Orientation Days

Having made our way from the airport in Rabat to Meknes, the group’s first stop was the old city, where they spent their first Moroccan night in the lovely Riad Zahraa, a traditional Moroccan house turned into a travelers’ refuge. Students checked into their rooms, stowed their gear, and after a bird’s eye view of the old city from the rooftop, we were ready for a walk to Restaurant Salma and the traditional dish tajine. The pictures speak for themselves.

After our wonderful culinary introduction to old Morocco, we walked back past the Bab Mansour and the Plac Lahdim to Riad Zahraa for a sound night’s sleep – the first in 48 hours (or longer). Next morning we were ready to begin orientation. After checkout and a hearty breakfast, luggage was stored at Riad Zahraa and we walked from the old city, through downtown of the new city, to the Pyramid High School ({PHS), where our classrooms are located. Orientation began in earnest as Fouad Achahbar presented “Life in Morocco 101: The Do’s and Don’ts of Passionate Learners on Assignment in the Maghreb.” Exhausted and a bit peckish, the group hiked back to the old city toward the Thousand and One Nights Restaurant for another traditional Moroccan classic, Couscous.

As the restaurant was just around the corner from Riad Zahraa, the group was able to wend its way back just in time to retrieve luggage and meet their host families, who whisked them off to various and sundry parts of Meknes with a promise to bring them to PHS the next morning. That was THIS morning, when indeed everyone showed up (eventually) and we dived into our second orientation session. As is well known, hearty orienting makes for hearty appetite. We hiked downtown, identifying important landmarks and services, and headed for the Chicken Castle (Fr. Palais du Poulet) for lunch.

Afterward students had free time to familiarize themselves with the downtown and find their own way back to PHS. In the afternoon we walked to Dar Goshen for some down time and Moroccan mint tea. Host families picked up students there and a few snapshots were acquired. The rest will follow in another post. Tomorrow is the final day of orientation and then on Monday morning the regular schedule of language learning, lectures and activities begins that will last for the next six weeks.