I’m writing from Morocco, from the capital city of Rabat. This is where I attended and graduated from high school, where I became aware of international politics, where I discovered chocolate crepes and brochettes (grilled, spiced shish kabobs), where I learned dressage and vaulting, French and a few words of Arabic. Where I made friends and where I grew up. Being here has brought back a lot of memories of people, sights, sounds and smells. I’ll write part two of my Moroccan travels later. Tonight, I want to give you a feel for Rabat. 
This is Rabat
The dusty smell of the air, like honey and wood smoke
mingled together.
The occasional waft of tobacco or the acrid stench of urine.
The rattle of petit taxis. 

The forceful onslaught of Arabic. 
Al Humdu Allah!
Bartering women and merchants.
Kaftans and djlabas, oncoming traffic, 
cats scurrying
beneath stairs.
The touch of a breeze at sunset, exactly the temperature of
Piles of trash. 
Brochettes grilling at the entrance to the medina.
Hibiscus and palm trees. 
Epiceries with fruit, cheap chocolate behind glass, juice in
cartons, and boxes piled to the ceiling.
Couscous, small and pliable, spilling on the floor.
Vegetable and meat tagines. 
Fresh squeezed orange juice. La jus d’orange presser.
Patisseries. Almond cookies, chocolate cookies, pistachio cookies.
Parlez vous Francais?
Oui. Oui.  

Bonjour, Madame.
Leather poufs, polished wood, brass lamps and stacks and stacks of rugs.
For you good price! Come look!
Polished stone, silver and amber.
Durhams. Fifty, one hundred, a thousand. Coins and crumpled bills.  

Croissants and crepes.
The press of the sidewalk on throbbing feet.
Beep Beep Beep of car horns at green lights.
Fine red dust powdering the cracks of the sidewalks.  
Arabic stop signs.
Kisses on cheeks. Labess,
Cafes and restaurants bustling at night.
Mint tea and Moroccan bread.

Men in little chairs on sidewalks, smoking and talking.
Women in scarves, jeans, kaftans, t-shirts, skirts, and leather.

Black hair, black eyes, henna and silk.

The dissonant rise and fall of Arabic music.

This is the city I love. This is Rabat.
The Moroccan flag flying above King Mohammed V’s tomb