My Moroccan Delights
Recently Kevin, one of our instructors, read us an essay from the book him and Kristen are reading, The Book of Delights, for our morning check in inspiration. Written by Ross Gay, The Book of Delights is a compilation of things that delighted Gay everyday over the course of a year. For example, he explains the delightfulness of a high-five from a stranger or the delight one feels when hearing a certain song. In an interview he describes these things that delight him as “kindnesses that we’re constantly in the midst of”. This reminded me of the very first Yak on pleasant surprises in Morocco inspired by Eliza (miss you Eliza!!), when I had said that I had been pleasantly surprised by the kindness of strangers here. Quickly I realized that many other things had delighted me throughout my time on course in Morocco and I wrote some of them down, so here are my Moroccan delights!
1. Meet The Dragons
Landing in Paris on my own had been quite nerve-racking simply because I wasn’t sure when or how I’d be meeting the rest of the dragons. Walking back and forth between the Pret-a-Manger and the Laduree in my terminal at Charles De Gaulle I worried over the importance of first impressions and how I should present myself to these strangers I’d be spending the next 3 months with. Anxious but excited to be heading to Morocco, I boarded the flight and found my seat. Passengers filed past me but no one wore the same dragons shirt I wore, I was trying to distract myself with my magazine when I suddenly heard someone exclaim “Dragons!” from a little ways down the aisle. Looking up I saw a friendly face (it was Lauren!) wearing the same shirt I had on! Soon I got to say hi and see everyone (except for Gabe who we met in Casablanca) for the first time. This memory has only grown more delightful for me over time as I have gotten to know my fellow dragons better and better and become friends with them all.
2. Last Train to Rabat
Very soon after my first delight comes my second: catching the train! Perhaps not the most exciting endeavor but after the hours of waiting for the bags in Casablanca, we got so lucky with the timing of our train’s arrival. So lucky that it would only be appropriate to describe the feeling as we successfully boarded that train -after sprinting for it with all of our 50-60L backpacks- as delightful.
3. Msemen Women
I would like to preface this delight by saying that I don’t think any amount of explanation or description will adequately illustrate my love for msemen. However, omitting “Msemen Women” from my delights altogether would be criminal, so here is my delight on msemen.
My first morning in Morocco I was introduced to the flaky, thin, roti-like-goodness that is msemen. Upon first glance, I was unimpressed. The I-Team had presented us with bundles of msemen dripping in honey and oil for breakfast and the notion of eating these flatbread looking things seemed too messy and not worth the hassle so early in the morning. Little did I know at this was the moment that would mark the start of my love affair with msemen. It is difficult to put into words what msemen is exactly but it is important that all the yak readers understand that it is best eaten with honey and Laughing Cow spreadable cheese. Mine and Lauren’s love for msemen grew so apparent to the rest of the group that we were branded the “Msemen Women.” This is also often what I say I’m looking for everyday between 4-6pm as msemen is usually prepared fresh by women behind hot stove tops.
4. Peaches & Cream (Wafers)
After one of our very first stipend meals* in Fez, a few Dragons (Michelle, Eliza and Emma) and I, armed with fuzzy peaches and cream wafers headed to a cafe for some atay. Up on a terrace with a view of Bab Boujloud and the medina from above, we ate our snacks and sipped on our hot mint teas. In the middle of our conversation the call to prayer sounded from a nearby loudspeaker, without a word we all stopped talking and looked to the sky. The setting sun had painted the sky in streaky hues of pink and purple as flocks of birds weaved through minarets and the other terraces atop the surrounding buildings. The overall effect: delightful. ☺Ask any one of the dragons mentioned in this delight and they’ll tell you about how calm and pleasant that moment was, and having shared it with these new friends of mine made it even more delightful!
One of the many perks of our rural homestay in Bougamez were the stars at night. Having lived in Singapore for the majority of my life, I’ve come to normalize the light polluted skies and had not considered the prospect of seeing a lot of stars on course. So you can imagine my delight as I was walking home from one of the movie nights (we watched Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark) with the Bougamez English club and looked up to see that the sky had lit up with all the stars. I was quite literally starstruck. Despite lacking any knowledge whatsoever on constellations, I stood gazing up at the sky in awe. The Milky Way was bright as ever that night and I counted 4 shooting stars before I decided to head back home. Just watching the stars that night left me feeling both content and amazed.
6. Tea Shirts in Marrakech
Over and over again I talk about how kind the people I’ve come across in Morocco are. Whether it’s been the stranger sitting across from me on the train offering me biscuits and orange juice, or my Bougamez host siblings Issra and Dohra running to greet me with hugs, I’ve encountered some very nice people. On a search for an extra t-shirt, -after losing one of mine in Marrakech, sorry Mom!- Lauren, Michelle and I met two men who worked at a souvenir shop, Abdul and Hassan. We had come with only one intention, to buy a shirt and leave, but through the grueling process of bargaining we had revealed that we were students and that we could speak a little bit of Darija. Abdul and Hassan were quite intrigued and invited us to stay for evening tea. Despite only having two cups we shared the tea between the five of us and continued our half Darija half English conversation seated on tiny stools around a miniature sized table. Our conversation hadn’t been particularly profound, our language skills wouldn’t allow for this, but I always find that making new friends brings me so much joy and befriending Abdul and Hassan had been very delightful indeed!
Although I have had many more delights during my time here in Morocco, these six left considerable impressions on me and I’ll keep them with me for life.