It’s been a year now since we embarked on our Moroccan adventure. We got on the ferry in Genoa and landed at Tangier med 49 hours later. It was exciting, exhilarating, scary, and stressful as big changes can be.
After a year here, I am reliving those memories of our arrival and examining how I’ve adapted (or not) to the customs and culture. The call to prayer echoes through my apartment and the city five times a day marking the passing of the day. Sometimes I am soothed by it. Sometimes it is such a normal part of the background sounds that I hardly notice.
Shop owners smile and welcome me now. Usually they know what I’ve come for and are ready to help should I decide in my schoolgirl French to ask for something different.
Still, the language continues to be my biggest challenge. I’ve studied French for a year and a half and feel confident in my reading skills. These are important since menus, instructions, products, signs, and most printed materials are in French. Speaking is another matter. My pronunciation is poor, not as many people speak French in Tangier as I had thought. Sometimes I speak a little Spanish or resort to Italian for Spanish speakers because they usually understand it. This year my goal is to learn more Darija which is the Moroccan Arabic dialect spoken throughout Morocco. I know about 70 words now but can’t string a full sentence together.
The weather is a highlight of living here. Hot summer days with cool nights, sunny winters with moderate temperatures, a short rainy season, and the time in-between with perfect 75-degree temperatures and lovely breezes.
Seeing the sea every day is now a necessity. It is easy to do, as there are glimpses almost everywhere you go and every street you are on in the Medina and in Centreville. Still, none of the views is as stunning as the one from my apartment window.
Daily life is slow and lovely here. The days start late and the shops think about opening around 10:30 or 11:00. Lunches are normally at 2-3 and dinners at 9-10.
Additionally, fresh vegetables, fruits, and lovely fresh fish appear at the market every day and on Thursday and Sunday, individual farmers make their way into the city to sell their wares. The quality, size, colors, and tastes are incredible.
I’ve learned about the necessity of the hammam experience and it is a part of my routine now. The bathing and cleansing ritual serves as a physical and emotional detoxification and releases stress, anxiety, and allows deep relaxation.
There are things that I don’t like. Some areas of the city need improvements in sanitation pickup and trash removal. Sidewalks and roads can be in a state of disrepair. Also, poor people with disabilities, injuries, or mental health issues ask for money on the street. Stray cats that are unhealthy or injured are left to fend for themselves. All of these usually found in large cities throughout the world.
Overall, the year has been full of wonder, adventure, education, and pleasure. I love living in Tangier.
Above all, we’ve had many friends and family to visit. We’ve made new friends here and settled into a social network that includes meals out with friends, dinner parties, movies, day trips, beach and pool days, volunteer work, and I’ve taken on a new part-time job teaching English.
Most importantly, I can’t wait to see what the coming years in Morocco will bring.