The last week of Morocco was one of the most eventful, apart from the train fire of course…nothing can top that.
On Friday after the weekly couscous dinner, I went to Tanger with another American student who had been staying at the same host family. We took the train and arrived in Tanger at night. She was part of an SIT program, and they were in the research phase of their semester. That meant that they were pretty much on their own and could set their own schedules. I stayed at her Airbnb and we spent all of Saturday exploring the city and getting “lost” in the Medina. We went into an empty restaurant that looked like a hole in the wall but turned out to have an amazing view of the city and great food. It felt really refreshing to be in another city, and enjoy another part of Morocco. From Tanger we could actually see Spain, and if we wanted we could’ve taken a ferry to Spain (which was mind-boggling to me–45 minutes and we would have been on a different continent!). I left Tanger on Saturday and got back to Rabat in time to go out with the APA crew at Le Dhow. Le Dhow is a restaurant/ club that is a boat on the river separating Rabat and Sale. We had heard mixed reviews about the place, and it lived up to our luke-warm expectations. We did not like the music at all (there was no diversity, just electro), but it was a good experience seeing what going out in Morocco is like, despite the fact that the boat is a very touristy place.
The day before we left for Paris, I was finally able to enjoy Rabat. As I briefly mentioned before, I hadn’t really had time to explore Rabat as I was always either in school or at home. However, on the last day, I made plans to go to a Hammam with my host mom as well as some last minute shopping. I started the day with breakfast with my host mom and host dad. It was the usual–tea and Moroccan bread that you could either dip in honey or olive oil. A little before noon, my host mom and I headed out into the Medina to go to a Hammam. It was rainy and cold, so it was a relief to be in a steamy and HOT room. It was my first experience in a public bath, and I didn’t really know what to expect. My host mom had brought some of the essential supplies from home: her own soap, a scrub mitt, a small plastic jug, shampoo and conditioner. The first step was to scrub ourselves with Morrocan black soap. The consistency was really interesting, it was almost like taffy. There were a few awkward moments where my host mom was scrubbing away her dead skin and I was just sitting next to her not knowing what to do. Eventually, a lady who worked at the Hammam came up to me and started to scrub my body. The soap that we had used had somehow makes all skin peel (magic!) and as the lady was scrubbing me I felt like the cleanest I have ever been. When I stepped out of the Hammam, I felt amazing with my shiny new skin (is that how it works?). The other girls were also at a Hammam during this time, as we all had been too busy during the week to go. After the Hammam, I had my last Morrocan meal with my host family, which was a delicious vegetable tagine. After lunch was shopping time! I needed to buy gifts for family and friends, and I ended up using up all my remaining dirhams. We shopped until the sun went down, and I spent the rest of the night packing and writing one of my final essays.
We left the Medina at 4am to go to the airport and arrived in Paris around 10. Since we had a 22 hour (or something close to that) layover, APA booked a hotel for us to stay in. Even though it was about an hour away from Paris, we still had half of the day to explore Paris and get a taste of Western life before we flew to Senegal. I spent the day in Châtelet with a friend I had met in the city, and it reminded me of what I great time I had in Paris. It was also heartwarming to see Christmas decorations, especially since we already missed Halloween and was going to spend Thanksgiving away from home. We left the hotel at 6 in the morning to catch our 9 am flight to Senegal but barely made it on the flight because there was a medical emergency. Someone in the group was feeling extremely bad, to the point where she could not walk and was in need of a wheelchair. We didn’t want to leave her alone, but APA did not want us all to miss our flights. The other problem was that it was extremely hard obtaining a wheelchair because apparently it had to be provided by the airline and not the airport itself. By some miracle we all made it on the plane, and six hours later, we were in Dakar!
It was a crazy few days, but I personally felt so relieved to be in the last portion of the program. All the traveling was catching up to me and it was comforting to know that this was the last major change we were going to experience. I was also super excited to see my host family and real family again! More on Dakar next week!