It’s been a few days now since I have arrived to Fez. Getting to Fez was quite the ordeal, though. Everything went smoothly from Chicago to JFK airport. Once we boarded the plane and all the passengers settled, the pilot announced that we have been delayed due to the weather. This made perfect sense since there was lightning abound. The problem is that I had a connecting flight from Casablanca to Fez that only had an eighty-minute layover. At first, the pilot told us only twenty minutes, then an hour. I figured we could make up the time in the air, but once we actually started taxing it took us another hour until we finally took off, therefore we were two and a half hours behind schedule. I was still hoping that we would make up time in the air, but to my chagrin we didn’t make up all the time. We landed at 9:20am local time instead of 8:20am. My connecting flight was at 9:45am; as a result I missed it since there was not enough time to go through customs or for the airport staff to put my suitcase on the other flight.
I figured there would not be any issues from here on out. How wrong I would be. The airport staff stated that they would provide all of us on the flight who were going to Fez a free bus ride since the next plane to Fez did not leave until 11pm that night. There was about twenty of us total. Since our bags were meant to go straight to Fez the airport staff told us they were going to instead load them in the baggage claim with the bags from the passengers whose destination was Casablanca. Well, the baggage came and no sign of anyone’s bags that were going to Fez. Then they told us our bags went to baggage claim number ten instead of six. All of us went over there and only about three people found their bags. After discussing the issue with the airport staff about thirty minutes later they said they found the bags and put them on the conveyor belt for baggage claim ten. Lo and behold everyone got his or her bag except four of us, including me. At this point I was starting to get worried that they lost my bag and would never see it again. The four of us continued to press and they told us they found our bags at the original baggage claim (six). So we trudged over there and not surprisingly they were not there. More badgering of the airport staff and much patience on our part and about two-three hours after we landed they finally found our bags, al-ḥamdulillah!
The airplane company chartered a bus from Casablanca to Fez. At first I was told that it would only take two and a half hours and then four and a half hours. Well, it eventually took us six and a half hours. Luckily, many of the individuals on the bus were students too, but their destination was Ifrane and not Fez so the bus ride went by quick due to great conversations. They were going to study Arabic too, but at al-Akhawayn University. Originally when I got to Fez I had planned on going directly to the Arabic Language Institute in Fez (ALIF), which is where I will be studying this summer. Then I was going to meet the housing coordinator to set me up with the family I would be living with this summer. Due to all the earlier problems, though, by the time I arrived in Fez ALIF’s office was closed so I had to scramble to find a hotel in a city I had never been. Thankfully, I found one (Hotel Batha) in fairly close proximity to ALIF. I stayed there the night caught up on emails, twitter and the news and then went to sleep.
The next day I woke up, checked-out of the hotel and took a quick taxi ride to ALIF, where I set everything up and moved in with the family I will be staying with over the next two months. More on the family I am saying with and my initial thoughts on Fez in a later post.
This summer I will be living with a family in Fez, Morocco for nine weeks. I will be studying at the Arabic Language Institute in Fez. The first six weeks I will continue with my Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) education. The last three weeks I will be taking a course in Arabic called “Advanced Readings in Islamic Texts.” It will cover:
An introduction to the Qurān and the sciences related to it. Includes a survey of the history of the revelation (asbāb at-tanzīl), compilation (tadwīn) of the Qurān, principles of correct recitation (tajwīd) and discussion of exegesis (tafsīr).
In the past I have taken two courses related to these topics in English so I will have somewhat familiarity with them, but I believe it will be worthwhile and beneficial to take it in Arabic. Further, it will give me a unique educational opportunity that will be different than taking it in a Western educational setting.
I will be arriving in Fez in one week! Besides improving my Arabic and traveling through Morocco, I hope to learn more about Salafism, Islamism and Jihadism in Morocco. If anyone knows any good background reading materials, please send them my way! Thanks.
Welcome. I have meant to start blogging or I should more appropriately say re-blogging over the past few months. Now that my master’s thesis is complete I will actually have the time to write. This is my fifth blog. Previously, I had blogged about College Football (2003-2008), my semester living in DC (Summer 2007), the 2008 US elections (Fall 2007-November 2008), and living in Cairo (Summer 2009). The next two months this blog will mainly focus on my time living in Morocco this summer. Also, I hope, once I return to the States I will be able to write about stories of interest in the news as well as discuss my research and anything of note that comes from it. I hope you enjoy this blog and I look forward to your comments!