8am - a cafe downtown
I arrived this morning only half afraid of the violent turbulance on the plane. It got so bad that I instinctively put my shoes on in case of a water landing. I think my instinctive actions scared me more than the turbulance.
I don't know what it is, but I can't stand talking on airplane rides. Maybe it's the fact that I feel sedated the instant I get on the plane or the fact that I have to crink my neck left or right to listen to someone talk about the "cutest" thing his kid did over the weekend. Well I lucked out on the plane ride over, sitting next to a woman that spoke no English, only Russian. This older plump woman, clad in leopard skin and a black dress hat, did not say a word until half way through the flight. As I was munching on a Luna bar she unwrapped a giant croissant, tore it in two and offered me half. I gestured "no thank you," but she shoved it closer. I smiled and tried again, "no thank you" except this time she nearly threw the thing at me and had a look on her Russian face like, "if you do not eat this croissant I will break a vodka bottle over your head." I accepted, for my own safety, and looked inside. Sausage. There is something you should know about me if you do not already. I am a very picky meat eater at home; I eat hunted meat or meat that I know is local and sustainable. But when I am traveling I refuse to say no. How rude and pretentious to refuse the food that a stranger is willing to give to me? This woman did not understand the word 'no' let alone 'organic' or 'sustainable'. So I ate it with guilty pleasure.
Let that be the theme of this trip: unapologetic indulgence.
7pm - in the home of the family I am staying with
Earlier today I visited my first mosque. It sat on the coast of the ocean, half buried in the sand and crashing waves. You can never imagine how large the grounds are until you see this. Children's school groups follow in long lines, men and women prepare for midday prayer. I was forbidden to enter because I am a woman, but it did not bother me. These are not my customs and rituals therefore I have no right to criticize them. I stood back and marveled at the grandeur of the building and listened as the loud speakers began the chants and prayers. Men flocked from all corners to enter the mosque while others continued on like the disruption was white noise.
Later on I was honored to have been invited to eat at my host's house for a late lunch. I wasn't sure what to expect as I climbed the winding stairs to his family's apartment. I entered onto an open air terrace that appeared to be a type of living room. Other rooms opened off of this courtyard. We sat around a small table in a side room and Ghassane's mother presented a large tray with onions cooked in curry, large homemade bread, and a roasted chicken. I observed what others would do before I dug in. No plates, no silverware, just hundreds of years of tradition on a family platter. We ate with our hands and they laughed at my timidness. I was giving it my best but this was a new concept! (Just like peeing in a hole and flushing it with a bucket of water...) They kept putting food in front of my face but I just couldn't continue. I felt like they were slightly insulted but it only lasted until tea and cookies were brought out next. Everyday they take the time to make traditional tea from scratch. They call it Moroccan whiskey and laugh and laugh at the word "whiskey." Let me tell you - they weren't kidding. After only two sips I felt the room start to sink into itself, my body get heavier, and my mind get a little fuzzier. I'm not sure what was in that tea but I had to say no after only half a cup. I didn't want to wind up passed out in Africa on my first day. Maybe the second or third but not the first.
And now as I think about falling asleep on their insanely hard couches that everyone sleeps on, I listen to children outside in an African drum circle. I thought it was adorable how they gathered around to beat on anything with a sound and sing communal songs. Yeah, not so cute anymore when they set fire to a pile of twenty tires in the apartment courtyard. The billowing black toxic smoke engulfed the windows as people lit off fireworks and sang even louder. I am now going to peacefully drift to sleep as the toxic fumes take away my consciousness. Goodnight Morocco. Thank you for your whiskey tea and burning tires to send me off into a pleasant hallucinatory dream-state.