Last night when I was being driven home from my church, our car got stuck in the middle of a traffic jam caused by five cars driving the wrong way through an intersection. Everybody was honking and making wild gestures. At one point a man got out of his car to yell at the driver in front of him, which only slowed everyone down because no one behind him could move. Everybody was honking, swerving, and yelling all at the same time. The stop light nearby changed to red and back to green again, totally irrelevant to what was actually happening on the street.
Everybody’s going somewhere.
This morning I taught my English class for young adults. Since it was the last class of the week, I thought it would be fun to play a game. I introduced a guessing game where one person would think of a food and the other students would ask a yes/no question to figure out what the food was. My students’ desks were arranged in a circle, so I told them to ask the questions one by one in a circle. It worked fine for the first round, but once all of the students understood the game, they stopped waiting their turns. I would ask one student for a yes/no question, and three people across the room would be shouting out,
“Is it eggs?!”
“It’s a fruit? A vegetable!”
The game quickly became chaos because before one student could answer the questions, someone else would have already shouted out the answer. I stopped the game after a few rounds because it was just too much of everyone talking all at once to continue to manage. I tried to slow them down and get them to go one by one, but even when I achieved calm moments, they didn’t last. I felt like the stop light that no one was following. Which makes me wonder; if we changed the way teachers and Moroccan schools manage their classes, would Moroccans be better drivers?
The number one thing I feel homesick for when I’m in Casablanca is exercise. I miss how easily I could exercise in Chicago; there were two gyms right near my home, a beautiful running path, and just a mile away was the lakefront path, which I biked down many weekend afternoons on my way downtown. Here in Casa, the running is a little more challenging. Cars block the way, motorbikes speed by, the sidewalks have holes, traffic lights and actual traffic patterns don’t quite match up, and men in cafés stare. I only rarely see other runners, and I think I’ve only once seen a female running by herself…and she was clearly also a foreigner.
Dodging cars is good for increasing your heart rate.
Moroccan society certainly has more divisions between private and public life than American society does. It is perhaps a little strange for a woman to go out in exercise clothing and run in the streets. Unemployed men have the bad habit of staring, particularly at foreigners. And perhaps the idea that exercise is important and is not just something for unskilled laborers is new to Morocco, as the wealthiest of society live in such a way that they rarely have to interact with the outside world. However, I think it is generally accepted that exercise is a good thing for everyone.
There are deceptively few cars in this photo.
Tomorrow I plan to get up and go for a run in the morning. It will probably be hard to get myself to go out knowing that I will have to dodge cars and bumps in the pavement, and that all eyes will be on me as I pass each café. But I’m going to do it anyway, because I love the feeling I get from running, and the way that exercise allows me to think clearly and positively. I’m going to continue doing what I love even if it can be uncomfortable; but I really hope that it starts to catch on!