As I’m sitting here writing in my bed, I can hardly fathom that only one month has gone by since I first touched down in Rabat. Between trips to Tangiers, Casablanca, Fes and Ifrane, settling into a Moroccan family and beginning to fall into a rhythm here at school, it’s really hard to believe how many incredible experiences I’ve managed to squeeze into a measly five weeks. Folks around here seem to be fond of saying that “time moves slower” in Morocco and I guess it’s got to be true because I don’t know how else to explain how settled I already feel in a place I’ve been living for such a short period of time.
As classes have started to get into high gear this week, a familiar beginning-of-the-semester deluge of reading has begun landing upon my classmates and I but that hasn’t stopped us from having a ton of fun new adventures. One thing that I’ve come to really enjoy about Monday mornings at school is just how commonplace hearing extraordinary stories seems to be. This past weekend alone, one group had a wild time visiting Spain, another group had a relaxing beach day at a renowned spot south of the city and yet another group went out into the countryside, visiting a rural farm owned by their host family. Personally, I was happy to spend some time at home after three consecutive weekends of road-trips across the country. Rabat is a beautiful city and I’d spent far less time wandering around than I would’ve liked. This past Friday, a friend and I had a wonderful time roaming across town from the old city, to the newly constructed contemporary art museum, all the way down to the beaches of neighboring Temara. On Saturday, however, when tickets to an all-important Moroccan World Cup Qualifying match against Gabon fell into our laps, a few friends and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to head down to Casablanca and check out the spectacle.
This proved to be the most incredible experience I’ve had to date. The Moroccan fans did not stay quiet for a single second during the game and their passionate chanting and cheering is something I won’t soon forget. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see 80,000 people in one place celebrating as hard as the folks in Mohamed V stadium were after each of the three goals scored on Saturday night. Those moments were transcendent. I had never thought I’d feel so comfortable being hoisted up by the strangers sitting next to me (who had been setting off flares for the entire game), but I also hadn’t intended to start furiously jumping up and down hugging my friends after Khalid Boutaib’s third goal. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised when the little boy sitting behind me decided to dump the remaining contents of his bottle of Fanta on my head but what was even more shocking was the fact that it somehow felt appropriate.
On the heels of this experience, over the past week, I’ve noticed a real change in my psyche being here. There’s a kind of assuredness that the Moroccan friends and family who I’ve been spending so much time with carry with them and I feel like their attitude has started to rub off on me. People accept that bad things happen everywhere and all the time but they meet this knowledge with a steadfast belief that if and when those things happen, we can make it through them together. I am happy to say that all is well :)