Robert and I share the same birthday (January 28), which is always a source of mild surprise from people. When we told our Moroccan best friend, her reaction was to jump up and scream “NO FUCKING WAY!”
She snatched her wallet and pulled out her National ID card. “THAT’S MY BIRTHDAY TOO!” We were in the middle of the dar chebab, but the three of us shamelessly jumped up and down and exclaimed loudly. It seemed like the most amazing coincidence.
At the beginning of February, she planned a road trip/weekend stay at her family’s beach house in Sidi Bouzid, a little coastal town by El Jadida (where we worked at an English Language camp last summer). It became our 3-way birthday trip!
The Atlantic February breeze was brisk, but the steady African sun warmed us up. Best of all, the company was perfect. A relaxing adventure with my best friends! Plus, we didn’t have to take public transportation for once (PCVs are not allowed to drive). Despite the environmental guilt, I adore road trips in actual cars.
Plus: no crowds and no tourists! Finding local gems like Sidi Bouzid (always facilitated by local friends) is one of the best parts of living abroad. The beach was mostly empty except for a few scattered Moroccan families and a couple of guys practicing for le bab baroud/Fantasia, which is North Africa’s traditional horsemanship festival. (Check out February’s 1 Second Everyday video to catch a second of the horses galloping down the beach!)
I wish we had taken more pictures of the trip, but we were too busy romping around and being ridiculous. We made a sand kasbah, buried Robert under a fat merman tail, and threw around an American football. We had milkshakes and mocktails at beach-view cafes. We ate grilled fish fresh from the sea. We meandered through Sidi Bouzid’s souk, where Robert was given a free stethoscope.
We feel more and more that our lives are defined by these desultory adventures.
We still have a while before we even have to start thinking about leaving Morocco. But still, every now and then I get a pang of nostalgia for a place I’m still living in. And it’s not the beaches or the strawberry milkshakes or the outdoor markets we’ll miss the most. Those things can be found anywhere. But how are we supposed to leave all these friends we’ve come to love so dearly? When we left Seattle, it was easier because we knew we’d be back. I want to say that we will definitely be back to al Maghrib too, but the truth is that we don’t know what the future will bring. So… inshallah, inshallah, inshallah.
Robert & Julie