Boston to Moscow without leaving Rabat

We’ve had some crazy, multicultural last few days! It started with a “bluegrass festival” late Thursday night that turned out to be not so much a festival as a staged performance in front of a seated audience. The U.S. embassy had brought The Boston Boys out as part of an intercultural arts program called American Voices, and the Boys teamed up with a pair of Moroccans playing fiddle, banjo and sitar (?) interchangeably. The music was lots of fun, but I felt restrained not being able to get up and dance. I have never been a rock star, but I’ve watched a lot of movies about rock stars, and the gist I get from them is that the feedback from the audience is kind of important. I have been up on stage with lights in my eyes, and I know it’s hard to get much feedback when you can’t actually see much of the audience.

Then our Saturday was interrupted by a friend of a friend calling to let us know he was picking us up in 30 minutes to go running with the Hash House Harriers of Rabat. HHH styles itself as a drinking club with a running problem, so we ran about 3.5 kilometers, stopped for a beer, then ran the last 1.5 kilometers back to the cars for more drinking and a circle with shouting, singing, introductions of new members, oh yes, and more drinking. It was started by a bunch of Brits in Malaysia back in the mid-1900s, I’ve been told, so everything’s in English, but the Rabat chapter is about half Moroccan and half everything else. Some of our conversations led to an invitation to join a trekking club, a tip about tango lessons, and a lead on teaching at an English-language school here, plus an invite to the Halloween party the weekend after next!

Check out that thing on the right!

Finally last night we went to the opening night of the Russian Cultural Days, which one of my French classmates invited us to. It kicked off with a quartet–three string instruments and an accordion–accompanied by a pair of opera singers. They were followed by our favorite act of the evening: five drummers who could dance (dancers who could drum?), one sporting a fantastic beard. A swinging brass jazz band followed, playing such hits as that Chips Ahoy song and that song from “Austin Powers,” another band for which I would have loved to get up and boogied. Finally, dancers from the Russian ballet closed the night, dancing excerpts from “Swan Lake”, “The Nutcracker”, “Giselle”, and “La Esmeralda.” That all happened in about an hour! I would have been happy to see any one of the performers play on the whole night, but to get a taste of all of them was superb. The one downfall of the event was that we were sitting with some of the rudest audience members I’ve ever had to share a performance with: cell phones going off, texting throughout the entire show, camera flashes, etc.; even the sound booth people were disruptive, with Arabic from a radio or a walkie-talkie or a TV very audible during the quiet moments of the ballet. But it was free. Whatcha gonna do?

Updates will hopefully become more regular now that we have internets in the apartment–yaaaay!


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