Morocco feels old, kind of in the same way that France feels old. People have been living here for centuries and centuries. A crack in the sidewalk might have been there for a day or for years. The buildings sit stacked up on each other, all painted a sort of white color with some walls of bright red thrown in.
The streets of Rabat, where we are now for about a week, are packed with people and cars, with drivers weaving in and out of each other, horns honking, avoiding pedestrians and motorcyclists. People hang their wash out to dry on rooftops or balconies so that shirts and pants wave like flags.
Outside of Rabat, the country is surprisingly green, with palm trees and large, flat cacti growing along the road. The courtyard next to our hotel houses several clementine trees, branches waving bright orange fruit. And if you don’t have your own citrus tree, you can just walk down the street to the nearest fruit stall.
We arrived in Casablanca at just before 6 a.m. Moroccan time on Jan 16, our flight only taking five-and-a-half hours as opposed to the seven I was expecting. I tried incredibly hard to sleep on the plane, but there just wasn’t much time. Once again, the impossible has been achieved and all my bags arrived. Everyone made it through customs and the Peace Corps Morocco staff then put us onto buses for our drive to Rabat just as the sun was starting to come up. I fell asleep on most of the trip and woke up just as we were turning down the street to our hotel, which I’m pretty sure we’ve taken over the whole of.
Since we were checking in at like 9 a.m., we were given the morning to settle in, which for most of us meant taking naps. Monika, my roommate, and I slept until about noon and then went for lunch downstairs at 12:30 p.m. It was a whole spread of different dishes, but as none were labeled, I’m not sure exactly what each was. There was a spicy cold tomato sauce, some sort of fish, a spicy ratatouille-type dish, bread, mashed potatoes and several vegetable dishes, all super yummy.
As promised, the inside of Moroccan buildings is far colder than outside, so we’re all piling on the layers.
Our training today consisted of introductions of the Peace Corps Morocco staff, an overview of our training and an overview of the medical care we would receive while in country. Also, we started getting our shots. I got three – which I think were typhoid, one of the Hepatitises and rabies. Basically things can bite me now and I’ll be ok. And my arm muscles hurt. Our second round of vaccinations comes on Friday (?).
After training, Monika and I and two other trainees, Sandy and Dani, took a quick walk down the street our hotel is on, having been advised of areas to avoid. Apparently we are quite close to the Rabat medina and downtown areas, but as it was getting dark, we didn’t want to go too far. We did walk past a mosque though, where we could hear a bit of the prayers being said from inside.
My camera batteries, sadly, are in need of recharging and as my charger is in the bottom of one of my bags, you’ll all need to wait a bit for pictures.
Dinner is at 7:30 p.m., and my goal is to stay up at least until 9:30 to fix my sleep cycle. Tomorrow we have a full day of sessions and we also get to learn who is in our community based training, where we get split into smaller communities to learn the language and such.
In short, I’m excited to be here and doing well! I hope everyone at home is much the same.