We’re Here…And We Found Our Wal-Mart
Well, we’ve landed safely in Rabat, Morocco. We could not have asked for a smoother transition than what we’ve experienced since our arrival. For amusement, I went back and read our blog post from the first few days in Tanzania. I had to laugh because I’m pretty sure my words were far more gentle and gracious than what I was actually feeling at the time. That must have been my attempt at trying to keep a good attitude–rest assured, I failed. So we are happy to report that our first week bears NO resemblance to our first week in Dar.
There’s something to be said about moving overseas for a second time. It’s a whole lot easier. We packed more wisely. We purchased a car in advance (and it was in our driveway the day we arrived). Our awesome sponsor stocked our pantry with groceries and homemade chicken enchiladas. It helped that we set our expectations low enough that almost nothing could surprise us. And truly, very little did.
This is not to say that living here will be a piece of cake. We have already identified some major challenges, the biggest being the French and Arabic languages. In Dar, many folks could at least speak a little English, but the language barrier in Morocco is much more isolating. When someone speaks to me in French, my chief tactic is to ignore or slowly back away, depending on the level of confusion generated by the exchange. This cannot continue. Also, Morocco is nearly 100% Muslim and despite Western tendencies, Islamic culture reigns. Modesty was always recommended in Dar, but in Morocco, it is seemingly more important to keep covered, especially now during the month of Ramadan.
And speaking of Ramadan, I am withholding full judgement on this city until it is over. The end of Ramadan can’t come soon enough for us. During Ramadan, Western clothes are put away and the Islamic clothes come out. Few Moroccans work a full day during the entire month and productivity takes a huge dive. Since no one is eating, restaurants are closed until sundown when the feasting begins. Public eating and drinking are especially huge transgressions, both of which have been problematic for the members of our family who are pregnant. (There is just one of us, so feel free to read this as we are having a baby boy, due in December). It seems the country turns into a pumpkin during Ramadan, so truly, we will probably have no idea what this place is actually like until the fasting ends.
There are a few high points to note. The main areas of the city are quite beautiful. Every street is paved and most all have a curb and sidewalk (though not all streets are clean and well-kept). It must be the urban planner in me, but I leaped with joy when I saw street trees. We also very much look forward to the addition of cheese and turkey back into our diets. Morocco is pretty French, so get a load of the cheese aisle! They even have a Wal-Mart equivalent, Marjane. Although not quite as magnificent, it rivals the Waynesville Wal-Mart in size. And a big bonus…there is an American commissary here which carries many items not available on the local market (as in Breyers ice cream).
We know hard times are ahead. Culture shock will not be eluded and we have already begun to taste some of that. But we are hopeful that our time here will be as rich and adventurous as Tanzania. We sure do miss that place.
P.S. I hope you like the look of the new blog. A face lift was in order. More pictures to come (with a decent camera) once we start touring the city.