Following the footsteps of the Romans
My roommate and I decided to travel to hamria to do a little souvenir shopping around the medina. Little did we know, the main part of hamria where we walked around before was pretty much shut down.
As we were walking around, a Moroccan man overheard our English conversation and introduced himself as Mufasa. He inquired about our reason in hamria, and we simply said we were trying to do a little souvenir shopping and that’s when he mentioned Al-Burj, an outside market just outside of main hamria.
All of the stores up and down the streets were closed, but Al-Burj, Mufasa said, was very much alive with small shops and markets and that this was where a lot of bartering takes place in order to get better deals. Mufasa then hailed us a taxi and my roommate and I ventured to Al-Burg where we were able to barter at a shop for some nice souvenirs.
Mufasa also taught us a very polite way of saying thank you in Arabic, and I have used this saying almost every day. This phrase is barakallah oufik, which translates to “God bless you.” I’ve found that many Moroccans are always eager to teach new words and their meanings to me and my group because they are excited that we are taking such an immense interest in their language.
This weekend, the NCUSAR had scheduled a day trip to visit Volubilis, the important former Roman city located in between the Moroccan cities of Rabat (the capitol) and Fez. The Romans began building the city of Volubilis around 40 AD in order to keep control of this North African region, which was successfully occupied by the Greeks, Berbers, Jews, and Carthaginian merchants. Our tour guide went on to explain that the city of Volubilis was as far south as the Romans came to controlling Africa. These Roman ruins were not only amazing to see, but also an indulgence of past culture.
This is the Triumphal Arch of Volubilis. It is placed at the end of the main street within the Roman site. After the Triumphal Arch, there is nothing to be found of ancient ruins; only fields and grass. Its size is impressive, and it is still in good shape.
A quick note about my group …
The group I am living with here in Meknes is a very entertaining and diverse crowd. When we all met at the Casablanca airport, I was not expecting our group to be as close-knit as we are now. We’ve all grown very close in the past two weeks that we’ve known each other.
I’m proud to say I’ve made the greatest memories of my life so far with my new friends. There has been so much laughter amongst us, and I have a myriad of pictures I have been taking to look back on and relive these six weeks all over again.
This has actually been a rough week for me overall. My classes were a bit challenging the past couple days and the frustration and loss of sleep did not help too much. However, the Volubilis trip was absolutely the highlight of my arduous week.
There is an Arabic calligraphy workshop scheduled for my group this upcoming week and I am really looking forward to it. I will do my best to share any of my artwork that I deem worthy!
Until then, bislaama.
— Michael Curry, junior digital forensics major, Middle East studies and criminal justice minor