Amine I met while on a train from Casablanca, Morocco to Marrakesh, Morocco. The train was 30 minutes late and I only had a total of 24 hours to explore both cities, before I had to fly to Istanbul (via London). I had just finished exploring Casablanca, which was just me walking around and photographing the Hassan II Mosque and the surrounding neighborhood, and then my taxi driver (who I could only speak to in French) dropped me off at the train station. When the train finally arrived, there we’re so many people on the train that I had to stand. I figured, well, at least I was sorta comfortable, but the 3 1/2 hour ride was gonna not be a fun ride =(..
That’s when Amine approached me and asked me a question in French, to which I replied, “pardon moi, je ne parle pas le Francais”, or “sorry, I don’t speak French”. He switched to English and introduced himself and asked me where I was from. I said New York and we started chatting. We we’re in the second class cars and we both we’re stuck standing, so he said we should check out the first class cars, as they would probably have seats. They would cost a little more, but seeing as we we’re both going to Marrakesh, a long ride, it was worth it.
Sure enough, we found seats and got to talking. Amine was 18 and from Western Sahara, heading to Marrakesh for school, where he studies economics. He asked me what I was doing in Morocco, and I explained that I was on a 9 week around the world trip, and this was a quick stop over from my previous destination, Portugal, before I headed to Istanbul to meet some American friends who I was going with to the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Even though I only had one day, I was so close because I was in Portugal, and I had already paid for the flight and had to fly from Marrakesh to get to Istanbul, so I was doing a quick day trip through the country, so I could at least say I was there.
I was fascinated because Amine’s English was very good and this was odd to me because the main languages in this region are Arabic and French, definitely not fluent English. He proceeded to tell me about his life in Western Sahara and Morocco, showing me photos of his life, his friends, etc. He loved American rock and metal music (the Chili Peppers are a favorite band), and he was a fan of American television, where he learned a lot of English. His photos on his smart phone showed a really fun home life and he and his friends we’re definitely the cool kids in town! He showed photos of his home, out partying with his friends, etc, and it was clear he loved American culture and we even talked about him maybe one day visiting New York!
By the time we arrived in Marrakesh, we had a few hours of really amazing conversation and we traded numbers and Facebook info. He invited me to stay with him at his home in Marrakesh, and the only reason I declined was because I had a hotel and it was already paid for, so I didn’t want to lose the money I spent. He helped me get a cab and I was on my way to my hotel in the Old City. Looking back, I wish I had taken him up on the offer, the hostel where I stayed was really cool, but empty, as it was the down season. I would have loved to stay and hear more stories. To this day, we both have standing offers to visit each other and I hope and have promised that I would return soon!
It’s really amazing the random people meet you never expect you will, in the most random of places. I felt a really cool bond with Amine, he reminds me of being young and ambitious and outgoing and fascinated by the world outside of my own. He will be a rock star soon enough, I look forward to the day we meet again!
(All photos from his Facebook page)