Homesick for Rabat
What does an ex Catholic mother, recovering from post dogmatic stress syndrome say to that?
When my daughter told me that Arabic studies and a class on the Q’uran would be on her freshman roster, I admit that I was intimidated. As an anthropology major, her focus is on diverse cultures and experiential learning is essential and I knew that travel would be a part of her studies. Yet thoughts of my daughter backpacking through the Middle East, one of the more troubled areas of the world, frightened me. If I didn’t say so, I’d be a liar, no matter how open minded I think I may be. Then again, perhaps the only trouble free place is the place you can make in your own mind. You carry your peace with you – does this sound like truth or more like a desperate mom looking for a sense of security?
Regardless, this year I gave my first born a kiss at the airport just before she boarded the plane to Casablanca, a place I only knew about from the black and white illusions of Bogart and Bergman. As a participant in one of the Drew University International Seminars, she would spend two weeks in Morocco, followed by a week in Paris (!) to learn about globalization from northern Africa to France. Fearless daughter had the time of her life in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. I could tell that she was in exactly the right place for her studies right now. Her enthusiasm radiated across the internet through her facebook messages and photos. My worries about the trip evaporated into joy over her adventure. My children have all visited various churches and synagogues to experience services at different times in their lives. Little did I know that the scarf I bought in Paris years ago, would be covering my daughter’s head during her first visit to a mosque in Morocco. If we all took time to learn about even one religion or culture we know nothing about, what effect would that have globally? I can’t help but wonder. At the same time, witnessing how divided our own country is even when it comes to politics, harmony can seem a far off dream.I am so grateful to the host family who cared for my daughter during her stay. She describes them as sweet, warm and welcoming. In fact, it seems that the hospitality of those she met was a constant thread and certainly a highlight of her journey. I can only share my peripheral impressions and reflections as a mom in the wings – I hope my daughter will write about her experiences in detail soon. Perhaps she can be my first guest blogger.
Religion, politics and cultural norms aside – food, like music, speaks a universal language. My daughter has been missing the wonderful fresh and tasty dishes that she experienced with her host family: exotic stews like tangine, and fresh concoctions like jus d’avocat.
On her first morning home I went to market with the woven basket purchased from the Medina…and tried to ease her back into New Jersey life. Though my attempts pale in comparison, they are made more colorful by the hand painted egg cup from Fez.I must try my hand at tangine soon. Recipes, anyone?
Images: Image 1: taken in the Medina, Rabat, Morocco. Image 2: at JFK, Image 3 Chefchaouen, Image 4: taken by fellow classmate at Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca