Friday, November 15, 2013

Day Six: Rabat

We were treated to a late start today. Our first meeting wasn't until 1 pm, when we were scheduled to have lunch with a representative of the program sponsor. So I made it to the gym this morning. I did have some French-related mishaps to start the day:

  1. I tried to ask at the front desk if I was supposed to have coffee/tea making items in the box for such items in my room (next to the keurig-like thing). That box was empty. However, the ladies at the front desk just seemed to think I wanted to order tea from room service, so I gave up.
  2. Two bottles of water in the room. Two, different bottles of water in the room. Just assumed they were mismatched. Learned the hard way when I brought the bottle of fizzy mineral water with me to the gym.
Side note: all these French issues are also Arabic issues, as I would be able to function just fine here if I knew either language. I am just painfully aware of the French issues because, in theory, I once knew French.

Lunch meeting went great. Learned later that we had lunch with a local celebrity. The program sponsor brought a local radio personality with him, who is apparently quite popular.

Embassy meeting in the afternoon also went extremely well. Our main point of contact was out sick, but we still had a productive talk.

After our meetings we headed to the medina via taxi. The taxi driver seemed pretty pissed about our inability to communicate. I said we wanted to go to the medina and, when pressed further, said the Grand Mosque would be fine, as it was in the middle on the map. Twice he stopped in traffic to yell to passers-by to find someone that spoke "anglais." The second time he found someone to whom we told we wanted to shop and eat in the medina.

Side note: Taxis around here are often as not likely to stop and pick up another passenger even if they already have one in the car. The new passenger just determines if the car is already going in a direction they want and if they are willing to make this other stop first. As it turns out, it is also more appropriate for a potential passenger to check with a driver of even empty vehicles to see if the driver is going his or her way before getting in.

When our driver last stopped we thought he was picking up an extra passenger, but instead he was just kicking us out a little bit before our destination. Both he and the new passenger tried to convey to us where we should walk, and they must have been successful since we eventually found ourselves in the medina.

After some initial concern it was just narrow streets filled with plastic crap from China we were able to find some shopping opportunities. I was in search of prizes and other materials for the summer program and the boss was looking for gifts.

Two thing of note in the medina: 
  1. The surprising number of shops that had enormous pigs feet (seriously, how big must these pigs be?) hanging in the window given we were in what I assume is a predominately Muslim country. Ah, yes, I just confirmed with the internets, 99.9% Muslim. Even if pork wasn't haram, who the hell wants to eat all these giant feet?
  2. What appeared to be simmering or smoking or something cow heads seemed to be some sort of street food option that may or may not have involved making pita pockets from cow head meat.
More later.

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