Memories from my stay in Morocco
On the 27th of august I arrived the in a small airport near Rabat where my Arabic adventure would take place. My name is Louise Nørreslet Gimsing and I’m from Denmark. I have spent one month in Rabat doing a medical project with Projects Abroad. The day I arrived was a special day. In Islam it’s the day, where the Quran was revealed by God and given to the prophet Mohammed. It’s also called The Night of Destiny. My host family celebrated it with a big breakfast at seven o’clock, at sunset, and with an even more lavish diner at ten thirty, after sunset. Pancakes, pain au chocolat, dates, cous cous, eggs, and among other things a special soup called Harira, were served. This was the beginning of some great meals with many more to come.
Like the other volunteers in Rabat, I lived with a Moroccan family in the old part of town, the Medina. The first thing the father of the family said to me was: “Bonjour, fais comme chez toi”, which meant that I should feel like home. And I did. I’ve been feeling like a temporary member of this family. Eating dinner with them, being asked how was my day was, and participated as any family member, when friends and family came to visit. At the same time I was able to have my own rhythm during the day, and I have only been met with respect to any different habits, I might have.
The contact with the family, sharing stories with them and discussing opinions on politics, religion, cooking etc. has been just as big an experience as my project at the hospital.
I was also so fortunate to arrive in Rabat the last days of the Ramadan. I got drawn into the atmosphere of all the preparation activities for the grand fete of Eid. This happened not only in the house, but all over Rabat. There were constant queues in front of the pastry shops, and the family stayed out till late to go to the mosque and pray with friends.
I was told that being out at night these days was very safe, but still I was surprised to see the streets of Medina filled with children running around on rollerblades, playing and eating popcorn until after midnight.
One of my many objective for travelling to Morocco was (for a short while) to be part of a strong religious culture, which had a strong importance for the rhythms of the society and for the daily life. In the first week I had my feet swept away by all the colorful impressions, and it never ceased to be interesting.
My project lasted one month. There is normally no days off beside the weekend. Though it was the holidays of Eid it was possible to take two days of and take the long trip to the Sahara dessert. Together with two other volunteers from Projects Abroad, I got to ride the dromedaries watching the sunset from the top of a sand hill. We spent the night in a Bedouin tent in what seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. When we woke up early to see the sunrise we were met by a small sandstorm.
Our two guides drove us in a jeep from Ouarzazate to the dessert and back again, all the while explaining the history of the area, and how Morocco is a fusion of many different cultures and populations. This is also reflected in the language spoken in Morocco, which is mainly Arabic and French, but with many dialects. At the hospital (Souissis), where I worked, the staff all spoke perfect French, but not all the patients. Some from the older generation only spoke Berban or Arabic. It created some few limitations of what I was able to do. I helped out where I was needed the most. Also, I gained a lot of knowledge by discussing the patients with the doctor and the other students. They were all highly competent and sympathetic people.
When I was just getting used to the morning prayers, and I had found myself a regular café, my last day arrived.
I have no doubt, that I will be back one day – will look forward to my next chapter in Morocco..
Shokran pour tous.