Here’s Looking At You, Kid

In my last post, I mentioned how Islam is woven into the fabric of life here. Back in the U.S., some people view the call to prayer 5 times per day as a ridiculously stringent requirement. But if you were a devout practitioner of any religion, how great would it be if 5 times a day, you were reminded to think of God for a few minutes? Here’s what I’ve seen in the cities of Morocco so far: When the calls of the imams go out (and many mosques have them so you hear it everywhere), those who want to pray for a few minutes go somewhere private to do so. Those who don’t work might take time go to the mosque if they want. But many people ignore the call; you can’t always just drop everything to pray at a moment’s notice.

On Fridays more people go to the mosque, or at least take time to pray. Yvonne was teaching a workshop last Friday and 2 women in the group went missing after lunch. They had gone to pray and everyone had to wait for 30 minutes until they got back, which was completely acceptable to the other participants.

We have now been in Casablanca for 6 days and I have pretty much seen everything a tourist would be interested in seeing. This city reminds me of of growing up in Manhattan, when New York was still dirty, polluted and full of dangerous traffic. Continue reading “Here’s Looking At You, Kid”

Nothing Is Free

As I write, I am on the train to Casablanca, where we will spend the next week. The rules around the vehicle in which Yvonne will be traveling prohibit me from joining her. So I am spending the hour-long ride writing. I bought a $7 first-class ticket and this car is as nice as anything you’d find in the U.S.

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Sometimes you find yourself in the right place at the right time 🙂

This morning I went back to the kings’ mausoleum to get a couple of better photos. One of the great things about this trip is that I have so much time and flexibility. I’ve now been there 3 times! It is an extraordinarily beautiful place. Continue reading “Nothing Is Free”

First Impressions

We’ve been in Rabat for 2 days now, still adjusting to the 8-hour time difference. Yesterday, we had a pleasant all-day walking adventure.

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Extremes: Young women in jeans and a conservative couple in djelaba and burkha

One thing I’ve been struck by is the contrasts in the ways women dress. One might see a woman in a kaftan and hijab, walking by another woman in torn jeans and long, flowing hair. Many women wear a hijab with western clothes. And we see them socializing together, not separately. I find myself wondering if there is a deeper cultural significance than just how strictly they practice Islam. Or maybe I just have preconceptions to let go of. Yvonne talks about culture being like an iceberg: What is visible is a very small part of it. Continue reading “First Impressions”

Waiting For Rabat

 

7744635Days ran into months as we awaited the final signing of contracts before travel arrangements could be made, about a year after Yvonne first applied for this project. But now, it’s really happening! We are leaving for Morocco for 2 months, on April 18!

Yvonne is nervous about how to successfully train new career advisors at 3 Moroccan universities, collectively serving a few hundred thousand students at any given time. I am nervous about how I’m going to avoid feeling obligated to buy a really expensive fez, in some shop I never would have entered had the proprietor not invited me in for a cup of “the best mint tea you’ll find in all of Marrakesh.”

At least, that’s what I keep reading can happen. Continue reading “Waiting For Rabat”