Brains, Floods and an Unexpected Sense of Home: Here’s looking at you, Casablanca

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Two weekends ago, T. and I were invited to my protégé’s house in Casablanca. Armed with school-made sandwiches, bookstore cookies and bulky luggage, T., Darling and I embark on the quest for a Meknes-bound grand taxi. Mingling sweat and air with a farty passenger in the backseat, I spend the ride alternating my face between my hands and laundry detergent-scented clothes. Desperately I look toward Café Oxygen, an oasis situated somewhere between Meknes and Ifrane.

After 45 minutes, we stumble into the Meknes train station and run to the Casa-bound train. T., who hates sweets, surprises everyone by eating chocolate cookies. She and Darling watch an Indian film while I torture myself through a shoemaker’s account of the American Revolution for my Mizzou U.S. History class. We travel down the mountain, ears popping and stopping quickly in Kenitra, the home of Morocco’s death row. Two hours to Casablanca.

As the sky darkens, we speed past Rabat. Listening to Phoenix’s bittersweet “1901,” I watch the capital become a glow of light streaks and shadows. We finally arrive in Casa. Darling’s father brings us to their spacious home, where Darling’s parents stuff us with a multi-course meal. They’re the type of people who make you feel at home within a half hour of arriving: Darling’s mother speaks Tagalog with T., everyone makes fun of us and we feel completely at ease.

We sleep in beds covered in newsprint sheets, carrying headlines proclaiming “A World Without Oil” and “Meantime, World Wants in Agony of Suspense.” Despite my lack of journalism courses at Al Akhawayn, I feel I’m learning something here.

We spend the next day running around the medina:

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And exploring downtown.

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Strangely, the city feels a lot like Leipzig, and I’m immediately at home.

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In a restaurant nestled among lingerie shops and Maroc Telecom promotional models, T., Darling and I eat sausage and brain sandwiches.

DSCN0686Don’t try the brain.

We then explore the reflective Hassan II mosque, where I put a curse on the weather by going into the women’s section as a non-Muslim.

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We explore the luxurious Morocco Mall and its incredible food choices. (Tip: don’t go to the Lebanese place. I don’t know what they put in this, but their Baba Ghannouch is not Baba Ghannouch.)

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‘Mericuh!

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Seriously, bro. They have an aquarium. And an ice rink. And a whole Ralph Lauren store. Very comparable to Lebanon’s ABC.

The next day, the skies open. Through driving rain, Darling’s sister and mother help T. and I tailor our medina djellabas at the muddy, flooded market. We eat pizzas and sandwiches near Darling’s house, say our goodbyes to his lovely family and narrowly catch a horribly crowded train back to Meknes.

DSCN0751 We finally arrive in the mountains. A grand taxi navigates thick nocturnal tendrils of mist, and I sing “Requiem for a Dream” in my head because it just fits too perfectly. After cooking spaghetti in Building 39’s student lounge, we separate into our gender-segregated rooms and drift off to sleep, starring in each other’s dreams.




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