Monday, August 24, 2009

Arrival in Casablanca

August 17, 2009

I’m writing this first blog entry after arriving in Casablanca, Morocco – our new home. First off, thank you to any of you who take the time to read about our experiences here. We’d love to hear back from you.

Our flight to Casablanca set the tone for the first day and the disorienting shock of being dropped in a foreign country, to an apartment we had never seen, to a school we had seen only over an internet interview, with new people we had yet to meet. We had never experienced a flight across so much of the world, so we weren’t quite prepared for the change in time zones. The sun rose faster today than it ever had before in our lives. We ate dinner at 8 p.m. Denver time, enjoying the six dishes that came with it, and enjoying a free glass of Moroccan wine with the hope that it would help us sleep. But then at 12:30am Denver time, the sun ascended in a jolting glare over the Eastern horizon of the Atlantic Ocean, yanking me out from our four hours of fitful sleep. At 1am Denver time, we were fed breakfast. Our bodies weren’t ready for another day or another meal, but we chewed the food slowly anyhow, not knowing when or where our next meal would come, and we tried to force our bodies to wake up and agree with the foreign schedule that wasn’t going anywhere.

After making it through the H1N1 virus screening gate and the customs line, we were put on a bus with our friendly but tired new co-teachers, and we were driven to our apartments. The land was dryer than I expected. Palm trees cropped up here and there, but everything else looked like semi-desert, dusty, and covered with brown grasses and shrubs. Except for the goat herders in the nearby fields and the signs written in Arabic script, it almost resembled the plains of Colorado. We were happy to find the roads well kept-up (there were no gaping potholes here like in Guyana where we were two summers ago, nor herds of cows crossing the street at random). Cars politely honked as they moved seamlessly across road lines and making turns, alerting other cars to slow down in response. The road rules we knew didn’t seem to apply that well, but there were a whole new set of rules, which were more about seeing what nearby drivers and pedestrians were doing, and reacting in response. Before we knew it we had arrived in the empty, white three-bedroom apartment that will be our home here.

It’s hard for this place to feel anything like home yet, as I listen to the sounds of the city all around, and look onto the maze of roofs beneath our windows, which seem to drop a several stories and then rise again with no apparent pattern. Karissa compared it to the rooftop scenes found in movies like Aladdin and the Bourne Ultimatum. Clotheslines all around flap in the wind, drying the laundry, and kids are playing in the concrete rooftop yard beside us. As we look around, we feel a blur of adrenalin and a heavy, dizzy sort of tiredness that we are trying to ignore, with the hopes that we will be able to fall asleep late tonight and fight off the jet lag.


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