I apologize for having gone so long without blogging, but with the university's unfortunate system of implementing Saturday classes to make up for days given as vacation, I was stuck in Ifrane last weekend. I did however make the most of my one day weekend by taking a trip to Azrou, a nearby town, to do some shopping with detours on the way to visit a forest populated with extremely friendly monkeys.
This was truly one of the most incredible experiences I have had while in Morocco. These monkeys run rampant in this patch of woods in what I believe to be (based on what we could understand from our taxi driver) Ifrane National Park. In the parking lot (if you can call the open area where cars stop a parking lot) there are a bunch of vendors who will sell you peanuts and apples to feed to the monkeys. What they don't tell you is that the monkeys couldn't care less about the peanuts; they are only interested in the apples. The only monkey I saw even take a peanut from someone immediately threw it to the ground angrily. The apples, on the other hand, were golden.
It may be silly to rave about how civilized the monkeys seemed, but they walked, sat, and emoted just like people! I even saw one drop an apple, pick it up, and tear off the dirty part before continuing to eat.
The best part of the whole experience was watching the baby monkey ride around alternatively on its mother's back or belly, dropping off whenever it pleased to get food or climb a tree. Sadly, I somehow managed to forget my camera on this excursion, so the few pictures I have are stolen from friends (photo credit to Brianna and Shelley), but I WILL return to get my own photos and fraternize with my fellow primates once more.
Also in the same location was either the biggest or the oldest tree in Africa, but again the translation of our taxi driver's information is a bit unclear. Either way, the tree was impressive. Hopefully soon I'll be able to add the photo someone took of me at the bottom of the tree to give some perspective on just how big it is.
The tree, no longer alive, is covered in graffiti, which somehow seems much cooler and less inappropriate to do to a tree when it is in Arabic.
In other news, not much has changed. Classes are going well, though I am struggling with the Arabic. I'm playing soccer again, which feels wonderful after five years off the field. Unfortunately, the main soccer season for girls is the spring with just one tournament this fall, but I'm hoping with all of my might that it will be somewhere new and exotic (teams in the past have traveled to Lebanon, so here's hoping!). I'm already sad about going back to the states and not getting to play, but maybe I can find some sort of rec league to fill the void.
I'm planning to travel somewhere this weekend, though I'm not sure where. Number one on my to-do list is to buy some soccer cleats, as playing in indoor shoes is less than ideal. I will not be so silly as to forget my camera again, so look forward to an update sometime next week on that excursion- I'm hoping for Rabat or Casablanca (or really anywhere that has a beach), but we'll see where the wind blows me.