So I've been in Fes for almost a week now. And it's been hard to get to a computer, since I have to rely on internet cafes. There's been a lot, and I mean A LOT going on, too much to really tell in one entry, so here's a list of highlights so far.
-The train ride from Casablanca to Fes...so MUCH fun (sarcasm here). We bought first class tickets, which have assigned seats, but the guy pointed us to the wrong end of the train for our compartment and we had to shove past a million understandably annoyed Moroccans (with our bulky luggage in a very very crowded train) to get to the right seats. Yea. Not fun.
-The old medina in Fes is the most confusing thing in the world. It's like sensory overload with what seems like millions of stalls selling just about everything. The streets are really narrow, and you have to walk through them and a donkey or mule carrying a load of VCRs will pass by you every 2 minutes, with a man yelling in French to get out of the way.
-Also, I didn't realize knowing French would actually be incredibly useful. People here mainly know Arabic and French, very few know much English. And they don't expect you to know Arabic so even when you try and say something, they'll reply to you in French. And I don't know Frend and my Arabic is ...spotty at best so this has been fun. Especially since I don't know Moroccan dialect at all and it doesn't seem like a lot of people know Fusha (Modern Standard Arabic)
-Megan and I are staying with a host family. They're awesome and they have a really nice house in the Ville Nouvelle. There's a mother, who's a French professor, a dad (I don't know what he does, but he works ...somewhere), a daughter who's about 24 and teaches English, and a son who's 19 I think and he's studying medicine. There's also a grandma and an aunt and uncle who come in now and again. They're all really great and they're pretty Western, I suppose. We watch a lot of Arabic TV. And Desperate Housewives. Weird.
-The food is great but the customs are kind of weird. In our family there's one big dish, and everyone takes out their forks and eats out of the one big plate of food. And they rarely have something to drink, they just have a bottle of water and a cup that they share. I feel weird drinking out of the one cup though. And although it doesn't seem like they eat that much, they're always forcing US to eat, no matter how much we insist that we're full.
-Also, trying to speak in Arabic with people, when you don't know much Arabic, is ...actually REALLY exhausting. And classes are really hard, but I feel like I'm learning a lot more here than I ever did taking Arabic at Mary Washington. So hopefully my pathetic language skills will improve by the end of the summer.
-Driving here is terrifying because there don't seem to be any traffic rules or stop lights or anything. There's no such thing as "right of way" so crossing the street on foot seems like a life-or-death experience. Cars WILL not stop for pedestrians, even if you're in the middle of the road so you have to be careful. Luckily, it's a system that I've...kinda figured out, but it takes practice.
-Lastly, the tea is incredible. Word.