Written on the Flight from Rabat to Paris

Leah Siegel

At 4:30, I woke up, did some final packing, got some breakfast, then rolled my suitcases for the last time down the medina towards an awaiting taxi.  At the Rabat-Sale Airport, the plane took off before the sun rose.  As we flew away from Rabat, I looked behind and could see the streetlights of the city where I have lived these past few months.

Now on the plane, I can’t help but think how weird my life post-Morocco will be.  I won’t be walking down the crowded streets of Rabat’s medina, that I have come to know pretty well––no fish market street where my friends and I bought vegetables and where I walked down everyday to class; no jam-packed Souika where storekeepers blasted music to entice shoppers in; no cookie-and-rhife street; no Legza, the thoroughfare of the medina and where I bought string candy with friends right before class; and, of course, no Rue des Consuls, the street where I lived with my host family (and did a good deal of souvenir shopping).  I won’t be seeing the friendly faces of shopkeepers with whom I’d talk.  I won’t be smelling the omnipresent, and quite pungent, snail soup.  I won’t be able to buy movies for five dirhams.  I won’t be able to buy malaoui with cheese and honey for three dirhams.  I won’t hear Cheb Khaled’s “C’est La Vie” or “Hiya Hiya” on the street.  I won’t be able to go to the hammam.  Outside of the medina, I won’t be going to the outdoor café where the servers are nice and remember me, and I won’t be going to Agdal to work in Bert’s Café.  I won’t see the Bou Regreg from my hobbit house in the Kasbah, and I won’t walk through the Kasbah garden and café every morning.

I won’t be using Arabic.  No smhelly.*  No shukran.*  No la shukran allawajip.*  No meshi mushkil.*  No salaam aleikum.*  No wa aleikum assalaam.*  No besslama.*  No laila saida.*  No sba’hl kheir.*  No sba’hl nor.*  No sbheila kheir.*  No kolshi bkheir.*  No kolshi mezzien.*  No bnine bezef.*  No zwine.*  No zwina.*

No labass,* and no labass, hamdullah.*  I can’t even explain how hard it will be this next week to refrain from saying these two things.  I was labass-ing people left and right in Morocco.  Who can I labass back home?

It’s only been three hours, and I’m already waxing nostalgic for my life back in the medina.

These things have become such an integral part of my life that they have become normal.  By the end, I didn’t even mind the street harassment that much (my friends and I figured out some fun ways of responding to it).  I think this is partly why my posts became so irregular these past couple of months.  My days became a routine.  Nothing occurred that was too unexpected––or rather, things were as they should be.

The things is, while I’m saying good-bye to Rabat, this doesn’t feel like the end.  I can’t believe that I’ll never be back in Morocco.

So, this is it, Whitman.  I have a couple more previously-written posts that I’m going to put up, but aside from that, I’m done.  Thank you for reading what I wrote, and being patient with the long absences.  I’ll see you all in January, back on campus.

Update from Paris: I miss Moroccans.  I miss seeing Arabic.  Just debated whether or not to throw away a used Sidi Ali water bottle because there is Arabic writing on it.  It’s kind of ridiculous.  I then heard people speaking Arabic, and went up and said, “Salaam Aleikum,” and started talking to them.  Really Leah–get a hold of yourself.  Safi.*

Update from LA airport: It’s weird to hear English everywhere.  I’m ridiculously tired, and still want to go back to Rabat.

*smhelly: sorry

*shukran: thank you

*la shukran allawajip: you’re welcome (don’t thank me, it’s my duty)

*meshi mushkil: don’t worry (no problem)

*salaam aleikum: hello

*wa aleikum assalaam: hello to you, too!

*besslama: good-bye

*laila saida: good night

*sba’hl kheir: good morning

*sba’hl nor: good morning to you, too!

*sbheila kheir: good night (I hope you have a good day tomorrow)

*kolshi bkheir/kolshi mezzien: everything’s good

*bnine bezef: really delicious

*zwine/zwina: neat/pretty

*labass: how’s it going?

*labass, hamdullah: I’m doing well (it’s going well, thank God)

*safi: enough