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“that apple ‘jus’ was frothing.”

December 27, 2011

“The Cultural Experience”

Exiting the plane in Marrakech was like stepping off a spaceship on a mission to Mars. Aside from the fact that I wasn’t wearing a spacesuit, and it took a mere 12 hours to reach my destination [instead of a gargantuan 214 days], my presence in Morocco was about as foreign or unfamiliar as peanut butter in your spaghetti.

Being the independent and carefree person that I am, I arrived in Marrakech with no more of a plan than “my flight home is the morning of the 13th”.

Fahking brilliant.

I was in Marrakech for a total of four days Couch Surfing with two local boys I had met online. Despite the good nature of the two gentlemen, I was not cut out to travel this city alone. I felt like a fish out of water and my inability to speak a lick of Arabic or French coupled with my long blonde hair essentially put a giant target on my body and left me carrying a sign that said “I’m a young American”. As even buying some fruit next door was frustratingly difficult, venturing out to explore alone was almost impossible.

making tea like a pro.

commence pomegranate obsession.

square filled with hundreds of snakes. *shudders*

yves saint laurent garden.

Saturday was a day of experience. Without going into all the nitty gritty details, I’ll include some of the highlights in the form of lessons learned:

Café, conveniently, is a mostly universal term. Pomegranate, however, is not. “Jus de pomme” is in fact frothy white milk and pureed apple. Two things I dislike in drink form. SURPRISE!

coffee + book = bliss. to the left?–an excuse for apple juice.

When wearing a headscarf, you will be less often harassed. However, do not speak to anyone. Should you try locals will assume you are a) foreign or b) stupid.

embracing culture.

Do not trust homemade “vegetarian” dishes, unless you are prepared to bawl your eyes out and vomit until you bleed. [Future references to this will only be listed as the “incident”.]

death by cous-cous. not a good way to go.

Ashen and exhausted after the “incident”, my host suggested a trip to the baths. Steam filled rooms and hot water sounded therapeutic after my insides had taken their revenge, so I trucked along with towel and shampoo in hand to the local bathhouse. There I was dragged [literally] into the wash area and scrubbed mercilessly by an older naked Moroccan woman with boobs the size of small watermelons. I am fit to describe them accurately because they knocked me in the face over and over again. I eventually lost count of how many times it happened because she scrubbed my skin so hard I started crying in the bathhouse. Fortunately my tears were hidden by buckets of water simultaneously being thrown overtop of my body. Next time I go [never] I will practice how to say “ouch” and “you’re hurting me” in Arabic beforehand. When I finally emerged I was terrified, scraped, bruised and clean.

Part one of my trip did capitalize on its opportunity to redeem itself on Sunday.

I went with my host to visit his family about an hour cab ride outside of Marrakech. What a lucky guy to have such a loving family. His grandmothers were absolutely adorable [grandparents can be adorable, right?] and his parents were warm and welcoming, so proud of their home and their children. We threw formalities aside easily enough and I went straight to feeling like an insider for the day. After three suffocating days in the city, it was reviving to be in the countryside.

welcome tea <3.

olive pulp. moroccan olive oil is orgasmic. fer serious.

this does the atlas range no justice.

moroccan make-up.

henna par-tay.

like playing in the mud–only way better.

“The Holiday”

You can walk the length of Taghazout in no more than five minutes. The restaurants boast nearly identical menus. There is no alcohol available, despite the town being overrun with foreigners, and much of the food on the shelves in the stores has expired. Here you buy your dinner fresh, which means selecting your fish and chickens live or nearly so and allowing the experts kill and prepare the carcass in front of you. There is not a single ice cream shop that exists. There is thankfully, however, a readily available and abundant supply of peanut M&Ms.

Coming from Marrakech, Taghazout was an oasis and I fell in love when the first bit of sunshine hit my vitamin d-deficient face. I arrived mid-afternoon and proceeded to wander around lost for thirty minutes. In order to hide my confusion I snapped pictures, though I think eventually all the stuff I was carrying gave away my act. Eventually, bogged down by two backpacks and the wrong trekking shoes, I accepted my inability to navigate this new place and locate Africa Extrem. I gave in to help when a non-threatening surfer type asked [in English] if I needed somewhere to stay. [You can always trust a surfer, right?]

forever a beach baby. ::le sigh::

Phone calls were made and ESP messages were sent. Manager Younes picked me up and dropped me off at the hostel where I was warmly welcome by three Spaniards. I was offered vegetarian tajine, which I hungrily accepted—“You’re certain this is vegetarian, right?” [Happiness had reached an all-time high. Dry tears streamed down my face.]

tea time is all the time.

At Africa Extrem, I found myself surrounded by travelers like myself, which made it hard to break off and enter the blood-curdling world of solo travel in Morocco once again. In fact, I became so comfortable there, that I cancelled my other non-existent plans and bummed around the beach for the rest of my trip. [Oops?]

i dig on monocles.

my star student.

ooooohlala legs.

new friends. from all ovaa tha mothafahkin’ planet. credit: tom

camels: not just for the desert anymore. credit: tom

My first few days surfing were spent splashing around in the whitewater [though never without a wearing a shit-eating grin], though by my last day I was making [a teeny tiny itsy bitsy] bit of progress and regretted not showing up to my “holiday” portion of the trip at the start. Turns out that despite the frigid waters of the north-ish Atlantic, that surfing was the most fun I’ve had at the beach since I was eleven playing “over/under” with Mia and Lily.

the most important rule? make your “wetty” look good.

Since returning to Spain, I’ve demonstrated to my students how to stand up on a surfboard nearly slipping to the ground as I did so. [So help me if I’m not the first person ever to demonstrate brilliance in some sort of surf/hoop combination.] I’ve perfected my roundhouse kick so that next time I see Tom and Sean I can give them both a shin to the face—at the same time. I have come to believe whole-heartedly in upping my cool factor to eleven by ending all words with “-y/-ies”, to hell if it doesn’t make sense: “I’m going to cook up some garbanzies for the dinny in my sunnies,” [or something]. I have become more confident in my use of words such as “toyed”, “keen”, “frothing” and “pumping”, though admittedly they are dropped out of context. [Looks like learning Australian is going to take time.] My M&M snacking habit has intensified by ten-fold and shows no signs of being abated in the near future. I’ve been bit by the travel bug again and am starting to pursue future trips and plans post-Spain.

I miss the beach more than ever, but am glad to be safely home in a familiar world of “vale”s and “venga”s.

welcome home, maddy.

[Someone tell me why my captions in edit mode are way prettier than when previewed and published. OCD tendencies rearing their ugly heads again…]

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. oli permalink
    December 27, 2011 11:14 pm

    rock n roll

  2. January 5, 2012 3:08 am

    More boys need hoops in their hands. It’s so hot. 🙂 Sounds like you’re enjoying your time overseas!

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