Taking in a little Berber before visiting the "Blue City"
This past week in Meknes has been incredibly hot with a low of 99°F and a high of around 108°F towards the end of the week. I felt like this heat has definitely been driving everyone up the wall in my guest house, especially during our class hours.
I, as well as my classmates, have felt completely drained this week due to the heat. Some of my friends in class were slowly nodding off into sleep, while I continued to drink my third 1.5 liter Sidi Ali during class to try and stay hydrated. The director of AALIM was even telling us that the heat that Africa and some of the Middle East was experiencing has been rather unusual and hasn’t been this intense in five years.
Ha, what timing … Glad I was able to experience it.
In the middle of the week, I was doing some work in my room, and my buddy popped his head in and said there was a small sandstorm and thunderstorm if we wanted to check it out. A few friends and I walked upstairs to the terrace where we usually eat lunch and we were able to see the small sandstorm from afar along with hearing a few rumbles of thunder.
The distant mountains I usually am able to see were hidden among the swirling clouds of dust and sand. After about ten minutes of standing on the terrace, it began to rain! It was the only rainfall I had experienced during my time here and it felt rather refreshing. I have grown accustom to such large amounts of rain while living in Bloomsburg. I almost forgot what it felt like!
On Thursday night, the NCUSAR had prepared a short lecture entitled “Linguistic Tapestries.” The lecture was presented by a native Berber speaker and she spoke about the Tifinagh, the series of abjad and alphabetic scripts used by some Berber peoples to write their languages. It was very interesting to learn about this unique Berber language, especially hearing it spoken, because it sounds nothing like Arabic!
The day trip to Chefchaouen takes first place this week. The only downside to this trip was the four hours that we had to spend sitting on a bus to and from Chefchaouen, but it was worth it. The town of Chefchaouen, also known as the “Blue City,” is a very quaint and quiet little town surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and enormous mountains.
Chefchaouen or Chaouen, as it is often called by Moroccans, is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to Tangier. Its name refers to the shape of the mountain tops above the town that look like the horns (chaoua) of a goat.
One extreme distinction that Chefchaouen possesses is its blue-rinsed houses and buildings. I was really able to grasp Chefchaouen’s blue, beautiful emanation from the top of the road as we were winding down into the town. However, the blue aura didn’t stop there. Almost every door, street, and wall was doused in stunning shades of blue. Absolutely beautiful.
Next weekend, I will be going on a camel excursion into the desert and camping out overnight with native Berbers. Unfortunately, it will be my last free weekend here in Morocco, as I will be returning home the following weekend. However, spending my final weekend here doing one of the things I really wanted to do during my time here in Morocco is definitely a plus. It should be a most memorable experience for me, and come next weekend, there will no doubt be a picture of me riding a camel in the desert!
Until then, bislaama and tahla frasik.
— Michael Curry, junior digital forensics major, Middle East studies and criminal justice minor