Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Here Comes The Sun.

"Well, Inshallah, next time you come, you will stay for a longer time."

You said it, cabby.

On the way to the Casablanca Airport on Sunday night, I spilled my heart in broken Arabic to my cab driver about how our short weekend in Morocco just did not suffice.

From take off to landing I was waiting for the inevitable Weekend Disaster. Maybe I would lose my wallet (too easy) or get heat stroke in the Moroccan sun or accidentally poison myself by eating raw veggies. My paranoia was unwarranted because now, back safe and sound in Paris, I can say that besides stubbing my toe on a rock in the Sahara Desert, everything was perfect.

Along with some spiffy souvenirs (that I used my inherent Syrian bartering skills to purchase.. I have found my calling) I managed to pick up a Berber husband. I caught a glimpse of the life of a nomad and instantly decided it really wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to ditch my French literature papers for some mint tea and tajine dinners. Our charming tour guide Yusef never faultered in enthusiasm and always led us to deliciously delicious lunches. Throughout our tour he kept teasing me about being his Palestinian wife... poor guy has no idea how seriously I am taking him.

I kid I kid.. but between camel rides, authentic hammams, freshly squeezed orange juice, mountain views, a desert sunrise and rooftop terrace hookahs, it was the first time all semester that I left Paris and didn't want to go back at the end of the trip. The hostel we stayed at in Marrakech had free hookah and tea and the friendliest staff I've ever met. Saying goodbye to them (along with Tour Guide Yusef who semi-lives in that hostel) on Sunday morning gave me the same pit-in-the-stomach/lump-in-the-throat feeling I get when saying bye to my family.

Maybe it was because we spent a third of our time in transit, but leaving Morocco felt like having an iPod run out of battery a minute into your favorite song. I can't complain because it's just another one of those study abroad problems that isn't really a problem. We checked off quite a few boxes from our Life To Do List and flew home before anything could sour our trip.

Mm, I realize that this entry doesn't dive into much detail, but I've got plenty swimming around in my mind. So in two weeks when I see you in person, ask me about Morocco. If you're lucky I'll post some pictures.

But for now the next step is my big final exam- showing Salwa Hindi what's good in this glitzy City of Lights.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

For the full effect of this blog entry, listen to the audio clip here.

This American Life produced a show last January that featured The Most Unwanted Song on its show "Numbers." This song was created from a poll evaluating everyone's least favorite elements in music including, but not limited to, bagpipes, holidays and cowboys.

The song was amusing and cute at the time, but when a far too similar melody kept me up in the mornings this past weekend in Marseille, that charm was lost. At one point, for no clear reason, opera music played at the same time as unrecognizable hip hop right outside our hostel room window. The previous morning the most obnoxious children in the EU were released next door where they engaged in a screaming contest.

I mean, what is the deal? I expected the sounds of crashing waves along the Mediterranean coast to be the most invasive sounds I heard, not the chanting of devil children.

Regardless, the unfavorable window orchestra was only the grain of salt to a pretty spectacular weekend in the south of France.

For an inexplicable reason, port cities always seem to win my heart. And when you fill those port cities with French and Arab infused culture, you've got a pretty happy Jenna Bean. It was disorienting, in the best way possible, to be in a city that was so close, yet so far, from Paris. Street signs looked the same and the French language dominated, but the people and atmosphere hardly felt like Europe at all. Everywhere we went people were excited to hear the story of our semester. They spoke in French to us, slowly and patiently, and seemed genuinely eager to help us in our touristy quests.

You can only imagine the warm hospitality I received when I played the Palestinian card to the Algerian and Egyptian citizens of Marseille. I spoke more Arabic this weekend than I do at a typical wedding in Syria, and I loved it.

Every time I have gone on a weekend travel, I always return to Paris completely content with my study abroad decision. This trip wasn't any different, but it did open my eyes to certain elements Paris lacks. We walked through a non-touristy neighborhood that was completely covered in narrow streets, crowded buildings and colorful shutters. Kids played soccer and skateboarded in the streets and women hung laundry outside the windows. Imagining living with a family on one of these streets broke my heart, only a little bit, because I am more than positive that it would have been the extra warm, extra inviting host family I don't completely have here in Paris.

But after a money-saving walk to the apartment across the Bastille, Louvre, Concorde, Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, I won't even pretend to complain to be back "home".

PS - Courtesy of Miss Pastor, here is a glimpse of street life in Aix en Provence we were lucky enough to catch.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oh Happy Days.

I have the greatest mother in the world.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Everything Is Alright.

You know you're having an okay day in Paris when you're whistling along with the waiters at your study cafe to the background music of Mr. Andrew Bird. The next song was Heartbeats.

And it's a good day when you buy the perfect fitting vintage shirt for five euro less than you expected to pay.

I celebrated the first day of June by picnicking with a long-term friend and watching the tan lines around my rings deepen.

I officially have one month left, which in abroad time equals five minutes, so I better get back to work.