Greetings from Berrechid, Morocco! 23 degrees Celsius (72 approximate degrees Fahrenheit) and sunny on November 8th. I’m in a 3rd story classroom in Mr. Harim’s British Language Academy. The landscape is endlessly flat, painted in various hues of brown, edged with tall concrete apartment buildings tinted in soft yellow, pink, sage and grey topped with satellite dishes and antennas.
Planes glide over the structures regularly on their slow decent to the Casablanca airport complex. I have been told that a large number of airport employees live here. This is a community under construction. Buildings in every direction in various stages of development. Wide four lane streets, busy little commercial ventures like the upholstery shop, hand car wash, fruit and vegetables vendor, bakery and plumbing services snuggle up against one another.
The school offers four English classrooms and two classrooms for French lessons. There are five Moroccan female teachers and up to 9 volunteers who speak English as either their native language or some as a second language. Right now we have volunteers from Sweden, England, China, Canada, Czech Republic, France, New Zealand, Australia and Spain. We are assigned to speak English with the students at the end of the lesson to reinforce the teaching and give the students hands on practice.
Because Morocco is a Muslim country there is no class on Friday’s – their religious worship day, and no class on Sunday either. Most days the classes begin after 1 PM and end at 9:30.
It’s now the end of my third week and I am off to see the Blue City of Chefchaousen established in 1471 in the Rif mountains in the northwest of Morocco. (6 hours by bus from Casablanca) This city was originally white and not painted blue until 1492 when the Jews fled the inquisition in Spain. They painted their homes, walls and streets blue because it made them feel closer to God.
Chefchaousen was also off limits to christians until 1920.
Chefchaousen is one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco and one of the most interesting for me. It’s not the beautiful and delicately carved Moorish architecture you find here and in many regions of Spain – it is the volume of surprises around every corner, the variety of designs on doors, walls, iron window grating and wild colors of scarves, shoes, djellabias and artworks.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, what follows is my narrative.
More coming on the visit to Chefchaousen …. Stay tuned!