I finally had a bit of a routine down here in Meknes. Classes were going well and I was getting to know Meknes much better. I can’t emphasize enough how nice and pleasant the Moroccan people are towards us Westerners (no less Americans for that matter!). They always tell us they love Obama and are infatuated with American culture and way of life; what’s even better is that once they find out that one of us speaks Arabic it makes their day, which for me is really cool seeing someone so excited that you speak their language. Speaking of language, I have never had such an enjoyable experience learning a language as I am here. I actually look forward to my almost daily, two and a half hour Arabic class because I learn so much during each class and every day my Arabic is improving. My confidence grows even more when I actually use the Arabic in the medina or in Hamria (the part of Meknes in which we are living). The only downfall of having a lot of Arabic classes is a lot of Arabic homework, which at times, can seem useless (but isn’t all homework useless??).
One night I was working on my Arabic homework when all of a sudden a loud, obnoxious noise came from the stairwell in our apartment. The cause for so much noise? A family below us just had their first baby. One thing that I have observed about Moroccans is that, even though Morocco itself is an Islamic country, many of its people like to party (even the conservative people at times) and they’re pretty good at it too. Some of my roommates went to check what all the commotion was all about and soon after that a waiter showed up at our front door inviting us to join the festivities. Personally, I felt like I was intruding, first I don’t even know the family, and second I felt was a bit rude of me to “crash” the baby shower uninvited. Nevertheless, the family was insistent on having us join the party. In the family’s apartment was a traditional Moroccan band consisting of four men, a catering service (obviously this family had money), and lots and lots of guests (apparently all family). There was lots of singing, some dancing, and lots of food, a three course meal in fact with lamb, chicken, fruit and ice cream (which was awesome). Periodically, the new mother would come out of the back of the apartment into the living room were the party was happening, every time with new garments of elaborate patterns and colors and made out of expensive materials. The band played until about 2:00 in the morning and the party ended around 2:30 in the morning. The experience gave me, yet a new perspective of Moroccan culture in a more traditional and conservative manner. Occasions like weddings, births, and deaths all have a significant place in Moroccan culture and are celebrated in a different manner and practice in comparison to the United States. I think Americans can learn a lot from different cultures, such as Morocco, and in turn improve their lives and their perspectives on life.