A Week In Tetouan

Written By Geoff

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s Carpe Diem Salaam dancing in a circle and singing the ESPN theme song! Why, you may ask?

Dancing in a circle and singing the ESPN theme song is not only deeply rooted in Moroccan culture…
Who am I kidding. It is our “passing the torch ceremony”, a peaceful transfer of power from one captain to the next, and is not a part of Moroccan culture, but is a part of our own.

Tetouan was our home for the last seven days, a city embedded in Andalusian and Moroccan history. Its name comes from the Amazigh word for “eyes”, derived from the city’s location only ten kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea, allowing for observation of ships traversing the Strait of Gibraltar. Tetouan was the capitol of the Spanish protectorate in Morocco from 1913 to 1956, and this Spanish influence is easily seen throughout the architecture and art in Tetouan, as well as the Ensanche (spanish for extension), an intense urban expansion triggered by the beginning of the protectorate.

Enough about where we were: you can google that. You can’t google what we did this week though, so here it is.

On Sunday we spent the day at the small fishing port of M’diq, taking in the hot Moroccan sun and filling our stomachs wish fresh-caught seafood. Our party on those Mediterranean shores was rivaled only by those on Ibiza; with DJ Eliana on the mic blasting pop music from the 70s and professional dancers Tori, Kate, Kayla, and Gina tearing up the sands it felt like the day would never end. A highlight of the day’s performance was a reenactment of everyone’s favorite scene from Mamma Mia.

(Some context: Clemente is not well known for his sense of direction, and the Medina of Tetouan is challenging to navigate especially when new to its winding corridors.)
The usually cool and calm Mente, after being conned by a taxi driver, stormed off into the Medina, leading the group into the unknown for about 15 seconds before realizing that he had no idea where he was and that the rest of the group had stopped following and were standing in stunned silence at his sudden spurt of directional confidence.

Also on Sunday Vanesia, who held the role of Siri last week (records random + relevant questions then researches answers for the group), stole the show at our group meeting with a memorable performance of I Can’t Believe It by T-Pain feat. Lil’ Wayne, finally answering the question “who rhymed mansion with Wiscansin”, but prompting another: “who thought it was okay to rhyme beach house with Costa Rica”?

We spent the rest of our time studying Arabic at Dar Loughat, mastering the alphabet and much more. In the afternoons we toured the Medina, learned about immigration in Morocco, received henna tattoos, reviewed Arabic calligraphy, and finally understood what the calls to prayer we hear every day mean. At the end of the week we visited a modern art museum, and ended up creating more art than we saw.

On Wednesday of this week Brandis showed me a music video from a very popular Russian band.
I am not going to lie, the music was catchy. The video on the other hand…
(The song is troll by vremya i steklo if you want to see for yourself.)

For an update on Sheldon, please see the most excellent picture of those shown below.

If you’re wondering about how I’m faring, the food is good, the company is better, and I drew a portrait of Clemente (also featured below) that received high praise.

Our time in Tetouan may be finished, but our journey as a group is still just beginning.

Thalla frask,


Everyone (including Clemente) having a great time making Clemente into a mermaid.


Another day in Arabic class.


Getting our feet wet in the Mediterranean.


A look inside a restored ruin on our tour of the Medina.
Having a blast during a break between class and a presentation.


Creating art at the art museum.


Bad Album Cover #3 .


A wild Sheldon, sipping a fine coca-cola, in his natural habitat.


Clemente in 40 years.