After two months of living with my wonderful host family, it is time to bid them adieu. The final month of my study abroad program is the ISP (Independent Study Project) period and in that period we are responsible for our own housing, our own travel plans, food, and other expenses. We were all a bit intimidated when it came time to find a house to rent! And of course, after two months of taking classes with the same 12 people, what could be better than getting a house together? Not all of us are living together right now as Alex is living with the guys from another program and some of the girls need to be in other cities for their research, but that leaves ten of us renting a beautiful house with one bedroom, two large salas with very comfortable couches if I say so myself, and a western style bathroom. It also has a fairly decent kitchen and sitting room! The best part however is that the house comes with a pet. Finally, I can wake up every morning to the shrill chirping of a bright yellow parakeet… Now I remember why I hated it when my little sister had pet finches in her room.
We had three days from the final day of class to the official end of our homestay. I spent those three days packing and bringing my stuff over one suitcase at a time, one bag per day to the new house. I explored to supermarkets for ingredients for food, and I looked up stove top recipes for my favorite treats that usually require baking. I waited until I officially moved out to go buy perishable ingredients and for dinner on my first night in the house, I made a nice rice pudding. Of course, before I could make the rice pudding, I had to find vanilla. In the supermarket, they had no flavorings of any kind. In the baking section, they had pre-packaged mixes, rose water, and orange blossom water. They also had vanilla sugar, orange sugar, and various types of chocolate. No pure or synthetic extracts of any type! I wound up asking the program coordinator how to say vanilla in French and Arabic and wandering up the streets in the medina to every singe spice vender…. Vanille? Vanille? La (NOT) sucre! Finally, right before I gave up and caught the bus to go down town to a big supermarket with an international section, I struck gold… or bean really. Gourmet whole vanilla beans! When I asked at the final vendor, they began to say no, then paused and fetched a bag from behind the register and asked if it had vanilla beans in it and lo and behold! I bought three whole vanilla beans for 36 Dirham… $1.50 US per bean. When I told my mom she started hinting that I should look up how to make homemade vanilla extracts since it’s higher quality than anything you can buy in a store and with the price of the beans here it’s way cheaper apparently! My mom said in the US vanilla beans cost about $5.00 per bean… I’ve never bought or used whole vanilla beans before so it was a new experience.
Next weekend I’m going to have my host family over for lunch so they can see where I’m living and sample some all-American food. I’m feeding them potato salad, coleslaw, rice pudding with raisins and toasted almonds, and southern-fried chicken like my grandma makes! Hopefully they like it! And hopefully I’ll be able to find all of the ingredients for this more efficiently and with less hilarity than finding the vanilla.
I’m down to exactly 32 days… and I have 26 days to write a 25 page paper on a migration issue in Morocco! I need to begin reading and researching and analyzing if I’m to finish it on time while also having the ability to start travelling and seeing more cities in this fair country. Until next time!