One of the streets of Casablanca
Casablanca is an absolutely gorgeous city. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to start my time here in Morocco. It was a 45 minute ride from the airport into the city proper. We got to our hotel around 12:30. The rest of Friday afternoon/evening was really our own to do as we pleased. I, like most of my fellow Americans, took that time to unwind and catch up on jet lag.
My room in the Prince de Paris Hotel
A couple of us did go out for a little bit to find something to eat and exchange money. Leaving around 2, we walked to the ATM that had been pointed out to us on the trip there. We found it just fine, but it was much taller than the ATMs we have in America. While we could still see the buttons fine, it was amusing having to reach up to hit them. Clearly the machine was designed without short American tourists in mind.
After sorting out finances, we began walking around trying to find a good place to eat. But as we realized later, it was a Friday. Friday is a big holy day in Morocco, and typically the only food served in couscous. Because of this, we wandered from restaurant to restaurant, looking for any place that had a menu. Since we didn’t understand much Arabic or French, we didn’t understand that the lack of food was citywide, rather than one or two places.
However, we did eventually come across a small shop that was open for food. As expected, it was serving couscous. Since there were only three of us, we ordered one plate of it. It was a good thing we did- we didn’t even finish it! But it was delicious, and a great introduction to Moroccan cuisine. The best part? It was 30 dirhams (about $3.75), which was then split three ways. The exchange rate is incredible here.
The Moroccan Dirhams: About 23 US Dollars Worth
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel. We napped for a few hours, and then had orientation for the program. Orientation was great–we have some incredible events and excursions planned these next few weeks. The staff at ISA clearly love their jobs. I can’t wait for the rest of the term! When orientation concluded, we ate dinner as a group. The food was this incredible 4 course meal of soup, pasta, chicken, and flan. Though we had eaten earlier in the day, I considered this dinner to be my first “official” Moroccan meal.
After dinner, the Summer 3 kids invited us Summer 2’s to go to a cafe. (A brief explanation: The Summer 3 students have already been here a month, participating in internships. When us Summer 2 students arrived Friday, we joined into one big group to begin classes at Moulay Ismail.) Since they have already been here several weeks, they took us under their wing and shared with us a lot of good advice about Morocco. This included an introduction to mint tea! Or, as it’s often said here, tea a la menthe. Tea and coffee both are a large part of the culture here, and a part that I love! Those of you that know me in the States know how much I drink coffee and tea. Though admittedly, I did try to wean myself off coffee before coming here–no caffeine withdrawal for this girl! I have been drinking a lot more tea than coffee. G has been too–she can’t get enough of the mint tea! She’s even learned the correct way to pour it and all the cultural idioms associated with it. I must admit, I’m considering buying a teapot. We’ll see. Until next time! Ma’ assalama! Goodbye!