Sand, Sea, and the Great Unexpected

Oh my goodness guys, bombshell imminent!! I could tell you menial things like the fact that we had ragees for breakfast after making them at cooking club yesterday, or that Billy is feeling better (which is actually good news), but we’ve all frankly forgotten everything that happened before 8:30 this morning.
Yesterday we were told to assemble at school for a meeting of all students and staff for 8:30am, the subject of which even the teachers didn’t know. It turns out, the government needs this property for some reason, nobody knows. And as a result, they are probably coming into school today to close it. Yes, really. We will be continuing classes in a different place, but the next two days are, like Elvis, going to be “All Shook Up”. I mainly feel bad for all the people that have committed their whole summers to studying here. It’s amazing of them to be so excited and brave to want to learn this language, and having everything change, having to spend more money either on food here or on a new flight home, is, to many of them, devastating. The school has been amazing in getting the transition sorted and still being so supportive, but a few of us still think that we should ship out a gaggle of Sussex students to make a ring around the building and fight the Moroccan police with ouds when they come to take us away!
Anyway, on to the more exciting events of the day then. Well, maybe not more exciting, but certainly more fun! Billy and James go home tomorrow (sad times), so to make the most of the time we have left, after class today, we went to the beach. No, not the same one we were mobbed and hassled at, but having learned our lesson, we went to a beach much further away, near a little town called Temara. To get there took 3 legs – Petit Taxi (all blue Fiats by the way. Cute.) to a neighbourhood called Geish Oudaya. This neighbourhood is much more like the traditional rural Morocco you might expect. Despite the many abandoned high-rise building projects we passed on the road, the whole place is residential, with a little supermarket (like a big indoor souq stall) on the central corner, and lots of cafes selling coffee to men glued to the wide-screen football-showing televisions. Aside from that, the smell was altogether more, well, ripe, since there were several horse-and-carts around to ferry people to the next town. These had bright orange tassels hanging from the roof of the carriage, they were papered inside with what appeared to be floral lino, and the horses were eating what appeared to be sand, but later turned out to be not-quite-enough cornmeal. Maybe the drivers should be charging more than 2 dirhams (about 7p) per person. Anyway, all five of us squeezed into one of these contraptions, and sallied forth to the next town, from where we caught a Temara Petit Taxi (turquoise Fiats this time) to the beach. This beach was altogether nicer. We got some stares, of course, but soaking up the rays on the sand after a dip in the lovely blue water, we were perfectly safe, mainly because we blended in better than usual. Is it just me, or have you noticed that on pretty much every beach in the world, everybody behaves the same, and almost looks the same too. Why is that? Weird. There is probably a government-issue International Manual for Regular Beach Activity available somewhere. Anyway, as I say, doing usual beach things, there were no issues. The interest came when all three of us girls wanted to change. We thought the best way to hide everything was to make a towel-tent. Over the total time, we really became rather good: one of us squatted down, amd the others held three towels around us, and one over the top. Perfect. Except that this exhibition is not to be found in the International Manual for Regular Beach Activity. And thus, everybody stared, and most that stared laughed. However, leaving the beach with dignity intact (say nothing…), we wandered off to find a Grand Taxi back to Geish Oudaya, and a restaurant. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. A Grand Taxi works more like a bus than a taxi. You have to catch it from a specific point to a specific point, and though it can fit six, you usually agree a price before you get in for your group to get where you want to go. Sounds fine. But the snag comes in the “agreeing a price before you get in” bit. We were already foreign which didn’t help our effort to blend in, but a group of five white people discussing a taxi price in a mix of Fosah and French with two or three Grand Taxi drivers was enough of a spectacle to draw a crowd. About forty people in Temara, it seems, think that taxi-hailing is a spectator sport. Great. After some hard bargaining by Alice the Power Shopper, we managed to fix a price (James paid for us all and wouldn’t let us pay him back. Gentleman.) and all get in. You know I said that Grand Taxis can fit six? It’s all lies. Four of us shoehorned into the back seat, and with no way of winding down the windows, it was quite snug. Just to make the attention complete, Alice got an offer of marriage through the window before we drove off. I just wonder what he expects her to do! “Oh ok then let me phone my parents and we’ll get it sorted! Where can I get a dress around here?” Perhaps not.
Before we ate, we went back to James and Billy’s host family’s house so they could change and whatever else men do before they go out. That meant that we met their host mum and sister, who were really lovely, got to sample some hilawayaat (pastry sweets) which I nearly took from the plate with my left hand (BIG no-no by the way) but which were delicious, and got to see a beautiful Moroccan home, with the tiled walls and padded benches and wooden tables. After this, the hunt for a cafe began. After walking up one road twice, taking a wrong turn, and sitting down twice before realising that they didn’t do food, we settled in a little place called Cafe Sinastra for coke and pizza. Ordering the pizza was an issue, and we nearly got fish pizza by accident (yes, really. Vom.), but eventually got food and drink that was made all the more acceptable by the presence of WiFi, good friends, and a happy maitre d’ who asked to have his photograph taken with us at the end of the meal. What a cutie.
So, a full full full and really lovely day, so we’re all ready for a nice relaxing mid-term exam tomorrow. Oh no wait…


I am a final year BA International Relations student at Sussex University, and I'm also studying the Arabic Language Elective Pathway. Alongside this, I am acting as a Student Language Ambassador, in hopes of convincing the world that a language is a beautiful thing :)

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2 comments on “Sand, Sea, and the Great Unexpected
  1. Amira Mills says:

    So you will not be in the same place anmore, where are the new premises then? Do you also have to change your flat?

    • Aimee Mccallum says:

      No, our accommodation remains the same 🙂
      If we are moved we will have classes in Mohamed Cinq university in Agdal, but it looks like we will be staying for the time being 🙂

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