Classes at AALIM (Arab American Language Institute in Morocco) are intense. The four hours of Modern Standard Arabic every morning, Darija lessons after lunch, and the usual load of homework can really add up. So midway through our first week, I was feeling the heat and I thought it would be fun to take a night out on the town.
It’s Ramadan here in Meknes so Muslims fast from sunup to sundown. Most restaurants and stores are closed and the streets are pretty quiet during the day. But when the sun sets around 7:30 everyone celebrates by breaking the fast with Iftar. Stores begin opening and people head to the medina to go shopping or just enjoy the night air.
My friends and I decided to do the same and take a break from the homework. My roommate Brantley and I hopped out of our apartment and ran down the stairs into the night. We met up with our friends and grabbed some petite taxis to Bab Mansour. In front of the gate is a large open square with people selling clothes, hats, shoes, sugarcane juice, and roasted corn. We wandered our way through the souq and made a loop back to the square.
In the corner of the square is a café with a terrace. We walked up three steep flights of stairs and sat with a full view of the city sprawled out before us. We sipped mint tea while chatting for a couple of hours. It was nice to slow down after a hectic weekend of travel, but we couldn’t stay out for too long.
Brantley and I headed back to the house, but just as we were getting ready for bed, we heard the door open again. Our host mom’s sisters came in for a holiday visit! We sat with them and chatted in Arabic for two more hours. We drank some more mint tea and watched Arabic comedies together. I also found out that my host dad likes Simon and Garfunkel too! We ended up cramming in most of our homework in the early hours of the morning, but it was worth it nonetheless.