Morocco is a different Africa from the one I know.
Street noise of passing cars and horns sound like that in any major U.S. city. Women and men in tight jeans with scarves and pea coats give makes it feel more like Europe. Rolling green land and chiseled mountains seem as foreign as working toilets and healthy children.
To me, Morocco is not Africa.
My Africa is hot and dusty. There is immense poverty and nothing but tan and brown. The people are a rich brown and ask about your family even if they don’t know you.
I do see hints of my Africa in small shops along the streets and kind strangers and I try to find the reassurance that I once hand in a small mud hut looking up at the stars but it isn’t there.
While here, I’ve stayed mostly in Rabat and took a day trip to Fes. Both cities are truly lovely and charming, but I can’t enjoy them.
My mind drifts to the fact that now I am homeless and jobless without a life plan. I think about my dwindling bank account and the fact that I don’t have a car, phone or even proper winter shoes for when South Dakota’s grueling winter greets me. I am nervous that I will feel out of place in America and that a deep loneliness will set in. I am terrified that all the good changes I’ve made in my life will suddenly give away to bad habits and I fall back into the misery I left behind seven months ago.
But deeper than these worries is a stronger, harder to control feeling — longing for a place I can’t go back to. I miss my mud hut. I miss my bed made out of sticks and wire. I miss waking up to the prayer call. I miss my morning walk to the CEG. I miss the feel of the warm sun. I miss having tea with fadas. I miss greeting people by asking about their health, work and tiredness. I miss hearing several tiny voices yell out “Hassia.” I miss being called Hassia. I miss the smiling faces that welcomed me each day. I miss laughing with my family. I miss sitting with people knowing it’s OK if I don’t say anything and that my presence is enough. I miss those people who became my family in three shorts months. I miss Dantchiao and I miss Niger.
All of these thoughts swim through my head as I try to absorb the scenic beauty of Morocco, but each time I find a piece of sincerity, my mind screams “I want to go home.” To my Nigerien home.
My friend Metasabia told me it was OK to miss Niger and that what we all do and that it’s normal to be nervous about returning to the States. She also told me to go after what I wan, because Niger and this experience taught her that no day is given. I try to find solace in that idea as I look to what will happen next in my life, but I am not sure I am ready for that phase. This loss is like a death and I am grieving. Right now, I’m depressed and I’m sure anger will eventually come and even acceptance, in sha Allah.
I hope some of these emotions will reside when I leave Morocco. It’s a beautiful country with a lot to offer, but I see it as the place my dreams died. I try to look beyond that, but I am not strong enough. All I can do is have faith that one day that instead of a graveyard and I will see Morocco as a gateway to something much grander.