Some Seriously Good News

My year abroad just doubled overnight. Double the countries, double the adventure, double the fun – and half the cash. I’m one happy guy. Because I’m thrilled to tell you all that I’m going back to Morocco next summer!

Seriously, this is the best news I’ve heard in a long time. Not only does this mean that I’ll be spending hundreds less on flights and accommodation, but I’ll get the chance to do a homestay, something that’s been barred to me out here on account of my sex. So even though it’s only a six-week course, I’ll bet it’ll be a lot more intense than two out here – in a good way! I’ll be heading out there on my own, too, which should do wonders for both my Arabic and my confidence, as there won’t be that English crutch I’ve had ever at the ready out here. Last but not least, it’s only a skip and a jump from Spain, so I can lay some early foundations during my assistantship. Win win. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy – there’s a whole batch of new difficulties I’m going to have to face head on by breaking the mold and striking out alone – but for the sake of a smaller city that doesn’t live on its taxi service, I’m more than willing to make that jump. Thank you to everyone who’s been on hand throughout these last few weeks; to Shahnaz and Archie for telling me to keep smiling; to Banner and Anna, for suggesting that I go for it; to my teacher Aziza for giving me the go-ahead; and lastly to Andrew, for putting up with a month and a half of comparisons…!

The best thing of all is that half of August and September are now open to me to do with as I choose. I’m still umming and ahhing between volunteering at an orphanage in Peru and roughing it on the backpacking adventure of a lifetime in Ethiopia, but I don’t want to set anything in stone quite yet, so I’ll keep you posted as and when I make a decision. Freedom feels so good, I can tell you that at least. And freedom like this, or of any kind, is always worth fighting for. I’m not half cultured enough to find a pretentious quote for you on that count, so I’ll let my own irrepressible good humor convey to you just how on top of the world I’m feeling right now. Erin Shore is playing on my iPod and I feel like I could accomplish anything, even a return to the vegetable market in downtown Amman to stock up on a week’s worth of fruit and vegetables. We’re running low and my egg-based repertoire is getting thin on the ground. I think I’ll treat myself to a meal at Al-Multaka tonight before starting to think about my TLRP: a study of angels and demons in the Crusades with a particular focus on Saladin and Reynald de Chatillon. Exciting stuff!

Enough of all this shameless self-aggrandizement. I’ll end up with a head the size of a football field. To finish, here’s an Arabic riddle that came up on a game show on TV last night. The English equivalent might run something along these lines:

A red, red city with greenest walls; its citizens black, no keys at all

The Arab viewership got it pretty quickly. It’s a shame they couldn’t keep the winning streak going, though; the following round, a game of ‘Spot the Difference’, proved too great a challenge. After forty-five minutes, nobody had noticed that the girl in the second picture was missing a finger. I guess they were all of them too hung up on that most decidedly harām shoulder on show. BB x


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