So! It’s been a while. I got back yesterday from a trip to Morocco, my first visit back since I lived there in 2007/2008. There was a conference in Rabat, and I stayed an extra week to see Taza, Fes, and Casablanca. Every single person in Fes remembered me, name and all – at first I thought the guy coming up and saying “I know you! You bought a hat from me 4 years ago!” was a scam, but no actually they just have really amazing memories. I also met the littlest Faux Guide – he was maybe 10 years old, and I saw him 3 days in a row in totally different parts of town. His introduction started with “Remember me?”
The conference was all right, although it was entirely in French. I was jetlagged, and had trouble staying awake in the morning; the monotone french industrial chemistry presentations really didn’t help. But it turns out that if I’m fading away to sleep, my brain automatically turns foreign words into the closest sounding english word. So I start falling asleep, and then I start hearing all of this gibberish English.
I should have traveled first, and THEN gone to the auction – it took 3 or 4 days to get back into Arab mode. I was a stuttering dunce at the conference, but after a couple of days, my Arabic was good enough that as soon as I said hello, people assumed I was fluent and just jabbered away at me. I’d kill to have a Moroccan that speaks to me the way I speak to the Chinese dude at work: slowly and clearly.
I got evangelized again, most prominently by a guy who insisted on standing within 2 inches of my face while trying to convert me. For the first time during all my Morocco trips, though, a Moroccan got exasperated and told him to be quiet, I wasn’t going to convert.
Anyway! I took notes during my trip. Not all of them… make sense to me now. So here’s the scraps of the notes:
1) For some reason I wrote down “This music sounds like the score to a snuff film directed by Mama Cass”. I have no idea what I was referring to.
2) “I wouldn’t say that the hotel [in Taza] was dirty, but when I woke up, the bed was gone and there was a note on the nightstand telling me to get tested for transmittable diseases.”
3) The Muezzin in Taza isn’t actually a person, it’s a whole flock of chickens standing on each other’s shoulders inside a trench coat. But he’s well educated, he has a degree from the Cairo Institute for the Deaf. (What I’m trying to say is that the Muezzin in Taza was the screechiest, most terrible Muezzin in the Maghreb.)
4) There was also a Tunisian who complained that there were traffic-blocking strikes in Tunis now. “Now we have too much freedom!” He said. So I guess there’s a 1 % over there as well.