As of now, I thinking and planning of staying in Fez (the city I am currently in) for the entire length of my stay in Morocco—14 months. As this is the case, I have a very different outlook than if I was staying here for only 3 or 6 months. I have lots of time.
Thus, I do not feel an urge to travel every weekend or visit all the tourist attractions in the next month. I am more interested right now in setting up my life and trying to figure out, to some extent, what it will look like for the next year.
Last week I signed up for aerobics classes at a gym near my homestay family’s house. I go three days a week to an all-women’s class (no men are allowed even near the place during this time) and so far, I really love it. It feels good to have a schedule (other than the grueling four hours of language class every morning), and it feels good to have a consistent workout. Also, it is fun to see a side of Moroccan women I have never seen before. These women wear spandex from head to toe, and they thrust their hips, and after the class they shower together.
Something else I have spent a lot of time doing these past few weeks is learning how to hail a taxi in Fez. It has taken practice and patience and lots of observation to understand how the “system” works here. To back up and explain a little bit—I live near the old city and it is a short cab ride (around 2 miles) to my school in the new city. Now there are special taxi stands in both areas that will take you from one to the other for only 3 dirhams (30 cents) instead of paying for the full fare of nearly 9 dirhams. However, the taxi stand in the new city is almost always full of people all going to the old city and, as Moroccans are not fond of lines or waiting their turn, it takes some finesse to get in a cab.
First, you walk up and just stand around the taxi stand for the first few cabs that show up. Don’t even try to get in the cabs because people will just push you out of the way. But after awhile, people take note that you have been there awhile (one advantage of sticking out like a sore thumb here), that maybe it’s almost your turn. So the next few cabs that show up, you attempt to get in the cabs. Most likely, you still won’t be successful—but have patience and don’t show any frustration—everyone else at the stand is taking note of your behavior. If you show any frustration, they will not respect you. If you remain calm, you look like an expert. Insha’allah (God willing) you will have a cab soon. Before you know it, a cab stops right in front of you. You grab the door handle, and somehow nobody fights you for it—you have earned it! Then you’ve got yourself a cab!
But of course, Fridays is a different story. Everyone wants to get home for special Friday lunch, so all the rules above no longer apply. I take the bus on Fridays :)