À la Capitale: my move to Rabat

It’s just after 9am, and here is a list of some of the things I’ve already done this morning:

  • Watched the moon set and the sun rise – somehow I fell asleep at 8:30 last night, so I was up crazy early!

Continue reading

In the interim: the summer in Morocco

Wow. So yesterday I wrote this whole post about how I was feeling so incredibly lost, and now this morning I woke up and felt so incredibly found. I knew it sounds so cliche, but it really feels like I wasn’t the one doing the work; like something just clicked and it had nothing to do with me.

I’m back in Asilah, for what, the fourth time? Nothing felt any different when I arrived last night, but this morning I went out to buy bread, and as I’m walking down this quiet tree-lined street, I lean down to pet this cat. And while it may not be an Essaouira cat, it was still pretty cute, and miles ahead of any el jadida cat (they’re the worst). But it was somehow at that moment that I realized that this is where I’m meant to be. I feel like I’m writing something out of EatPrayLove right now, harnessing my inner Liz Gilbert, but it’s true. I just walked around with this stupid grin on my face, falling in love with this town, and now I’m just hoping I can figure out some way to make this all work.

Cause here’s the deal: I had two interviews. And I got two jobs! Continue reading

On the way: getting to Morocco

I started writing something on the plane, trying to capture all the whirlwind that was landing this job and landing in this country. But I kind of abandoned it and didn’t pick it back up when I got reconnected, and now I’m having trouble finding its flow.

So I’m offering this: it was mayhem. I didn’t know up from down by the time I was finally heading out. And it really didn’t finally sink in until I boarded my flight to Casablanca: an hour delayed boarding, with no explanation; a mad shuffle to board at that time, regardless of what rows were actually being called; and the sounds of crying children heard over the blaring Arabic music on board. Announcements made in Arabic, French, and then (thankfully) English.

(click a photo to view gallery)

So then I arrived (only 2 hours late). “The Man” (who turned out to be just a hired driver, I later found out) was holding a piece of paper with my name on it. The other new teacher, who was also to be my roommate, had arrive before I did, and was waiting with him. We drove to our school only to pick up the keys, and then were dropped off somewhat abruptly at our new apartment. It’s a nice place, but despite the warm colour scheme (our living room and hallways are orange), it’s a lot cooler than I was hoping; it’s all tile and the walls are this glazed stucco kind of stuff, so everything feels very cold and modern. Again, very nice, but a different style than the gypsy-Arabia-mosaic-Bohemian style of most hostels I’m used to; it’ll take some work to warm it up.

There’s a decent sized kitchen with a fridge and stovetop, but it’s not yet hooked up. I’m wondering if I should try to connect the propane bottle myself, but decided against it; I’ll probably blow myself up. There’s a hot water tank, which we plug in, because we both certainly could use a shower. There is a nice living room, and two bedrooms. I am chagrined to find out that there are sheets on the bed; the only thing I had been told explicitly to bring with me (which caused a hurried trip to Ikea the night before I left, and took up a substantial amount of space in my bag!). At least these ones I brought with me are nicer, and luckily match my blue room quite nicely.

There’s food in the fridge, and pasta on the shelves, but again, we have no way to cook them. So we head out. I’ve never been to this town before, let alone this neighbourhood, but thankfully the main road is around the corner, and we easily locate the lunch spots. However, it’s an awkward time of day to be eating, around 3 pm, so most real food is already gone. There’s no wifi at the house yet, and I definitely want to get connected, so we decide to brave the city centre and wave down a cab.

My french is surprisingly good; I mean, not good good. But totally functional. I’m impressed; I didn’t think I was getting by that well. So, off we go. We still don’t really find a solid lunch, but I’m happy because I did manage to get my hands on some red mzemen; a flakey flatbread kind of thing, with cooked onions and peppers inside. Soooo good. We have some tea, and my roommate (first time in Morocco) orders some cow’s bone with chickpeas (obviously not what she was expecting, but I thought she would get the drift when I said that I didn’t want it, and she should look at it again to make sure she was on board). She picked, I ate. We left.

I got my phone hooked up at INWI with a Zen International plan, but we held off on getting a modem until we found out how the reception is at our place (turns out, it’s great. However, our boss suggests we go with Maroc Telecom for wifi, but as that process is going to take a while, I’m using my phone as a hotspot for now).

We headed home, and ended up skipping dinner since we ate so late for lunch. But when we get there, we are surprised to find that our place was freezing. I mean, there was snow on the ground when I left, and I’m complaining about the +10 in Morocco, but seriously, life without central heating is not a life worth living. I don’t know how people do this. It took us two days to get space heaters, and let me tell you, those were a long two days.

 

Celebratory Christmas Couscous

So, things around here have been fairly quiet. For more than a year, I have struggled to find my path – trying for months to get something, anything, with an international NGO. Then – in desperation – I decided to enroll into a 10-month postgraduate program at Humber College in Toronto. I moved to the big city, worked back at my old agency for the summer, but ultimately decided that the back-to-school plan still wasn’t actually the right fit. Toronto wasn’t for me, and neither was the idea of spending $10k on something that really had no guarantees – there is nothing that says it would be the ticket into the development world.

But still, I needed out. I needed a plan to make this happen – I need out of this Western lifestyle, and I can’t afford to keep jaunting around on my own dime. I need this to be sustainable. And believe it or not, part of me does crave some stability.

Enter: TEFL. Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Brilliant. Why haven’t I thought of this sooner? Teaching English doesn’t have to be just a way for young kids to fund their SE Asian party-tour. It can also be a way to get somewhere I want to be, afford to live there, learn new skills, and maybe actually contribute something! And immediately, I knew I wanted to go to Morocco; the climate, the culture, the language, the food, the beaches, and the hammam – oh god, the hammam.

So I bought an online package, and started studying.

It took me about 2 months to complete (longer than anticipated) and honestly (& ironically), it didn’t teach me all that much about how to teach. Really, I learned more about how not to teach, but I suppose that’s nearly just as good.

Then I found a job posting that I really wanted. A well known institution with a good reputation in a great little coastal town that I’ve heard only amazing things about.

On December 9, I applied.
On Dec. 10, I heard back.
Dec. 11, I had my first interview.
Dec. 13, a request to submit references and a sample lesson plan.
Dec. 16, second interview.
Dec. 17, contract in hand.
Jan. 3, I fly to Casablanca.

8 days. Just 8 little days to go from “Oh man, I hope this works out. I really want this to work out. I need this to work out. I can’t spend another 7 months stuck here.” to “Holy sh*t, it’s happening. It’s actually happening. It worked out. I’m really going!”

And 15 days later, I’ll be off.

So in the meantime, not only is it Christmas, when everyone and everywhere is hectic and busy, but now I’m scrambling to see everyone and get everything I might need (which oddly includes a set of sheets. Why I can’t get them there, I’m not sure, but it’s been suggested to me twice by my director, so I’ll be damned if I’m not bringing them with me.) Criminal record checks, translations of my degree into French, booking flights, stocking up on my favourite products, baking treats for my dad – all things I’m getting done in the days before and after Christmas. Feeling a bit frantic.

And also, my heart is heavy with these goodbyes. I’m hopping around, trying to see everyone I can in this ultra-busy time. I welcome anyone and everyone to come visit, but I know that it’ll be a while until I see some of these faces again. I’m obviously thrilled about this next step, but it does always come at a cost.

So for now, as I put that aside, it does call for some celebratory couscous. My favourite. And soon to be my staple. I can’t wait.