One of the things I was looking forward to before coming here was the Moroccan spirit of hospitability, and I can say that I have not been disappointed. Besides the welcoming love and care from my host family, the people of Rabat have been very friendly.
From the moment I landed in Marrakech, people have been very interested and welcoming. The taxi’s in Marrakech were not my favourite (100 Dirham for a ride), but the ones in Rabat are very pleasant. Some of my fellow students believe it is just laziness, but I really enjoy taking a taxi in Rabat. All blue ‘petit taxis have a meter, which means no haggling on the price. This leaves all the space to make a new friend and practice your Darijah. In general, the taxi drivers are very friendly and usually it doesn’t take long before they ask “first time in Morocco?” and want to know which cities you’ve visited already.
Another great place to practice the language and meet new people is the Suq (market). Many of the people working at the market are friends of my host brother and are always up for a small chat. The same goes for the place where I spend my morning routine enjoying M’semen (Flatbread) with honey and coffee. Football is very popular here and the amount of Ziyech (pronounce Ziyesh) shirts on the
street is crazy. This makes it a well-liked topic to talk about, but also family and my thoughts on morocco are being covered. The people at the market in Rabat tend not to yell at you for attention or try to pull you towards their stand. This results in the M’dina (old city center) although crowded, being relatively calm. I have understood that the markets in Marrakech and Cassablance – bigger and more touristic cities – are much more chaotic and hectic.
Besides these ‘random’ meetings, there also are many possibilities to meet locals for more in-depth discussions or debates. You can do this at a weekly English-French language exchange at a cultural centre. Another moment to do this was when the Moroccan students of the School of Democracy program came to NIMAR for a network event. With some games, some drinks and some snacks we got to know these passionate people. They provided many interesting insights on political and religious subjects and many phone-numbers have been exchanged with an eye on the upcoming ethnographic field research. Overall, I have met some very interesting people and had cool conversations and a very fun afternoon.