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The Fourth of July*

MOROCCO | Monday, 7 July 2014 | Views [201]

 Cynthia's host mom had agreed to take as djellaba-shopping, so at 2:30 we all met and went out. We were led through the Mdina and past several shops that looked like they sold fine djellabas to the one particular one her host mom was looking for. Once we were there, it was obvious that the shop was barely big enough to fit the eight of us (six Americans + host mother and host sister) let alone give the room necessary to try on clothing. Cynthia and her host family went to stand outside and, after a little bit, Nathan and I followed them. 

We waited. And waited. Cynthia and her mother went back to the shop. We waited some more.

“They're sure taking a while,” I commented.

“With all due respect,” Nathan said, “they're women in a dress shop.”

Very true. Which only became truer when they finished making their purchases, and Cynthia's mother asked where we wanted to go next.

“Maybe to get babuches?” (the shoes.) And off we went. From there, we did general looking at (but I don't think actual buying) stores that sold keychins, wooden sculptures, and tassels. Yes. There was a store exclusively for tassels. Some of them were small enough they doubles as keychains, others were full-fledged curtain tassels

 Two things happened as we were out shopping. Cynthia's mom and sister decided that we were able to fend for ourselves and left us (I'm pretty sure she told Cynthia before she left) and a friend of mine from high school joined us. 

I'd seen from her Facebook that she was in Rabat for unrelated reasons at the same time that I was. (Intensive Arabic study for her, despite the fact that French was one of the classes that we shared in high school.) She also had the afternoon off, so I invited her along shopping, or aimless wondering, with us.

We did some more aimless wandering around the Mdina, then switched to aimful walking towards a bookstore near Hotel Balima, from our first night in Morocco. (Already that feels like it was so long ago. It was around a month, but it feels more like half a semester. I guess midterms do that to you.) This bookstore was huge, and had a lot of books, though they seemed to be kind of expensive. (I saw La Peste for 70 dirhams. In the bookstore on the way back from the center, you can buy it for 35.)

Then we wandered back to the Mdina and struggled to figure out plans for the night. Some people wanted to do something Fourth of July-ish (apparently buying traditional Moroccan garments doesn't count as “American” enough) and concluded that, although our host families would probably be fine packing us “iftar on the beach”, we'd rather eat it with our family. So we agreed to meet up at the cafe around 9:00 when it would hopefully be a little less creepily deserted.

I showed Collette around the areas we were talking about and gave her advice on what she could tell a taxi driver (I still didn't have many ideas for if she found someone else who didn't know where the Kasbah was) and then we went back to our host families for a few hours.

After iftar, we went to the cafe. Bear in mind this was the same cafe I ordered ginger juice at. On Wednesday I'd ordered a hot chocolate, but this time I was in the mood for juice, so, after considering for a bit, asking Cynthia what she'd thought of her pineapple juice, and considering for some more, I got peach juice. Nice, normal, juice, right?

I'll give it this: it was not as strange as the ginger. Whether or not it was better was a matter of opinion. I've been in Morocco for four weeks. I've indulged my sweet tooth a lot. I still don't find the syrup that canned peaches come in tempting for a drink. That's what my “peach juice” tasted like.

Nathan had ordered the same thing, and didn't seem to have any problems with it. “It's not too sweet for you?” I asked.


“Does it taste like peach syrup?”


“Well, at least it's not just that they like you better.” (I would later find out that they do, in fact, like Nathan better. But our drinks were the same, and he liked the remainder of mine as much as he'd liked his.)

While we were sitting there (it was a Friday night, so the cafe did not get as crowded as last time) the manager from Orlando came over to introduce his wife (from New York) and their son (presumably from Rabat.) She complimented the newly-purchased djellabas, which allegedly work as invisibility cloaks when it comes to guys. (Natasha: “I figure that the only reason guys are interested in me is because I look white. So if I wear a hijab or djellaba, they ignore me.” Me: “You don't just look white, you actually are.” Her: “I've been here so long. I feel like a real Moroccan.”)

As we were leaving, one of the waiters told us that we should come back every night. We laughed and considered it.

Outside, there was the set-up for a carnival. None of the rides were operating yet, but there were was bumper cars and merry-go-rounds and the spinning rotating rides that I don't know the name of. There were the mini cars that Natasha really wanted to ride despite being five times the age as their intended audience, and there were the spinning light things that you throw up in the air and tricked some people into believing they were fireworks. (We did not buy them just so we could trick ourselves into believing we'd been patriotic.)

It might not have been a traditional Fourth of July, but it was a lot of fun. Besides, none of us had that firm ideas about “this is what needs to happen on Fourth of July, because this is what I've done for the past 20 years!” I think the closest I've come to a traditional Fourth of July have been the years I spent celebrating with bagpipers. I've spent the last three Fourth of Julys out of the country. So I guess that's becoming my tradition.

* Full title: "The 4th of July as Celebrated by 7 Americans who have no Problems Being out of the Country for all of July and then Some," but that exceeds the allowed character count.

Tags: fourth of july, juice, marina bay, sweet

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