It’s 7 a.m. Our overnight flight to Casablanca was canceled, and since 4:30 a.m. we’ve been waiting in lines for buses and bureaucracy to catch a morning departure. I’m not tired; I’m on the edge of my seat, partly because of my excitement, but mostly because my breakfast stipend got me a chocolate muffin and a mango smoothie, and now I can’t sit still.
Sitting at the gate, I’m flipping through my Moroccan dialect book while two veiled women sit on either side of me. They occasionally look over my shoulder at my book, but mostly they talk loudly over me. I’d like to say that I can understand them, but I literally just cracked open this Arabic book, and that’s a very legitimate use of the word literally. I don’t know anything yet. You’d think I would have paged through during my previous two flights, or even over night at the hotel in Montreal, but I can assure you that people-watching has kept me very busy.
People from all over the world are on this flight, and all hundred of us have been herded through buses and security gates together. Some are going on vacation; some are returning home, but we’re all in the same terminal, our fate in the mercy of accommodating airport employees.
The language barrier among us is evident as a nearby attendant sorts us into lines, explaining only in French. The passengers mumble confusedly in English, Spanish and Arabic. My attention bounces from one foreign conversation to another, and settles on the cries of two Moroccan toddlers yelling “caca!” and bursting into fits of giggles at the dismay of their mother, whose blushing face peeks out of her veil to shush them. “Caca!” They take turns shouting, either one louder than the last. Their mother can’t help but laugh a little, and neither can the other passengers who are trying to hide their stares and snickers.
I’m less than 24 hours into my journey, and still two days away from the first day of school, but the basis for my first cultural lesson is sure: poop humor is, has been, and always will be universal.