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O Fim duma Viagem

Ftur on the Beach

MOROCCO | Thursday, 10 July 2014 | Views [292]

Remember back to our very first night in Rabat? When we went to the restaurant and danced, and there were other Moroccans more or less our age, and we exchanged contact information? Well, we finally got around to finding a day that worked both parties.

They (through Nathan, because he was the one who had sent the e-mail) told us to meet them near the Casbah, and we would go from there to ftur with them. We were supposed to meet them at 6:50. I got Nathan and Erika to meet me at 6:45 at Sidi Fatah, just in case the creepy guy between my house and the Casbah was still there. The guy wasn't there, so it didn't matter that Nathan wanted me to make goat noises (Natasha's foolproof [if never tried] way to make guys go away) instead of saying “this is my wife. She's Russian and doesn't know any French.” Even if he had said that, though, it's not like the guy would have remembered the next time he saw me.

At the Casbah, we met up with Cynthia and Natasha and realized we had very little memory of what the Moroccans we were meeting looked like. Fortunately, one of them remembered us, and he came over to greet us. For a little bit, there was one girl and four guys, which was suspiciously close to match-making. Then more people of both genders showed up, so it felt less contrived.

We followed them down the same path we'd taken the Sunday after Dakar and onto the beach. At some point, we realized that there was no restaurant that we were going to, and they were in fact all carrying baskets of food. At which point we started whisper-hissing to Nathan about why he hadn't warned us, because we felt woefully unprepared.

Nathan: “I didn't know either!”
“You had the e-mail!”
“They just said that they were eating on the beach.”
“«Sur la plage» or «à la plage?» There's a difference.”
He thought for a little bit. “à la plage. Definitely à la plage;”

We would give Nathan grief about that for the rest of the night, though when I checked the e-mail the next day I deemed it sufficiently unclear to let him off the hook. They never mentioned that they were bringing food, let alone that we were expected to as well. And of course it was a Moroccan meal, so I don't think they could have had too little food without trying. We still felt kind of awakward.

This awkwardness was intensified when someone came up and talked to one of the Moroccans for a few minutes in Darija. Then someone else explained to us that they were asking if we wanted to rent chairs. There was a four dirham charge per chair. “No, it's fine. We're good with whatever.”
“We're probably going to be getting chairs.”
“Then we'll do that.”
“You want chairs?”
“Are you getting them? We'll do whatever you do.”

They came over with the right number of chairs, and I made an attempt to be helpful and set them up. I didn't know where they were going, so I would hand them off to anyone who looked interested. This resulted in me handing a chair to someone, realizing that his arm was in a sling, and feeling really bad about it. But the chairs did get set up, and there were even tables to go with.

Being to the west of large body of water is nice. Really, really, nice. It's so much easier to see a sunset than a sunrise, and sun doing anything over an ocean (or large enough lake) is gorgeous.

Admittedly not the best shot I could have gotten.

Like I said, there was plenty of food. I finally got a chance to try what looked like tomato rif that I'd previously seen in the Mdina, but never been served. (It tasted like tomato and other vegetable rif.) There was also a really good potato dish, and a cold meat-pastry thing, and of course the fried dough honey sesame seeds. And that's just what was in more-or-less easy reach. (I needed to stand up to get them, but I needed to stand up to reach the table.) 

The only real problem was that there weren't enough cups. Plenty of liquids, but nowhere near enough cups to go around. We shared one between the five of us, and others were in similar situations. Shame they didn't mention anything about food or utensils, or we might have been able to bring them.

It was nice to finally have a chance to talk to Moroccan guys who didn't work for IES and actually knew how to talk to girls. And they were nice, even if they did rather significantly outnumber us.

The rough visual estimate of “around our age” had been accurate. They all around 20. Most of them seemed to be interns- one at the Moroccan parliament, two or three at tech companies. One of them was a Materials engineer. Some were from Rabat, a decent number weren't. One was from Marrakesh, and this was his first time celebrating Ramadan away from his family. To think, only 3 months ago I'd heard people commenting similar things about Easter.

After we finished eating, we took pictures. A lot of pictures. One of the engineers (not the material engineers) had photography as a highly developed hobby, and had a very nice camera. That did not stop him from taking selfies with it. But he took a decent number of good pictures, so it wasn't just an overpriced cell phone camera.

Then we went back to the table, paid, and started singing. Well, they sang songs in Arabic and we clapped along. Until they finished their second song and turned to us going “your turn!” Um...

We spent a few minutes figuring out what song all of us knew, then launched into “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” When that was over, we nominated Nathan to sing the next one, since we'd heard him before Arabic class and he had a good voice. (Him: “I was humming.” Us: “No... you were definitely singing. Go!”)

They sang another song in Arabic, and it was our turn. Once again we nominated Nathan, and once again he sang beautifully. Then they looked at the rest of us and went “your turn!” None of us wanted to go, but the Moroccans didn't seem to think “we can't possibly follow that up” as a valid excuse.

We still didn't have many songs in common. Natasha pointed out we could always sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I agreed to sing with her, mostly to absolve me of further responsibility. We weren't terribly good, and we weren't even singing all the right words. (Natasha sang “how I wonder what you are,” but I'm still convinced it's “how I wonder where you are.”) Once we were done, one of the Moroccans started singing the ABCs, which was neat.

That was the last song of the night. We spent a while longer trying to figure out if there was a song we knew that the Moroccans didn't. (Nathan: “They probably don't know 'Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”' Cynthia: “I'm not sure if I know that one.” Moroccans: “Old MacDonald had a farm. Ee-eye-ee-eye-oh.”)

Even Disney failed us. (Natasha: “I mean, I know the entirety of the ice-breakers song from Frozen, but I don't want to sing alone and I don't think anyone else knows it.) Too many songs that were merely half-remembered, or all-but-firstline-rememebered. So that was the end of singing, which wasn't wholly a bad thing. I would have beeen contnet just to listen to other people sing for a while longer, though.

All in all, it was a great night. I'm glad that Nisrine told us to get contact information the first night, and I'm glad we finally managed to get something together, even if we didn't bring food. It was nice to interact with normal Moroccans. Even if they did seem to like Nathan better. All normal Moroccans do.

Tags: beach, food, moroccans, music, singing

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