Moroccan colloquial, or Darija, classes started yesterday here at ALIF and not a moment too soon. The Modern Standard Arabic, or Fus-ha, that I studied this summer has come in handy while trying to communicate with my family, but is unfortunately pretty different from Darija (in my opinion, anyway) and is not natural to use in any spoken situation.
I live in the medina of Fez, a labyrinth of narrow alleyways with tall walls that twist and turn up and down in this hot valley. On Sunday we were treated to a medina tour. I hope to post pictures soon. Unfortunately, wireless internet is hard to come by here, and I have been using ALIF’s (air-conditioned!) computer lab.
There are a few things that have become very clear that they are going to be more difficult here than I initially imagined in addition to finding internet access, the most obvious one being transportation. Finding a cab from the new part of town, where we have our classes at ALIF, to the medina is an aggressive game and one that is a test of patience. You have to get in the street and approach the taxi’s window to say your destination. Most often, they shake their finger “no” or tell you to get in. After dripping sweat on the pavement for half an hour yesterday, I just asked around and got on a bus instead.
Coming from the Pacific Northwest, I also was not prepared for the cockroaches I’ve found in the house. They are reddish and about the size of those pink erasers we used to buy in grade school. I’ve already killed three: one in the bathroom, one near the foot of my bed, and one in the kitchen. The first time I screamed and had my host mom help me, the second time I gagged and screamed but did it on my own, and the third time I just jumped around and grunted a bit. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to seeing those.