March 16, 2019
In the morning, I took the bullet train, the Al Boraq, to Tangier. That in itself was a new experience, and surprisingly pleasant. I am the only teacher in our cohort going solo; everyone else is working with a partner, co-teaching, sharing the journey. I was traveling alone, well, sort of. Our in-country program officer for Irex, the talented guy that was keeping us all in line, Wyatt Pedigo, would be my traveling companion for the first few days. My special situation calls for a little extra support, and I am happy to have it.
My host, Rachid El Machehouri, picked us up at the train station, got us checked in at our hotel, and then took me for some sightseeing and bonding time. We hit it off from the very first, two enthusiastic teachers who believe in the value of global connections for our students. It helps that Rachid is dedicated to making sure I see as much of his home as possible, all the highlights. His pride in Tangier and Morocco is evident, and I knew I was blessed with an excellent host and tour guide from the start.
That first evening, I got the whirlwind tour of the Medina, St. Andrew’s Church, the Museum of the Kasbah, and two beautiful cafes with amazing views. We had tea, stopped in for a great classroom visit with one of his adult classes at the American Language Center, and then topped off the evening with a visit (and food!) at his home. I met his family and took home a big bag full of fruit and nuts to eat later. Again, have I told you about Moroccan hospitality?
My first impressions of Tangier magnify my observations of Morocco in general. Hospitality skills are top notch. Moroccans fluidly move back and forth between many languages without even noticing how amazing that is. And, traffic rules are merely suggestions; safety is maintained using a complex system of communication through eye contact and sign language. Oh, and if you love history and beautiful scenery, Tangier checks all the boxes. And, I do. I love it.