You know that Tangier rooftop chase scene in The Bourne Ultimatum? Well, I have one of those Moroccan rooftops, in the city where I’ll be living for the next ten months, and this is the view from my roof. I almost feel like those mountains are a photoshopped background! My next trip to Marjane (basically Moroccan Walmart) will hopefully include getting a table and deck chairs for the roof so we can eat dinner up there.
My move from Rabat started with getting ripped off by a taxi driver for the first time since arriving in Morocco. We’ve generally had really positive experiences with taking cabs in Rabat. The drivers don’t pretend the meter is broken like they do in Marrakech, they get a kick out of helping us practice our Darija, and I had a semi-deep conversation in French about Morocco’s unemployment problem with one driver, while another driver told us he’d rather go to the moon than drive taxis. The day before I moved, a friend and I went to the bus station to get our tickets. We took a cab back to the place where we were staying, and when we got there, we realized the meter said 52 dirhams, more than double what it should have been. Most likely the driver had neglected to reset the meter to zero when we got in the cab. I argued with him and scolded him in French, calling him dishonest, to which he acted thoroughly insulted. Fifty-two dirhams is like six or seven dollars, but it’s the principle of the thing! Finally I gave in, paid him 52 dirhams and not a centime more, and told him as passive-aggressively as possible (and French is the best language for passive-aggressiveness) to have a good evening. The next day, our Darija teacher gave us some good advice. If this ever happens again, we will tell the driver to take us to the police station. He said he’s done this himself before, and the driver immediately backed down and charged him the correct fare.
I was so mad at that driver that when my cab driver the next morning charged me the right amount, I paid him double just for not being a crook. I guess that doesn’t make much sense, but it made sense in my head at the time!
My five-hour trip on the CTM bus was very pleasant… more comfortable than some of the Megabus trips I’ve experienced between New York and Boston. I sat in the front row and had a beautiful view of the Moroccan countryside. I was next to a Moroccan woman about my age, with a black and white hijab and henna-painted hands. She spoke no French or English, and it started to really dawn on me that in northern Morocco I will no longer be able to rely on my French! My Spanish is not a whole lot better than my Darija, but we somehow managed to chat in Spanish about our jobs, families, and favorite places in Morocco, and we bonded over both having five siblings and both needing our “cafe con leche” every morning. She asked me if I wanted to become a Muslim, and I said that I liked all the Muslims I’d met in Morocco but I think I’ll stay a Christian, and she was like oh okay that’s cool too. Her town was the stop before mine. She kissed me on both cheeks like we were already old friends and wished me a wonderful year in Morocco.
The director of the American Language Center in my city picked me up at the bus station. He has been incredibly kind, helping me find a roommate and apartment, introducing me to people, showing me around my new neighborhood, and buying me my first couple of meals here while I get settled in. I was happily surprised to find out that my apartment is furnished. One less thing to worry about! Here is my living room. It looks so Moroccan.