Thursday, May 30th, 2013 & Friday, May 31st 2013

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Today I took off from the JFK airport in New York on a seven hour flight to Casablanca, Morocco. My parents took it better than I thought they would, but then again, I didn’t see them after I got on the plane. I have never been on such a big plane, nor have I gotten a full meal in the air (dinner and breakfast!) so that was really cool.

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Being on the plane itself for seven hours wasn’t that great, but luckily I got to sit by the lovely Andy Blunk so I guess that made it a little better. Also the backs of the seats had computer screens on them with this super nerdy word game that kept me busy for a while. I had a pretty hard time wrapping my mind around the time change because we left New York around 4pm on Thursday and ended up in Casablanca around 10:30am on Friday, May 31st.

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I don’t think many people’s first oversea experience involves going all the way to Africa, so I was pretty excited when we touched down in Morocco. As a large group of Americans, we definitely stuck out. Outside of the airport, there was some kind of celebration going on. I have no clue so don’t ask, but I did take a picture.

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From the airport, we went to a resort that the airline gave us rooms in for our long layover (I think about nine hours). It was absolutely beautiful, as you can see from the view from Cassie and I’s window.

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After a nap (because there was no way I could sleep on that plane) we went to a beautiful mosque in Morocco and then to a market, which was my first exposure to haggling over prices. I didn’t buy very much there but I got a bracelet, a little ceramic pot, and some things for my mother. I had a hard time choosing just one picture to post on here of the mosque but it takes a ridiculous amount of time to upload things. Check out my facebook when I’m back in the states for more pictures!

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After a long day in Morocco it was back to the sky for five more hours to get to The Gambia!

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The Gambia

I have been in Africa for over a week now and this is my first blog post. That tells you two things – One, I have been busy! And two, wifi isn’t always readily available. (Though I would like to give a shout-out to my dad to let him know that when it does work, the internet here is actually better than our internet at home…) Anyway, please bear with me while I play catch-up for the next couple posts.

To start off, I will explain a bit about The Gambia and how I ended up here. The Gambia is a small country in Western Africa that is bordered by Senegal on all sides except for the coastline. I am currently staying in the town of Fajara, which is close to Bakau. Originally Gambia was a British colony and some signs of that former colonial power still remain. The one that I notice most often is the way they call fries chips.

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Anyway, the population is about 1.7 million people (according to good old wikipedia) and the current president is Yahya Jammeh. I’ll probably write a lot about him at some point, but for now I will just say that his presidency is controversial to many outsiders, though most of the Gambians seem to love him.

I am here as part of a group of about twenty Juniata College students for the next three (two now, I guess) weeks. We have been struggling with questions like how to define poverty, interacting with a bunch of interesting people, and doing a ton of dancing. After the group leaves, I will be staying for three additional weeks and doing an internship with the Gambia Press Union, which I will write more about in a later post.

Now I am going to go back in time for the next couple of posts to talk about my experiences so far!

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