In early March, I headed to the Fes airport filled with a mix of excitement and trepidation: dear readers, this would be the first time I visited my mom’s family, based in eastern Germany, since my somewhat tense exchange semesters there five years ago.
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 the Fes medina and tanneries, my friend and I were quite tired – so tired, in fact, that we almost missed the mass of tents that cropped up to our left as we drove back to Ifrane. When he noticed them, my friend began shouting incomprehensibly gesticulating and jumping as much as his seatbelt would allow him. Turns out we’d stumbled on a Fantasia, a traditional horseback musket shooting competition difficult to track down for those outside local circles. My friend has even traveled to Essaouira, quite a ways from Rabat, to attend one.
After scurrying through Fes’s medina – dodging children, talkative shopkeepers and barreling donkey carts all the while – my friend and I climbed a set of dark, steep stairs that led to a vast second-story leather shop. The place was filled with exquisite assortments of shoes, belts and bags.
Thursday, a friend and I headed to Fes stocked with chicken and cheese sandwiches, Paprika-flavored chips, multiple cameras and ambitious plans to explore Fes’s vast hillside medina.
Precisely at 7:10 Saturday morning, T. and I met up at the hallowed Building 34 (my dorm) to begin our journey to the center of Rabat. After walking to Ifrane, we found a grand taxi to take us to Meknes, where we hoped to catch the 9 o’clock train to Rabat. The grand taxi contained three boys. During the 45-minute trip, in which the driver consistently stayed between 20 and 50 kilometers above the speed limit, the boys played numerous Arab and explicit American rap songs, and T. almost threw up because of motion sickness at least once.
Every time I visit Al Akhawayn’s gym, I’m floored. The building boasts high ceilings, warm-colored wood and great mountain views. For those of you from Wisconsin, the place looks like a cross between the Lodge at Cedar Creek’s water park, Granite Peak’s ski chalet and Rib Mountain’s forest service building.