I Find You Strange and Off-Putting
peering through a disconcertingly clear looking-glass, you begin to
see not only how much you've changed, but just how simple and
downright embarrassing many of your pleasures in life are. Also, you
should probably shower more.
During our week in Rabat another PCV, Phil, had two friends visiting
from the States who tagged along on many of our group outings. He
ended up apologizing to them on more than one occasion. "I'm sure the
last thing you guys wanted was come to Morocco to eat pizza," he said,
sheepishly. They were good sports and game for just about everything,
from pizza at Fast Pizza (second best pizza in Morocco!) to pizza at
the Goethe Institute (best pizza in Morocco!), to endless stops for
juice and ice cream and long meandering walks through the medina in
search of knitting supplies and guitar strings. The joy on our faces
as we sampled each and every flavor of frogurt was, evidently, highly
When we stopped en masse for makouda sandwiches from a vendor tucked
away in the medina they sat back, asking diplomatic questions skirting
the issue of food safety. A year ago I likely would have shunned it
as well for fear of food poisoning – now it took all my willpower not
to go for seconds.
Most of the time, though, they eagerly asked us question after
question about Morocco – the culture, the people, the languages – they
were restless to put Rabat into some sort of context. We happily
obliged, realizing just how savvy we were about everything from cabs
and dress codes to pop-culture and slang. At once it occurred to us
that women in veils, the call to prayer, haggling for a pair of socks,
bread baked into flat circles, too much sugar, and utterly wee cups of
coffee have become not only normal but downright mundane.
Sometimes I forget that I live here.
Also normal: texting five people at once to ask for the Arabic word
for 'ministry' when my cab driver speaks no Tashlheelt and my French
sounds like I'm Charlie Brown's teacher and the fare is growing by the
minute and the cabby is like, "Seriously, why do you not even know how
to do this?"