Wednesday, March 11, 2009

con patatas

Whenever Trini baby-talks with Diego, she ultimately ends up singing a little rhyme to him about a tortilla, con pa-ta-tas, y con que-so, y con ja-mOn. It's really cute because she really emphasizes the accents of each word and leans in to surprise him, which results in the biggest grin from our little bug eyed gordito. I guess it's the way the Spaniards do peek-a-boo. Which leads me to further question how there aren't more obese Spaniards haha.

Yesterday I had an hour long orientation for my Morocco trip. It sounds like it is going to be absolutely incredible. Here's our general schedule:
Day 1: Thursday
- Leave Granada at 10am and take a bus to Gibraltar which is on the very southern tip of Spain. We are staying over night in a hotel there (dinner that night is the only meal not included in the whole trip, not bad).

Day 2:Friday
- 9 am ferry ride across the strait over to africa! Javier said that this is one of the most gorgeous ferry rides he has ever been on because at certain points you will be able to see the Spanish coastline and African coastline on either side of you. I'm going to have to be careful not to waste all my pictures just on that boat ride.
- We arrive in Morocco and visit a womens center to learn about gender issues and roles in Moroccan society. We eat lunch there.
- Afterwards we get on small tour buses that seat about 20 each and drive to Assilah, which is on the Atlantic coast. We do some sight seeing there and by night we arrive at the capital, Rabat, which will be our main base for the trip. We break into groups of three or four and meet our host families.

Day 3: Saturday
- IES is opening a study abroad program in Morocco for next semester so we're going to meet with the new program director who is also a professor at the local university. He's going to tell us about the area and whatnot, and afterwards we're going to meet an IES Granada-alum who went to Morocco for the first time with IES two years ago, feel in love, and is now a Fulbright Scholar there doing research. On what I don't know, but I will find out eventually ahha.
- Afterwards we're going to do a few touristy things, Javier didn't really specify what though.
- Lunch
- After lunch we're going to meet Moroccan students from Rabat who will be able to speak either some english or spanish. we're going to have three or four hours to hang out with them and either go to a beach or shop or walk around.
-Afterwards we're going to split into all-girl and all-guy groups to visit the Hamam, or bath house. Apparently it's custom for girls to go naked, but Javier said we can wear a bathing suit if we feel more comfortable in that and everything will be fine. Javier said that random people will come up and try to massage or scrub you if you're just standing around, and if you don't say "baraka" or enough, they'll exfoliate a few layers of your skin off haha.
-After the hamam we'll have time to do more shopping and get Henna tattoos, which I'm excited about as well!

Day 4: Sunday
- We go to visit a village in the mountain, which involves us riding CAMELS at some point. CAMELS!!! This might be the highlight of the trip for me (kidding, but it will be awesome).
-After visiting the village we'll move on to the mountain city of Chefchaouen and stay in a hotel up there

Day 5: Monday
- We take a mountain hike and then go on the bus to Cueta. Javier said Cueta is interesting because it is an extreme borderland and you'll see many Moroccans waiting around trying to immigrate into Spain. I'm really intrigued by this part because my history seminar last semester was about American Borderlands, so I know a lot about how borderland areas work and I'm really excited to witness this in person. Thesis potential? Who knows. Javier also told us that this is one of the marijuana capitals of the world but that we can NOT buy anything unless we want to end up in jail for 20 years. hahaha (don't worry moo)
- we will take the ferry back to Spain and stop somewhere for an early dinner
- Back in Granada around 7:30

I think I'm most excited about the homestays. Javier said that the Moroccan sense of public and private spaces are very extreme. The homes are very feminine and intimate and each room has multiple uses. For example, you may be eating breakfast right next to someones bed. While the public space is more masculine and open. It reminds me a lot of my awful poli-sci class sophomore year about the politics of urban space. I sound like a complete cliche/college catalog, but it really IS awesome to get to see the classroom material come to life. I can't wait! Also, most Moroccan families don't have toilet paper, it's actually on my packing list (which I will type up next). They use a Turkish toilet and may or may not have a shower, the bucket and water system is more popular (most Moroccans go to Hamams to bathe). The left hand is used for hygiene and the right for eating, but I will not be embracing this tradition and using my left hand to wipe ... I will be bringing my toilet paper. Daddy I can HEAR you laughing haha

Our homestays will be for two nights in Medina which is the old part of Rabat, similar to the Albaicin in Granada. The houses are set up similarly to Grenadian ones as well, with a central patio that has rooms off of it. The patio serves as the common space where all the living and eating occurs, as I said before it is a multiple use room. However, Javier emphasized awareness of an invisible barrier between the private and public: since the houses are on top of one another we'll most likely be able to see other IES kids and their host families from our patios, but it is complete taboo to acknowledge them at all. The barrier between the private space of the home and public space is NOT to be broken.

I'm also excited about the food, Javier told us the Moroccans are very welcoming and hospitable people and will most likely keep feeding us until we say NO MORE (baraka!). The weather should be 70s and 80s, a little cooler in the mountains though. And since Morocco is a Muslim country we need to dress more conservatively, I'm thinking about buying some gypsy skirts from the hippie vendors on my walk to school, because there is not way I will be able to survive in jeans in 80 degree sunshine. I sweat too much.

The currency in Morocco is the dirham (MDH), which is roughly 11 MDH to 1 euro. When we first arrive in Morocco we'll be able to use ATMs to take out money since it's the most cost efficient way to get dirham and ensure the right exchange rate.

Javier gave us a "survival guide to being a superb Magribby guest" which lists some key phrases in Arabic like hello, thanks you, delicious, I'm full, etc. I butcher them, this will be interesting haha. Apparently on "kh" you make a throat gurgle noise, I'll do my best!

Our packing list:
- backpack (i WILL pack light, because i have to haha)
-swimsuit and towel
-comfy shoes
-sandals, flip flops for the hamam
-toilet paper (or your left hand ... )
-hand sanitizer
-and there's a list of Dramamine, Advil, etc since IES isn't allowed to give us medicine for some legal reason

Also, IES will constantly provide us with bottled water, hopefully the stomach flu won't have it's revenge. Fingers crossed.

Okay, I'm going to walk to my Anthro class today since it's been so gorgeous out (he tomado el sol MUCHO esta manana!!). Just wanted to update you on the Morocco sitch. No ladies night in granada 10 tonight because i have a midterm tomorrow, sad day :(


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