This morning (Friday) Colby and I went to ALIF to use the computers and then decided we wanted to go on a day trip to Ifrane, which is about 65 kilometers away from Fes. To get there, we needed to take a grand taxi from the CTM station. We walked to the Super Marché and asked three or four people how to get to the CTM station. We finally gave up and took a taxi. At the station, there are about twenty white Mercedes and twenty loud men to go with them. We told one of them that we wanted to go to Ifrane and he yelled it out to all the other drivers. We waited about half an hour for another four passengers to fill the five seat car: three in the front row and four in the back so nice and cozy in the steaming hot car. (Mom and Dad please disregard this next part). We took off in the highway as we twisted and turned at 100 mph and I swear we got some air after hitting a bump. Of course, seat belts are only cosmetic accessories in the cars and are not used and you’ll get a weird look if you reach for it.
Once in Ifrane, we got off and started walking around. Right away we noticed the temperature which was cooler than Fes because it is much higher altitude. In the winter it snows, so all the houses are constructed differently than in Fes. It is pretty European and resembles the architecture of Switzerland. Colby and I walked around the town and bravely entered a café where we got looks as if we were aliens. We are aware that usually women do not go to the cafes, especially foreign women, but we were desperately in need of coffee and sat in a corner so the staring was minimal. After, we found a nice pond with lots of shade and we sat there for a while and then walked for a while longer and found a stream that we could wade in. The cold water was AMAZING. Walking back to the bus station, we got more stares from men, but they did not call out to us. Colby pointed out that not many Western women come to Ifrane, which is a small town and that the staring was most likely out of awe. That made me feel better for the moment. After another 100+ mph ride home, we staggered around the city until we found an internet café, gave up because the keyboards were French, and caught a taxi ride home. We were exhausted, badly sun burnt, and in desperate need of a shower. The last thing we wanted to do was face the bucket shower that we had seen the day before.
After cooling off and having a snack, I faced the shower. It is basically a bucket that you fill with (thankfully) hot water and then use a bowl to rinse yourself off. Keep in mind that the bathroom is a 6 by 6 foot cement square right off of the kitchen with a sketchy drain in the middle. Although it sounds savage and awfully dirty, it worked like a charm. I was actually really surprised and that made my outlook on the next six weeks improve. After my shower, I sat down in the living/dining/family/everything room to read and talk with Fatimah and Mohammad (the mother and father). Until today, Mohammad has said about two words to us. All of a sudden, he seemed determined to teach us Arabic. I learned the word for delicious which is beneen (no clue how to spell it). This word proved useful to me because I used it to thank Fatimah for dinner (complete with a kiss of my fingers), the shower (they openly laughed at me for that one), and the roof which we realized is about 20 degrees cooler than the house. I also learned the word for sun and the names of about twenty spices that are growing on the roof. Mohammad decided to lecture me about food and Allah. Since he only speaks the Moroccan dialect, all I understood was that Allah is everywhere, especially in the food we eat. He also told me something about birds because I was sitting on the roof and apparently he wanted me to sit in a chair either because the birds cause your legs to be chopped off (he motioned this) or the ants are not good for your stomach. I’m not quite sure, but I’m just going to sit in the heart-shaped chair.
This morning I was set on finding a different host family because I had not slept well and was afraid of the bathroom. After conquering my fear of the bathroom, buying some Advil PM, and discovering the roof, I am a very happy girl. It is impossible to describe everything that I have seen and experienced, but I hope to tell you a little about my life in Fes. If you want to hear anything specific, such as the food, markets, or locals, let me know and I’ll definitely include it in a blog.