Since nothing that special happened today other from my regular routine, I thought I would write about some observations I have made here, and compare those to my observations in Italy.
First, Moroccans are very friendly, on the streets and at homes alike, but that doesn’t mean everything they do is in your interest. Most likely if someone approaches you on the street, he (almost always male in this case) wants to make money off you. Italians in comparison are more reserved toward people they don’t really know, even if they want to make money.
Second, every single person thinks an Asian is from Japan. I swear I haven’t lived through a day without hearing someone telling me “こんにちは(pronounced ‘konnichiwa’)” or “Japan?” since I got to Fez. It seems that certain stereotypes just exist, and the less contact between two cultures/regions have, the more simplified the stereotypes are. For example, when I was in Italy, at least someone asked me whether I am Chinese, which though still isn’t what I would call myself, at least it’s a different guess. However, here in Morocco, people associate persons with small eyes (such as myself) with Japan. It’s not that they never heard of other Asian countries, it’s probably that the most contact people here have with Asians is with Japanese tourists, despite that I have only seen a group of them once.
Third, traditional and modern ways coexist in Morocco (or at least in Fez). Walking on the street, you could see both women who are covered from head to toe, showing only the eyes, and women who wear Western style clothing and sometime show a lot more body parts than the traditional norm. Walking into a Moroccan home, the house may look magnificent, while having a squat toilet at the same time, or the house may be a part of a building in the old medina, but has a Western toilet. It’s really interesting to see all these differences and how people are dealing with living the two ways.
Last, the World Cup. Morocco didn’t qualify to compete in the World Cup and lost the bid for hosting to South Africa. Those are not stopping people from watching the World Cup and cheering for teams. As far as I could tell, Moroccans use geographical and historical aspects to decide which team to cheer for. For example, the game between the US and Algeria: pretty much all Moroccans were for Algeria, as it was the only team from the Al-Maghreb region (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) and the Arab World to compete. After Algeria lost, people turned their support to Ghana, which became the only team from Africa to compete in the second round. In addition, people also cheered for Spain during the game between Portugal and Spain, which I thought is because that Spain used to declared part of Morocco as its protectorate. I am still waiting to see which team people will cheer for in the event that countries with connection to Morocco are all eliminated. Should be very interesting…