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Casa or Caca?

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.

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3 thoughts on “Casa or Caca?

  1. Jalyn McNeal says:

    Useful French phrases:

    Je ne parle pas français = I don’t speak French
    (Zhuh nuh parl pah frahnsay)

    Tu parles anglais? = You speak English?
    (To parl anglay?)

    Est-ce que tu peux m’aider? = Can you help me?
    (Eska to puh mayday?)

    J’ai besoin de trouver = I need to find
    (Zhay buhswan duh troovay)

    Où? = Where?
    (Ooo)

    Nothing else is coming to mind. Good luck!

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  2. Looking at your photographs remind me of the first time I flew. The clouds look as if I could walk on them . I can feel your excitement! Halah, I am so glad you are getting to have these experiences.When Didi and I had your father this is what we dreamed of for him and his children. We are so proud of you all and love you so much.We will try to keep up with your summer, but please know we are very interested in all that you do and see.
    Didi wants an address so he can wriite you a letter. He says something you can hold and read. I have a box full of letters he wrote to me in our earlier years Take care now . Love you. MaGrace and DiDi

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  3. Pingback: Getting “Randomly Selected” as an Arab-American | Halah Grace Flynn

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