Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A no sabi Arabic.

Hello ALL!
I’m BACK!  I just got back from Morocco yesterday and had a great time.  My main purpose for travelling there (as I said in my last post) was to get some dental work done.  The dentist performed a root canal and placed a permanent crown on my tooth.  Yes, I got a root canal in Africa!! – that’s one to tell the grandkids, right?
(The Hassan Tower)

Rabat was a great city to visit.  Coincidentally, my one Peace Corps friend, Jared, was also being medically evacuated to Rabat at the exact same time, so it was nice to have a buddy to explore the city with.  We indulged on the traditional dishes, like tajines, pastillas, and harira.  We also might have snuck in a couple of trips to the gelato stands.  It was wonderful to eat so many meats, cheeses, and veggies, yum!  Beeeesides the food, we walked around to most of the popular sites, like the Hassan Tour, the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the Chellah, the Royal Palace, the Kasbah and my favorite, the Medina.  No, not my town, Madina, but the Medina of Rabat.  I can’t wait to tell my Sierra Leonean friends I went to another (a BIT more touristy) Madina.  It’s a walled off area with a bunch of shops, traders, and food stands.   You can find all of your Moroccan tapestries, pottery, and Argan oil to take back to your love ones… or hoard them all for yourself.

(Cous cous on Fridays!)

In fact, I got into a little bit of trouble at a beauty shop.  Wellll, we had a bit of a communication problem while in Morocco.  Everyone knew Arabic and most people knew French… and, well, very few people spoke English.  For Jared and myself, we don’t know Arabic, we don’t know French, and we can get by with our English. ; )  I was trying to buy something small for my girlfriends back in Salone.  In this particular beauty shop, there was a large dish filled with what looked like dirt.  The saleswoman didn’t speak a word of English and when I pointed to the dirt she kept on touching her hair.  In my twisted interpretation of her gesture, I concluded the dirt was some natural, organic hair strengthening powder.  Sooo I bought ten packages.  I told her to write the name of the product, so I could go back and confirm my great find.  Turns out “hana cheveux” is henna for your hair.  You know henna?  You know the plant that dyes your skin, hair, and nails orange?  Yep, well that’s what I ended up buying.  I thought it would be great fun to give the gift to my girlfriends and tell them the dirt was indeed a natural, organic hair strengthening powder.  Lucky for them I’m not THAT mean.  Fortunately for me, I met a volunteer from Benin who knew French and could go back to the beauty shop with me to exchange the henna for something a little more practical.

I wish I could have gotten a nickel for every time I embarrassed myself in Rabat.  Most of the incidents had to deal with miscommunication or rather just a lack of communication.  It was such a strange experience to be a foreign country and not knowing the language.  I’m used to be surrounded by Sierra Leoneans who speak Krio and unfortunately “aw di bodi?” wasn’t going to get me too far in Morocco.  Embarrassingly enough I broke out in Krio a couple times.  We were at McDonald’s (they have a McDonald’s!) and I was trying to ask for ketchup.  I MIGHT have said, “Yu de ketchup?”  And if the employee was Sierra Leonean he would have understood me, but sadly, he was Moroccan and just gave me a quizzical expression.


Oh, life is funny!  After two weeks, I was anxious to come back to Sweet Salone.  As soon as I stepped off the airplane, I was comforted by the warmth and familiar smells of West Africa.  The first person I interacted with was the man checking my passport and of course, he hit on me.  Then, I go to the next person who checked my WHO card and he reeked of palm wine.  Perfect, I was back home!!  Oddly enough, both encounters made me feel like I was in the right place.
It’s amazing how somewhere that seems so different and foreign at first can be molded into a place of comfort and familiarity.  For me, America seems like the strangest place in the world now.  But soon I’ll be back in Lady Liberty’s arms as my service is quickly coming to an end.  Only six more months here!  It’s really hard to believe and it doesn’t seem like enough time.  I still have some things I want to accomplish in Sierra Leone and hope time permits.  I’m looking forward to what Salone still has to offer me.  BRING. IT. ON.
Byes for meow!
“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” - Steve Martin 
P.S.  You can "lef" Salone, but Salone can't "lef" you.

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