This is The Kingdom of Morocco

Life in Morocco so far has been characterized by lots of false starts:  arrival during Ramadan, broken down car, bed rest, baby.  But not anymore.  We are back in full force-ish.  And I realized amid all of that craziness, I never really introduced Morocco to you…or to myself.  So here goes.  This is Morocco, or in Arabic, Al Maghreb.

Morocco is in North Africa.  It’s a coastal country, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and Algeria.  You know that tiny point on the map where Spain and Africa almost meet?  That’s the Straight of Gibraltar and the Africa side is Morocco.

This is the king.  He is wearing a jellaba, the traditional Moroccan dress with a pointy hood (It’s unisex!).   The king is the head honcho around here, but he has devolved some powers down to the prime minister and parliament.  Morocco has a new constitution too, passed in 2011 following the Arab Spring.

King Mohammed VI

King Mohammed VI

Where we live in Rabat, there is a fair amount of development.  Infrastructure is good.  Roads are in good condition (paved too!).  There is a steady stream of electricity, few power surges, and we definitely enjoy having reliable internet.  We feel much safer than we did in Tanzania, though as foreigners, you always have to watch out.  From what I understand, the rural areas are quite different from what we experience in Rabat.  You’ll probably hear more about that when we next venture out of the city.

Culturally, there is a lot going on here.  Morocco is 99% Arab and Muslim.  As a group, they, along with most other North Africans are known as the Berbers.  Yes, Berber carpet was named after these folks who make a similar-looking rug!

The Beni Ourain rug is highly fashionable in the US. I don’t get it, but maybe after a few more months here, I’ll think its beautiful.

You might guess that being so close to Spain, there are European influences as well.  The Spanish occupied Morocco in the late 1800’s and the country was a French protectorate from 1912 – 1956.  French is still the business language here and Arabic is the common man’s language.  I speak neither.  Matt speaks both.

When I was back home this winter, everything Moroccan seemed to be in fashion:  Moroccan poufs, Moroccan rugs, Moroccan argan oil, Moroccan food.  The most recent Williams-Sonoma catalog featured Moroccan recipes and tajines.  West Elm is selling original Moroccan rugs for obscene prices.  Please do not spend hundreds of dollars on a Garnet Hill Moroccan leather pouf.  Instead, spend hundreds of dollars visiting me and pay $15 for your pouf.  Think about it.