch to English, even if that did once require me to say “la meme pour moi, s'il vous plait,” because I didn't know how to pronounce Coca Cola with a French accent.

I also found myself paying more attention to the French than the English announcements. The English was so heavily accented it was actually easier to listen to the French. So my French is improving, which is good.

As we flew away, I tried to get myself as ready for Senegal as possible. I knew it would an “interesting” experience. But I mostly just wanted to still be in Morocco.

My real mother pointed out then when we got back from Senegal, Morocco would feel like home. It's kind of amazing what can happen in two weeks.

Tags: airplane, airport, diseases, mothers

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