Kadie: Fassi familiarity

March 16, 2011

So somehow over the course of my first month here, Fes has become “home.” It has those aspects of certain familiarity that, upon returning after weekend away, just make me feel like I’m coming home. Its also everything I associate with my day-to-day routine, including the ever-stressful and ovewrwhelming class schedule. I know my medina streets, at least in and out of my little neighborhood, the rest of the medina is still a mystery, but the woman who owns the corner shop down the street from my house nods hellos of recognition to me now whenever I walk by, and the owner of the sweet shop outside the center we all study at welcomes us with smiles and ‘how are yous’ every day now. It is a phenomenon I’m beginning to get used to, when the “foreign” becomes the “familiar.” And I couldn’t be more in love with it. Of course, there is still too much to learn about this city and this country, and I don’t by any means claim to know evem a small fraction of the culture yet, but I do know that it already feels like home, that the roots I’ve laid down so far are going to be hard ones to rip out when its time for me to leave again.

And those roots I’m talking about aren’t just embedded in to this city and culture, but with my family and with all my fellow students as well. This last weekend some of us took a trip to Chefchaoun, which is “easily” accessed by a nice 4 hour long bus ride through the Rif Mountains in northern Morocco. This little city is BEAUTIFUL and tucked away in the most picturesque of valleys. The air was noticeably cleaner, and the weather noticeably wetter, and the people noticeably far less concerned with our presence…except of course when they wanted to sell us “kif.” Kif and hash are EVERYWHERE in this region, and I’m guessing it was offered to us ohhh, 30 plus times over the course of the weekend. Its sad kind of, that this beautiful mountain village is being tainted by such a horrible industry. But, if one ignores all the hustlers, and the police always walking around trying to catch them, then Chaoun can be really fun.

The history of the town is fascinating, and I’m not going to attempt to summarize it here, as I’ll probably get some details wrong, but it has been inhabited and controlled by almost every group of people one can imagine in Northern Morocco, and it’s now famous because the Jewish immigrants that arrived in the 20th century decided to paint the ENITRE town blue. So, walking through the streets, its as if we were dropped in to someone’s technicolor daydream…so many shades of such perfect blues, all attempting to erase all worries of the rain and the cold, and open our eyes to how beautiful our surroundings were. Wandering the streets was impossible without a million and a half stops to take pictures. And when we found ourselves with a few hours without rain, hiking up the closest mountain was the surest way to be absolutely blown away by the most picturesque scenery I have ever encountered. I found myself, once again, extremely frustrated at how the pictures I was capturing on my camera just were NOT doing the real scenes justice. The hiking felt amazing, and the friends I was with made it that much better, and, as everyone who knows me would guess…seeing more of the world always puts me in a better mood. 🙂

So it is with such a mindset that I returned “home.” And now, not even today’s exam can get me down…this next weekend we’re headed south, to the Sahara….and this one is sure to be EPIC.  Can I get three cheers for seeing the world?? Hip hip HOORAY! Hip hip Hooray! Hip hip hooray!! 🙂

Liz and I next to some of the waterfalls we encountered on our way up the mountain trails!

Soooooo BLUE!

ME! In front of a panoramic view of Chefchaoun below…

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