The Café

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We had just completed a three-hour class in hopes of picking up a small portion of Arabic, enough to greet locals, get around in Taxi’s, and to purchase items from markets. I had just stood up and was ready to walk to where we would be meeting the Moroccan students.  Little did I know that the people that I would meet would that afternoon would change my experience in Morocco for the better. We all met at a café, some were already there and others on Moroccan time- meaning they’d be there eventually. They weren’t dressed as I thought they would be, they weren’t dressed any more conservatively then we were, some were veiled and others weren’t, but many of them wore jeans and t-shirts, just like the kids back home do. We sat down at small tables and spread the chairs out so that we could form two large groups. All of them were very talkative for just having met us. They opened up and answered all of the questions that we had in line for them, and when we had finished with our questioning we continued our conversations with laughs and jokes. We had just met, yet we had all hit it off. Yes we spoke different languages, no, we didn’t always understand what one another were saying; yet the laughs we shared united us. It didn’t seem as though we were from two different countries. We all had hopes of becoming successful, being happy, and living lives the way that we wanted to. I sat with a small group of people, and I had been rustling around with a question in my mind. “What do you guys do in your free time for fun?” I blurted out.  A young man named Salah replied with a laugh, looking around as if what I had asked was a trick question, “We live in Morocco. We always have free time here. There are no schedules. But for fun I like to play sports, dance and hang out with my friends.” His answer was simple, yet it made me feel like an idiot, and just then it hit me. We are all on such strict regiments at home that we end up calling our non-scheduled activities, ‘free time’. He made me rethink the way I went about my day. It was unlike any response I would’ve received in the U.S.  Where I come from, it’s crazy if you aren’t organized and don’t have everything in order from when you wake up, to when you lay your head down on a pillow to fall asleep. The conversation then turned to rap music. Katie got up and rapped and Salah and Hamza got up to dance, which drew everyones eyes and ears.

The fun continued as they took us back to our hotel, but we wanted to go out and have dinner with them. They agreed and we found a small restaurant where we could all find something to settle our grumbling stomachs. We ate fries and bread, drinking water and soda, but the conversation never ceased. We went on from topics of music, to dancing, and even to things like college and the classes that we were interested in. Shortly after finishing our late dinner we made our way to play pool. There I had an interesting conversation with a young man I met, his name was Amine, and he was one of the most kind-hearted people that I had met in Morocco. He told me all about his aspirations to be a teacher, to learn the English language and teach in Morocco. Him and I had very much in common, I too want to be an English teacher, and if all goes well I might just end up back in Morocco. He asked me numerous questions about the United States, about where I lived and what I liked to do for fun. He asked me about how I liked Spain, and wanted to see the pictures of it that I had captured on my call phone. I proceeded in showing him and with every snapshot that I had taken his response was the same, “Wow, just wow”, he would said, over and over again. He then told me that he wished he could travel; see the world that I was seeing.  Amine told me about how difficult it was for them to obtain a Visa, which made me appreciate how lucky I was. I lived in a place where it isn’t hard to acquire a passport to travel. His heart held a lot of faith, and to me this was encouraging. He taught me to be thankful for all the opportunities that I had, and he didn’t even realize it. Coming home was a difficult transition, and I tell everyone that part of my heart still resides in Meknes. I took a lot from this trip. I try to be more laid back and relaxed instead of constantly being so fast-paced and worried. I also thank God everyday for everything that he has granted me with. Coming back here made me realize just how blessed I really am.

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