While it’s too soon to come to any definitive conclusions, right now I don’t see staying here very long. The plan right now is to finish out my current term at ALIF (which ends December 8th), take a week or two to travel to Marrakesh and some other Moroccan points south, then go to Spain for a week or so around Christmas/New Year. The new term at ALIF runs from January 4 to February 15, and after that, I think we’re going to go to Egypt– we’ll let you know when plans firm up.
The best thing so far is that I’ve very much enjoyed the opportunity to study Arabic full time. Having class every day really speeds up the learning of new words and grammar. It’s been a little disappointing, though, because my particular class has only two students in it. More personal attention, yes, but not a particularly dynamic environment, and less opportunity to get to know other students. I’m counting on next term being better, with a new crop of students coming in.
I am happy to be free of all the work on the house that hounded me for months, but perhaps we took too extreme a turn away from our spacious and rather luxurious house. Our apartment is big enough, but it’s drafty and there’s no hot tap water in the kitchen, and yesterday, during a rain shower, we discovered that water leaks from the roof into the kitchen through a hole in the ceiling where a bare bulb hangs from bare wire. Perhaps we just need to find a new apartment, but from what I’ve heard such “features” are not all that unusual.
I think about the things that we didn’t like about L.A., and some things that came to mind were the huge numbers of people, the fact that much of the city is frankly ugly, and the crush of cars and the resulting pollution. Unfortunately, Fes has all those things in spades. It has a picturesquely medieval medina, but the streets are so narrow and maze-like that once I’ve been in there an hour or so, I start looking for a way out. Even though there are no cars in there (the streets are not nearly wide enough in most places), there is an incredible amount of foot traffic and some mule and hand-cart traffic, enough that you’re often being yelled at to get out of the way.
The Ville Nouvelle is more like a European city, but the cars and scooters run with very dirty engines, to the point that I can’t stand to sit in a cafe along a big street for very long, because of the fumes. There are way more pedestrians along the Ville Nouvelle streets than you find on L.A. streets, and that’s a good thing, but walking can be hard because of big construction zones and sidewalks in poor condition, and very aggressive drivers.
Perhaps I’ll learn to love the energy of a Moroccan city as I become more a part of it, but I mostly want a beautiful place to live. Outside of the cities Morocco has some beautiful country, but I don’t know if I’m up to rustic village living, either.
More on this later as thoughts develop….