I have to try and write quickly because Paolo is sitting next to me, bored out of his head...but it is hard since the keyboard I am using is French and the letters are all in different places. We are in the beautiful town of Asilah, and have been here for the past 5 days. We flew into Casablanca, and spent 2 nights there. I dont really know what to say about Casablanca. It really isn't much of a tourist place, it is more of a real Moroccan city. It is quite dirty, but nothing like Delhi. The first night we walked through the market, Paolo bought a pair of sandals, we went to dinner, and Paolo left his shoes at the restaraunt...he did not realize this until we walked all the way back to our hotel--Hotel Central (which was so cute...very traditional Moroccan decor, and a terrace on the roof with a nice view)...so we decided to wait until the next day to go back to see if they were still there. In my mind I was quite certain they would be gone, but when we went back the next morning, the restaurant owner happily retrieved the shoes from behind the counter--and this confirmed what I had been suspecting since I had arrived...Moroccans are really lovely people. They have been so hospitable, both in Casablanca and here in Asilah. They are friendly, funny, and very helpful--especially for the two of us. You see, in Morocco they speak Aribic and French. This is a bit difficult for the English and Italian speaking couple...however, its amazing how we can always communicate what we want or need, and can understand their responses. This was one of my biggest fears before leaving on this trip, but I have come to realize that there are so many more ways of communicating than speaking alone.
In Asilah they also speak Spanish because it's so close to the border of Spain, so with my limited Spanish, Paolo's limited French, his Italian and my English we usually have most conversations in 4 languages, where we can greet people in Spanish or French, talk about the weather, or ask for the bill, but everything else is mostly in English or bits of Italiano. It is actually kinda fun.
Asilah is wonderful. It is quaint, authentic, and calm (compared to Casablanca). It is on the Atlantic Ocean, and has a huge beach. Right now there is an international arts festival going on, so there are a lot of tourists in town (mostly Moroccan, Spanish or French). We spend most days relaxing--eatich a late breakfast, having some traditional Moroccan mint tea (which is fabulous), going to the beach, reading, playing paddle ball, talking, resting, watching amazing sunsets, and looking at the new art that is being painted on the white walls of the city buildings each day. In Morocco, there is a section of each city called the Medina, which is usually the older part of town with a giant wall around it. Inside the Medina you will find all of the craft work, which is unbelievable--I could fill 2 suitcases full of art, shoes (they make leather sandals by hand along the streets of the Medina) hand painted dishes, and the coolest lamps in the world. I am trying to figure out how to get one home...I think maybe I will send it home with Paolo and have him deliver it to me in the US... ;)
I did not even think about Morocco being a muslim country and how different going to the beach would be. Many women are still completely covered, and even swim in all of their clothes. I have yet to figure out how it is decided how covered a muslim woman is. There are some that you only see their eyes, others who you see their entire faces, others who are wearing jeans but have their hair covered...and young girls and teenagers dress very western. Some even more provocatively than girls in the US. It is really interesting to see a family, the dad and children in clothes like ours, and the mother in traditinal Islamic clothing. It is like the family is living in 2 different centuries.
But, like every other country I have been to, you just have to watch the interaction amongst families or friends to see that we really are all the same. And here in Asilah, it is even easier to see with so many children around. Children do not see differences...its like they look straight into your heart, or your character, to decide if you are someone they like. It has nothing to do with religion, dress, etc. And by watching families with kids it is really easy to see that they do exactly what we do...and kids will be kids everywhere you go.
Since we have been here, I got a henna tattoo on my hand and talked Paolo into getting one on his arm (which he was not thrilled about). We also watched a drum troup from Ghana perform the other night. Wow, wow, wow. It was six guys, probably in thier early 20s, and they we so much fun to watch, it made me want to go to Ghana even more.
...But, I don't know if that is going to happen anymore. I have not heard from the volunteer organization for over 2 weeks despite numerous attempts to contact them. They have not sent me any info about where I will be staying, working, etc. If I do not hear from them by the time I get to Barcelona I will likemy not be able to go. I have to get a visa for Ghana, which I can do from Spain, but it will have to be expidited...and will cost a couple hundred dollars. I also have to book a ticket from Barcelona to Casablanca (which is where I will be flying to Accra from), but I hesitqte to do any of this if the volunteer organization does not have space for me or cannot organize things in time. So I guess I will know in the next 2 or 3 days. My other option is to go back to Southern Italy with Paolo, and meet Tiffany there. Not a bad second choice...but going to Ghana is really important to me, so I hope everything can work out.
Despite the fact that poor Paolo has been visited by our friend Montazuma (I think I have enough bacteria in my stomach from India and Thailand that foreign food/water does not affect me as much), we have been having such a great time together. It is so strange how easy and natural it is...and for me, it is scary as hell. It has stirred up a lot of unexpected emotions, and has actually caused me to think about Leslie more than I have in a long time. It is clear that the feelings I am having tell me that that chapter in my life is officially ending, and a new one is beginning. So, it is somewhat bittersweet...I am saying goodbye at the same time as I discover this amazing man that is here with me. Lucky for me, Paolo is so understanding, and I can tell him exactly what I am going through. He understands that a 6 year relationship is not going to be forgotten overnight, and that there will be residule emotions that arise.
The feelings that I feel now, I have only ever felt once before, but this time I know (hopefully) how to do things differently. Paolo and I do not know what the future holds, and we know that no matter what it is it won't be easy. So we can only go step by step (which he tells me on a daily basis) and see where it takes us. All I know is, I feel the happiest and most peaceful that I have in a long time. We laugh a lot, we can have quiet moments, we talk a lot--we make a good team. We will see where this leads, but I think I should probably start to learn to speak Italian...
Sorry....Paolo writing, ok now i 'm tired to wait here ........( I'm waiting for, maybe, 2 hours) i' m really apologise for you ( i know that you wanna know bunches and bunches things about us) but we'll see next days........
Paolo took over the computer...and Lisa, he learned "bunches" from you thank you very much...
So I guess this is my cue to end the blog. See ya en Espana...