As a new teacher at the ALC in Fez, it’s sort of hard to get to know your colleagues. Everyone is always waiting to use the computers or copy machine, on the way to class, grading, or just not there. That’s the reason it was such a nice treat to go to the Annual American Language Center teachers conference.
This year it was held in Agadir, a strangely western beach town where you don’t hear the call to prayer and you are more likely to see fat German tourists drinking beer than to see Moroccans praying. I didn’t know what to expect but am pleased with what went on there.
Since we were leaving at 4 am, I stayed the night in the house of a teaching colleague and her roommates in the Fez medina.It was pretty nice to arrive at their place and find everyone speaking English and a steady cast of young foreigners coming in and out all the time. Najma , my colleague, made a delicious curry for dinner and I met all of her roommates and we all had lots of discussions I don’t usually get the chance to have.
These were one of the coolest kids toys I’ve ever seen. They were three wheeled pedal buggies with fake horses on the front and steered with reigns. Essentally, pedal horse and carts.
Early the next morning, we walked to Batha where we caught a bus, joined the other teachers, caught a plane, and then arrived at the big conference in Agadir. The conference itself was really not what I had expected or hoped. The presentations were somewhat soft though some were pretty informative.
There wasn’t really a time built in to explore the place. It was however a good time to get to know colleagues from the Fez ALC and the other centers. It’s a pleasant thing given the frequency with which we see one another and don’t have the time to interact.
One major bonus was being able to have some incredible intellectual discussions with Eric, a linguist colleague who wrote his thesis under the tutelage of Noam Chomsky.
There was more than a little bit of drinking of booze in Agadir and while I didn’t get the chance to surf or swim in the ocean, there were a couple of swims in the pool and some sunbathing on the last day. It was nice to drink some beers, eat some decent western food, and share some conversation that went beyond weather, family, and gossip.
The last day there was only a half session day and so we had a bit of a chance to explore. One notable find was a sort of free animal park near the beach that housed the cutest little antelope, deer, a wallaby, and lots and lots of birds. Food wise, I ate some delicious fish dishes, a salmon ceasar salad, and a couple of scoops of delicious ice cream.
The ALC was pretty generous in putting us up in a four star hotel and feeding us. Even when meals weren’t provided, we were still able to expense 300 dirhams of food.
Overall, I can’t say that I found Agadir to be a place I want to return to, but then, I didn’t get the chance to leave the zone touristic so I”m not being entirely fair.
Agadir struck me as a bizarre mixture of the things I like least about Hawaii and Morocco tourism. The weather was great, it was nice to have a chance to eat western cuisine, certainly I enjoyed the pool, but overall the Morocco-Tiki culture doesn’t work for me here just like the Tiki-Morocco culture of Waikiki doesn’t work for me. The ocean and beach however, are timelessly perfect even if the water is red and the wind is cold.
The best thing about this trip was the chance to get to know colleagues, the chance to learn some activities and techniques that were new to me, and the chance to see and eat in a place with very little out of pocket expenses.
The return to Fez was far too late and long. Najma again said I could crash on her couch and since I had to teach the next day and was already exhausted, this was an offer that made life easier…at least until the guys showed up to start busting the tile at 7am. Four hours sleep and a very groggy Vago wandered out into the Medina and prepared the film discussion class, not an overly strenuous task given that we were seeing Pirates of the Caribbean, but you might be surprised to know what a thick text this simple film actually is. Maybe I’ll write about it soon.