Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sunday in Meknes

Today we had praise and worship with the Klaassen family and some of the workers with them (Fatua, Camille, and Jenny). John Klaassen has a very easy-going nature and a calming demeanor that translates itself into all those around him. He has a son that we believe was adopted. Andy is full of life and eager to please and gain the approval of his father. He too is very calm, but with an excitement that can be attributed to his youth. Seth, their older son was a sweet boy, but he seemed a little under socialized.
For lunch we ate at a grill. We were joined by Camille, Fatua, and Jenny. I had a mozzarella and tomato salad that tasted like feet. Fatua told me she was on a diet and ordered a salad that was pretty sick too.

After lunch we headed to Volubilis. Volubilis is an ancient Roman ruin located near Meknes. The site was amazing. We had a very interesting tour guide. The dolphin tile mosaics represented good luck, the toilets were a communal bench, and the bathroom had a vomit bar and tank. We had the opportunity to experience an impressive bit of history and take some great pictures.
I had a little breakdown at the ruins due to a picture that Jonathan had taken. I explained to the group that no matter what size I am, I will aways see the fat person that I was. It made for a slightly uncomfortable moment and I was afraid it might linger throughout the trip.
After touring Volubilis we headed to Moulayidris for mint tea. The holy city serves as an alternative to Mecca for Moroccans. However, Moroccans must visit the city five times to equal one visit to Mecca. All of this is monitored by the tally angels. When we were in Moulayidris, a town where until the early 80’s non-Muslims were not allowed, the situation was a bit uncomfortable at times. We were stared at more than we had been in any other place. The men looked at us like we were livestock to be bought and sold. The city was as though time had stopped there. The streets were narrow and made of stone. While there were a few cars, many of the things we think of as common were lacking. The children looked at us as though they had never seen people like us before. The experience was humbling, saddening, and unnerving all at once.
The drive back to Meknes did not seem far enough for all the thoughts and feelings I was having. I almost feel as though I was meant to be there at that exact moment and perhaps I missed something that I was meant to do.
Dinner was great! We went to an Italian restaurant that had an interesting decorating theme. It was a mix of southwest US, walnuts, and roman bling. It was very interesting to say the least. We had so much fun eating and talking. It felt closer to home than anything yet just because we were able to openly laugh and be ourselves, something that I had not felt I could do up to that point. For dessert we went to Disco Mac. Apparently the McDonalds in Meknes is quite the hot spot for young people. Camille and Fatua told us that couples met at McDonalds and sometimes they had live music and dancing. I was sitting with Fatua when she was telling me about her and Camille’s pastime of coming to Disco Mac to chat and laugh at the locals and their mating system. She said she was going to hell. That made me laugh because Candyce says that on a regular basis as a qualifier. Too funny.
Candyce and I have the unfortunate luck to be really good friends who both like to talk. I only call this unfortunate because we stayed up until 5am talking. What were we thinking? I feel like I know her on a very different level now as we have discussed faith, friends, misconceptions and ideas… and eyelashes, Tammy Fay, and boxers. She is an incredibly carefree and forgiving person. She doesn’t seem to hold anger towards anyone. Very admirable.

A bit more about Volubilis:
Volubilis was a Roman settlement constructed on what was probably a Carthaginian city, dating from 3rd century BC. Volubilis was a central administrative city for this part of Roman Africa, responsible for the grain producing in this fertile region, and exports to Rome. Volubilis was also administering contacts with the Berber tribes which the Romans never managed to suppress, but who only came as far as to cooperate with the Romans for mutual benefits.

Unlike so many other Roman cities, Volubilis was not abandoned after the Romans lost their foothold in this part of Africa in the 3rd century. Even the Latin language survived for centuries, and as not replaced before the Arabs conquered North Africa in the late 7th century. People continued to live in Volubilis for more than 1,000 years more. Volubilis was first abandoned in the 18th century, when it was demolished in order to provide for building materials for the construction of the palaces of Moulay Ismail in nearby Meknes. If that demolishing had not arrived, Volubilis could have become one of the best preserved Roman sites anywhere.

The site was amazing. We had an interesting tour guide. The dolphin tile mosaics were a sign of good luck, the toilets were communal, and the bathroom came complete with a vomit bar and tank. We had the opportunity to experience and impressive bit of history and take some great pictures.

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