By Cameron R., Guest Blogger learning Arabic in Morocco
I have come. I have seen. I have not yet conquered. I am now getting into my second week here in Morocco, and it is growing on me. I arrived in Rabat with a comparative eye. I had, over a year ago, tasted the Levantine region in the Middle East. Therefore, I, just by feelings, attachment, previous experience, and my mind's pattern recognition, had been comparing what was going on in Morocco to Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. I do not mean conflict. I mean cultural interactions, vibes and pulses and activities, language, and food.
Initially, I was not at all happy with Morocco, just a feeling of not living up to great expectations. I did not believe it had as much history as other Arabic countries. I did not see anything too different among the people that piqued my interest. I did not recognize any original Moroccan food besides the famous "cous cous." However, after a week, Morocco is growing on me. I am discovering the nuances and secrets. Tajeen, a delicious, common food among Moroccans, consists of slow-cooked vegetables, often with a chicken or beef, cooked in a sweet or savory flavor. Yet, you have to look in the right places. In some places, such as Agdal, or spelled "akdal" in Arabic transliteration, the prices for food will be higher than in taqaddam. Be weary of where you are. Of course, it depends on your budget. If you want to live frugally, then utilize the bus system, split taxis with two other people (three people maximum in local cabs), and calculate exchange rates. However, in general, al-Maghreb's cost of living is low.
I am beginning to see a prettier picture of Morocco now. I like the people more and more. From my experience in Morocco, the people are friendlier, haggle less, and do not care all that much about foreigners. However, I have heard different. I heard horror stories about computers being stolen, marriages between American girls and Moroccan men, or sickness from the water. Then again, who knows how true these statements are, but it is important to take them with a grain of salt. Yes, there is a hint of truth, but with a bit of common sense and wits about yourself, you should get along just fine. For example, do not carry a purse on your side, let alone a computer or a camera. Do not carry around more than 150 dirham, unless you know you are going to buy something more expensive. In other words, plan. Lastly, when you go shopping, make sure you take a Moroccan friend with you because if you do not have one, all of a sudden the price you will have to pay for toilet paper will have inflated by 100 percent.
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