It really hasn’t sunk in that this morning was our last class, and our last time at Qalam wa Lawh. I keep thinking back to our first morning when we realised with a shudder that we had to order breakfast completely in Arabic… Wow how much difference three weeks can make! I could go on about how I’ve matured and grown and how I’ve had such an amazing time, but I’ll save that for the tomorrow’s post that will invariably become mushy. Instead, I’ll tell you about our final trip to the souq that we had today.
The souq is an amazing place. It basically packs everybody and everything about the city into 2 square miles. If you’re ever in a Middle Eastern country and you want to taste the culture of the city, and even the whole country, get yourself to the souq. Today was the first time we’d experienced the souq at Ramadan, and though the people of Rabat aren’t eating during the day, we walked through Bab Boubiba straight into swarms of people around food stalls! Our teacher explained this to us yesterday though, and it’s not as weird as you might think. Do you remember when we had that meeting in school about going to uni, and amidst all the practical points they tell you “don’t do your grocery shopping when you’re hungry”. Same basic principal. So, all these people are shopping for Iftar, feeling hungry, so buying up entire stalls of bread, pastries, and dried fruit. Pushing through those aromatic crowds was quite a slow process, but seeing the jumble of stalls was well worth the heave. We walked past several of the tackier clothes and scarf stalls, and right in the middle of them all was a stall selling rows and rows of pigs trotters, with some of the offal hanging on silver meat hooks beside it. The smell wasn’t that great. After we’d got past the food stalls though, the crowds subsided and we could walk a but more easily. It was by no means chilled, but it was actually possible to stop and go at will. We did more of the same shopping process too – spot the thing, ask the price, scoff, get offered lower, keep scoffing until you get the price you want, pay, leave. Brilliant. But the shopping bit actually isn’t the most fun, it’s the being there and looking and experiencing it all. Have you ever been to a marginally organised jumble sale? Or maybe a car boot sale is a better example. Except literally no space between them. The souq is basically a maze of narrow streets with various wares covering every wall so you actually can’t tell the paint colour underneath. Tables are stationed in front, or walls erected to demark each territory, and the sound of the vendors and smell of spices follow you everywhere. It’s genuinely manic, but you can’t not enjoy the enormous plate-glass window it gives you into the way Morocco is.
We just returned from our final dinner out at Morocco’s equivalent of Nando’s – Coq Magique. We finished our meal and were walking home at about 11pm, and excepting the darkness, the streets genuinely felt like Brighton does around Churchill Square on a Saturday. Families with kids, people clustering around the ice cream parlour, clothes boutiques still lit up and selling… It’s so surreal, amd really unexpected! But the atmosphere is pretty nice really, and I’m so pleased that we got to sample it before we left.
Anyway, I’m off to bed to prepare for a full trip back tomorrow. By that, I mean sleeping, and charging my phone. Such a creature of my generation!
Goodbye for the penultimate time,