First glance

I woke up on Monday feeling more tired than I had felt when I went to sleep around 2 a.m. The night had been interrupted by the dawn call to prayer, which woke me only long enough to realize what it was. Our hotel had a little French breakfast for us, complete with fresh-squeezed orange juice and mint tea, the national drink.

On our brief excursion out to set up our cell phones, I got to see a nice little square of Casablanca. It felt similar to other less developed countries I’ve been to—Cambodia, Vietnam, Napoli—with a lot of construction, a little more trash than you’d like to see, and a thriving feral cat population.

The locals dress pretty sharp, especially in the capital city, Rabat, which we arrived at this afternoon via a one-hour train ride from Casablanca. There were many men in suits or button-down shirts, and the women were all dress-up too, whether they were wearing the traditional robe and headscarf or skinny jeans and a sweater set (split maybe 60:40, with a range between). Nice shoes all around, and there are shoe shiners everywhere.

Also everywhere: men. I would guess it’s 80:20 men to women walking around here. So that’s weird. I must say, though, with the exception of a small group of high school boys giggling behind me and speaking English in falsetto, there haven’t been any incidents or comments or leering, and a number of people have gone out of their way to be helpful, including a taxi driver who offered us walking instructions instead of having us jump in his cab. So that’s nice.

Our vacation rental is comfortable—a second-floor studio that gets lots of light and has a balcony from which we can get a little bit of internet from an apartment across the street. It’s right around the corner from my French school, so I plan to pop over there and familiarize myself before we leave next week.

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