In Lil’ Z’s own words, Morocco is “too goofy”. Her Morocco actually means Casablanca where we’ve been living for the last month and a half. This revelation came up during breakfast when she said that she wants to return to Nizwa for a long time. I asked if she wanted to stay in Morocco for a long time and her answer was clearly no. When I asked her why, she said there’s too much noise, fighting, and begging. Unfortunately, I can’t really argue with her and have been feeling that Casablanca is a little too goofy for us too.
No matter where we live, we always miss our family, friends, and the amazing vegan foods that we leave behind. However, Oman is a place that we all really miss living in. Like a contagion, the homesickness spread quickly through the home and we were all recalling our favorite people and places in the Sultanate. Leaving Nizwa was a sound decision that we still don’t regret but it was disappointing that we couldn’t find a way to stay in or near Oman.
We’ve met North Africans who were openly critical of Oman and the Arab Gulf in general. Some find the conservatism of their societies restrictive and impractical to the point of hypocrisy. They peer through the façade of ornate mosques, national dress codes, and strict gender segregation to unveil closeted sinfulness and perversion. Like any place and people, we all fall short of our purported ideals and values but the difference between broadcasting these shortcomings and hiding them are like night and day. The presence of immorality in the social landscape as a comfortable resident versus a lurking visitor is dissimilar in their effect on society as a whole. Maybe living in conservative societies for so long has sensitized us, but we still prefer that sin be a private manner, not a public one.
There are times where Casablanca feels like a country separate from Morocco. Passing an open bar filled with people in the middle of the day or watching people place bids on horse races seems so out of place. While I prep my cousin for her first visit to Morocco, I find the generic advice about appropriate dress and social conduct in a Muslim land consistently abrogated by Moroccans themselves and better observed by well-meaning tourists who read their guidebooks before coming. Thankfully, the institutions of Islam still exist, the call to prayer is still made, and people can practice their faith to the extent of their desire without any public pressure or reprimand.
Regardless of how we might feel living here, nothing can take the love for Morocco and Moroccans from our hearts. The history of this land is one of struggle, triumph, and faith. Call it strange but regardless of how Casablanca stresses us out, we still believe that there is an underlying blessedness in this land and we’re determined to find it and benefit from it while we can.