Imagine you’re at a train station. With cash in hand, you’re prepared to go somewhere. You go up to the ticket counter and all of the trains heading to your intended destination are sold out. You’re not bothered because you’re flexible. There are at least several other places that you wouldn’t mind going as an alternative. They’re sold out too. There’s only one train departing from your station and its coming fast. You have to decide quickly to jump aboard or wait for a chance at a better destination. Time is ticking. The train is advancing. Your heart is pounding. You look at the other tracks and there’s not another train in sight. If you wait, you have no idea for how long. So, you quickly buy your ticket, grab your bag, and leap for the train, with a prayer that all will be well. You find your seat prepared for you. You know this is where you’re supposed to be though you’re still not completely sure how you got here. You close your eyes, take a deep breath, and ride on. Metaphorically, this is how we found ourselves where we are—in Morocco.
About a month ago, we had a critical decision to make about a study and work opportunity for Urbndervish. After months of job searching, interviews, near-offers, and pathetic offers, we were visiting our family in the United States with no idea about our next move. In spite of our best efforts to prepare for our post-Nizwa life, nothing at all seemed to be going according to our plan. We were still left with as few possibilities as we were many months prior.
When the idea of Morocco came up, it was met with little resistance. For years we’ve had plans of visiting Morocco, traveling throughout Morocco, but living in Morocco wasn’t really what we had in mind for now. However, at this particular season in our lives, we can afford a little hiatus. So, we decided to embrace this year as one of adventure and exploration. There are many sights and cities we want to see here and we’re already scheduling visitors and trips for the proposed ten-month stay ahead of us. While many of our friends and relatives had no idea about Oman, Morocco has certainly piqued their curiosity. Even their own friends light up when they hear the name of our exotic locale.
The last three weeks since arriving has been an easier adjustment than we expected. The weather has been sunny and pleasant. Here in Rabat, we’re getting much further with Standard Arabic than we imagined. We’re enjoying life as pedestrians with a well-connected tram and train system and frequent, fixed-rate taxis. Locally-sourced produce here is good and cheap like amazingly sweet peaches and bananas, some of the largest and tastiest pumpkins I’ve ever had, and the crème de la crème, creamy avocados. Even though our apartment and neighborhood is basic and simple, we have the advantage of living by the ocean–a first for all of us. The gentle waves both soothe and orient us when trying to find our way home.
On the days we’re shopping or exploring, life in Rabat is fun. On the other days, I struggle to come up with engaging excursions or activities for Lil’ Z. We spared room in our luggage for her drawing supplies, canvas, some books, and a few activities for her in-home learning environment. But we’ve yet to find a decent a park or other homeschooled children. Instead, I’m trying to make a lesson out of everything—the woman making bread on the street side, the crane lifting bags of cement to a roof top, and buying fresh produce from the market. By far, the hardest lesson to tackle is panhandling. In spite of Morocco’s apparent progress and development, you still see elders, mothers with children, and the disabled begging. This is what our scenario is like in Rabat, but our landscape and its options are likely to change next month when we move to Casablanca.
We haven’t been too thrilled about relocating to Casablanca because the city is huge and more socially and economically challenging than Rabat. French is more widely spoken there, and the class divide is more noticeable. A prime example is the Montessori school there. We briefly entertained the idea of enrolling Lil’ Z in their program but found the cost so prohibitive that it’s downright elitist. We worry that other recreational or extracurricular activities we consider to supplement Lil’ Z’s days at home will be too expensive or in the company of overly privileged children. Regardless, this is where our train is moving us, and we know with certainty that there is purpose in it. We’re trying to keep our hearts open to give and receive whatever lessons we are here for.
All of us are missing Oman in one way or another. We’ve shipped our coveted books to our parents’ homes. We’ve left behind kitchen goods, children’s books, and wooden activities with our friends and sold our beloved, faithful ride, Suzi. For now, that chapter is closed. We’ve had to swap the sights of black abaya gowns for hooded jalaabiya robes, speeding cars for trams and trains, and Omani biryani for Moroccan couscous. We’re going to make this move work for us, one way or another, because everything we need has been with us all along.