Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy New Year!

Sarah, Jonathan and I at restaurant in Marrakesh for New Years

Sarah getting coal placed on her eyes in preparation for s'sbae

At s'sbae with women. Incidentally, the baby I'm holding is not the baby that the s'sbae was being held for.

I hope that everyone is happy and excited about starting a new year. I certainly know that I am. Thanks to all that wrote or called to wish me happy holidays. I believe it was the first Christmas I've spent away from home so it was great to hear a few familiar voices. I had a quiet Christmas with a few other volunteers. We borrowed a friends apartment that doesn't live very far away from us and ended up just hanging out and making dinner. Since all of us are still living with host families, it was nice to be able to get in the kitchen and make our own food. New years was a different story and not so quiet. Some friends and I went to Marrakesh for the weekend. What an amazing place! We had reservations at a restaurant in town that served us a 30 course meal, or at least it seemed like it. We had everything from sushi, shrimp and pate to grilled fish and filet mignon. They even served sorbet to cleans the palette. All this was topped with desert and a champagne toast at midnight. Now, I don't know about you but I certainly have not been accustomed to this kind of service or food over the last 4 months. On any given day I am served a tagine of carrots, potatoes and maybe a little meat on top of it. Sometimes I have cous cous and I get really excited if I'm given a spoon to eat with. So, needless to say, I was in heaven. We topped the night off with a live band (drummer from Philly and guitar player from Seattle) and lots of dancing.
Aside from Christmas and new years, the past few weeks have been filled with much excitement. Sarah, a volunteer that lives near my site, invited me to a s'sbae at her host family's house. A s'sbae is a party or celebration for the birth of a new baby. Sarah's host sister had just had a baby boy. The s'sbae usually lasts for a week or so. Different people come on different nights. I, of coarse, went on the day that all the women were invited. I got to the house before all the guests arrived so that I could help the family with all the preparations. Right before the women showed up, Sarah's host family decided to dress me up in the usual Moroccan attire. They had me in a full on jalaba with hair wrap to match. I guess they didn't think that my jeans and sweater were sufficient. The next thing I know, there were 80 women in the house; They came in, greeted everyone and sat in the large living room all along the wall. From there, Sarah and I took over. We went around and served tea and cookies to all the guests. I thought my waitressing days would be over when I came to Morocco but I guess I was wrong. Every now and then, the women would break out into songs. I wasn't quite sure what they were singing about but it was upbeat. They wanted Sarah and I to dance for them but we respectfully declined. We had drawn enough attention for ourselves just by being the only Americans in the room. From there on, the celebration continued but I had to get on a transit and go back to my site.

I want to say a great big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jake Addy! I have no clue where you are in the world (are you still in Alaska?) but I hope you have an amazing 24. It is the 3rd, right? Not the 13th? Just kidding. Happy birthday.

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