Monday, November 21, 2005

What I've Learned So Far

*When it's cold outside, it's colder inside.

*4 AM feedings aren't just for drunk college kids.

*It doesn't matter which way you approach it, there's just no getting around not peeing on your left foot when using the turkish toilet.

*Never say "hey, I like this song" in a cyber cafe. You will hear it over and over and over. Nobody can handle that much Celine Dion.

*The National Pastime may be soccer but "rock throwing" comes in at a close second.

*Enough salt and cumin will make anything edible.

*Don't repeat anything you hear. You might end up converted or married and not know it.

*There's no such thing as privacy. There's no such thing as privacy.

*Don't yell out "where's my shotgun when I need it" when you see a wild turkey in front of your house.

*Bad Moroccan boy bands and soap operas DO exist.

*It's okay to wear your PJ's all day, everyday, day after day.

*Going to the "Big D" don't mean Dallas! Diarrhea becomes part of your everyday language and experience. Let me tell you, it ain't easy using the turk when you have the Big D. Nor is it recommended to have the Big D on a 9 hour bus ride.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Views from the Bus

I went to visit my final site this past week and the scenery from my 9 hour bus ride was amazing. I started off in Azrou and went south to Tinghir. I saw everything from desert scapes and palm trees to snow-capped mountains. At one point, I saw the desert in the foreground and out of no where this mountain covered in snow pops up. It's quite a contrast but breath taking nontheless. The return trip was even more incredible. Apparently, while I was in the south, it snowed a lot up in the north. Everything was covered in snow. For those of you who thought I was going to the desert and was going to be sweating the whole time, think again! It is freaking cold here! Although I've always enjoyed the beauty of winter, I've never been able to cope with it very well. There's just too much Florida blood in me. Currently, as I'm sitting in this freezing cold internet cafe and writing this blog, I have on two sets of long underwear (both tops and bottoms), a sports bra, undershirt, t-shirt, long-sleeve t-shirt, sweater, scarf, hat, cords, wool socks, winter boots and a double lined winter jacket and I'm still freezing my buns off! Most of the Moroccan buildings are built out of concrete and there's no form of insulation. There's apparently no heating systems in Morocco either. Add to what I have on a themal sleeping bag, two heavy blankets, a throw blanket and a carpet and that's how I try to go to sleep every night. I can't wait to get back to my final site which is a swiya (little) bit warmer!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Aid Al Fitre

Me and crazy Mahalou

Dance party with all the kids

I'’m back from my CBT and I have to say that the last few days were quite eventful. First of all, Ramadan ended last week. The day after the ending of Ramadan is a big holiday called Aid Al Fitre. It'’s basically a day when family and friends visit each other and eat A LOT of cookies and drink A LOT of tea (it'’s been several days since Aid Al Fitre and I think I'm still on a sugar high.) The night before the holiday, I asked my host mom what time we were supposed to get up and she said 8. Well, come 7:30 AM, I wake up to a group of about ten people hovering over me and saying "mbruk leid, mbruk leid" (happy holiday.) I had no clue what was going on and thought maybe I was dreaming, but I wasn'’t. The best part of it was I didn'’t know a single one of them. After staying at the house for a few more hours and eating more cookies and drinking more tea, the girls from my class came by and picked me up for the day. We went around town and visited with several families. I had lunch with Lauren's family, also my family, and that was an event in it's own! Suaad was trying to teach us how to properly eat cous cous Moroccan style. Basically, you grab a handful of it and form a ball and roll it around in your hand. It sounds easy but it really isn't. I made a few attempts and got the hang of it after a while. Our mahalou, grandmother, also had lunch with us. Let me tell you what a character she was! She's really old and doesn't really say much. Frequently during lunch, she would get up, walk to the door, pause for a moment and then turn around and go and sit back down. This was the first time I was around her so I was a little confused. I looked at Suuad for an explanation and she just gave me that "don't ask" look. A little boy was sitting next to me and I was trying to tell him to eat. I kept telling him to "tsh, tsh" which is "eat" in Tamazight but his mother told me that he spoke only Darija. I then told him "kuli" which is the Darija word for "eat". Well, about 5 minutes later, the grandmother, who has yet to say anything at this point, just looked up and said "tsh"! She had just realized that I was speaking Tamazight. Suaad and I looked at each other and in unison burst out laughing and almost choked on our cous cous. That was all mahalou said that day.

After several more house visits, I finally made it back to my host family. After dinner, all the adults left the room and I was left with 6 kids. I entertained them for a while playing 'duck, duck goose' and 'simon says'. Then Fasaal, my 14 year old cousin, put on a belly dancing DVD and we all just started dancing. This may sound innocent but actually it's very "hshuma" or forbidden in Moroccan culture. Men and women never dance together. I figured since they were all really young and no adults were around that it wouldn't be a problem. As far as I knew, it wasn't. We danced all night and had a blast. Even the youngest kid, a year and a half old, danced with us. Regardless of all the sugar I consumed that day, I was exhausted and had no problem sleeping that night. I woke up at my normal time the next morning and was very please to know there were no strangers hovering over me.