Before going to Minnesota for school, I thought traffic in Taiwan, while not the most orderly in the world, is generally okay if you look out for yourself. Imagine my shock when a car stopped to let me cross the road in Minnesota. It took me a while to get used to not looking left and right for several times before crossing the street, and not running across the streets (it improved the last time I went back to Taiwan two years ago). Well, in Italy, people walk in the middle of the streets anyway, and cars generally will stop for pedestrian, no matter how unhappy they are to. Here in Morocco, traffic is scary. I mean sure there are traffic lights and police, but that doesn’t mean people driving the cars follow the rules. Taking a taxi to school and back home everyday, there has not been one trip during which I didn’t fear for my life. Oh, did I mention they don’t use seat belts (even though cars have them for obvious reasons)? It seems like driving is a way to get to places at the fastest time the driver determines to be acceptable, and Moroccans drivers somehow can navigate their cars (no matter how big the car is) very well, dodging cars, people, donkeys (or mules) at high speed. It really isn’t uncommon to have a car trying to change into the line you are in when there obviously is only about 5 feet of space between the car you are in and the one before yours.
Today we went to school almost late (good thing it only takes about 5 minutes by taxi to get to school). Our program includes 6 hours of survival Colloquial Moroccan Arabic (Darija) to help us get by in the 6 weeks we are here. Since the 6 of us on summer session II have 2 sets of schedule, our class has to be held at 12:30 pm. It was definitely useful though. Hopefully I will be able to understand my host-family more and more.
After school today, a group of us went across the street to the cafe to watch the game between Italy and Slovakia. Well, so much for being the defending champion, Italians probably are not very happy at this moment (this is probably an understatement). I had a crepe for the first time. It was a plate of chocolaty goodness (see picture below). I also met a Moroccan who studies English at ALIF and became friends with him on Facebook. He is really curious about us and English language, and taught us some words in Darija.
The same group of us later went into the medina to stroll around and see if there’s anything of interest. I finally found out the occupation of my host-father, who owns a babouche (Moroccan leather slippers) shop (more of a small cubicle in the market place) in the medina. I have to say that the group of us sticks out in the medina like white paint on a black shirt. I am Asian, my roommate is African-American, and we were with a girl who is Caucasian and wearing a sleeveless short (not a very good idea if you are female and alone in Morocco). There aren’t not many (rare, if not none) Asian in Morocco, my roommate’s skin color is darker than pretty much everyone else’s on the street (and people keep saying Obama to him), and guys don’t usually walk with girls unless they are married. Adding onto the eye-catching, we were also walking with two of our host-brothers, with my roommate holding on the youngest brother’s hand. Everyone was watching when we walked by, definitely not something I would experience in the US. Diversity abroad? Check.