Monday, September 28, 2009

Settling In

I and my fellow IES Abroad-Rabat compatriots have been here in Rabat for about ten days now. Last Monday was the celebration of Eid al-Fitr (also known as Eid as-Saghrir) here in Morocco. Unlike other muslim countries Morocco still relies on sightings of the moon certified by religious scholars to determine the start and end of Ramadan. Therefore, unlike much of the rest of the muslim world which celebrated Eid on Sunday, Morocco chose to celebrate on Monday, meaning that both Monday and Tuesday were declared a religious holiday.

Eid al-Fitr is rather lackluster from an outsider's point of view. Moroccans use the occasion to return to a normal eating schedule, smoke their first daytime cigarettes in a month and visit family and friends. This meant that the city was mostly deserted as most Moroccans were using their day off to sleep in or visit with family. While this sounds disappointing, I have been assured that Eid al-Kabir (the big festival), which happens around the beginning of November, will be much more lively with more public celebrations and the sacrifice of a number of animals.

In other news, my roommate Jake and I finally received the keys to our apartment which is located on the fourth floor of an colonial art deco building behind the train station complete with a 1940's elevator with the manually opened and closed door. Our apartment itself is roomy with marble flooring and tiling, a western-style bathroom, kitchen, ample closte space and windows which come so low that they would be a lawsuit waiting to happen back in the US of A. As of yesterday we had electricity and running water as well as one and a half beds (Kitea, Morocco's answer to Ikea, forgot to deliver the necessary parts). However we have been assured that in time we will be fully equipped with hot water, a couch, a refrigerator, a stove, fully assembled beds and, inchallah, wireless internet. Stay tuned for further updates as well as epic sagas of interior decorating.

On a final note: it is now officially "post-adan" which means that, you guessed it, bars and liquor stores have finally reopened. Marjane, Morocco's answer to Walmart, has finally raised the metal gate which separated and hid its stacks of alcohol from the devout and fasting eyes of Moroccans. Alcohol tends to be fairly expensive relative to other foodstuffs here, although I have found the local "Moghrabi" red (made at Morocco's own Celliers De Meknes) to be a fairly delectable and affordable at around 25 dh ($3) a bottle.

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