Saturday, November 28, 2009
Permanent Site Update
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11/28/09 (I think. I’m never entirely certain what day/date it is.) I do know that today is l-3id mqqurn, a/k/a as the “great feast”. Today each Islamic family will slaughter an animal. For many it will be a sheep, but for those that cannot afford a sheet a goat or lamb will be slaughtered. The animal is then eaten in an orderly fashion usually starting with the liver, heart, stomach and lungs. Day two we move on to the head and feet, etc. I’m glad I’m a country girl and that my family hunts. The slaughter wasn’t as bad as I anticipated, but uncertain if I’ll be able to eat meat for a couple of days. Once we’re into eating familiar parts, I will probably be fine. Meat is a precious commodity and to think we have LOTS to eat in the next few days.
The family has been as excited about this holiday and we are about Christmas. Family and friends have stopped in for atay and l-kiks (tea & cookies) My host father bought new clothes for the children to wear today. Today they have dressed me in a fancy green kaftan type dress, complete with a black zif (scarf). I’m thinking this is not a look I should adopt for everyday wear! If I can attach a picture of me, I’m thinking you’ll agree that it does nothing for my round face. I don’t know what the rest of this celebration entails, but I’m sure I’ll learn in the coming days. I intend to celebrate a bit of Christmas with them. Uncertain what that will be at the moment, but the cultural exchange is good for all of us.
I really do like this family. They have opened up their arms and welcomed me in. I’m guessing it was an arranged marriage since most of them are here in Morocco, but there is a genuine love and caring amongst the mom and dad. They engage in great conversations and you can see that my mom definitely has her opinions, but guessing in the end she would concede to whatever he wishes. She takes wonderful care of the family and rarely leaves the homestead. Of course, she has animals to tend to, cooking/cleaning/washing to do for the family and none of this is done with the modern conveniences we are so accustomed to. She and I did walk down to the village one day and took lunch to my dad who was working on plumbing a new s-sbitar (birthing center) for the area. You could see how very proud she was of him and she just wanted to watch him work. I think she would have stayed all day. And, he is an involved dad. Almost every night he does homework with the kids. I’m guessing that both my mom and dad went to school through 9th grade or so. My mom grew up in Ouarzazate, but I don’t think she has been back to that area since she married Hussain. Too much to do here is what she tells me – no time. She has received several phone calls from her family since I’ve been here and certainly last night wishing her happy holidays.
Last Sunday I went on a great walk with the children. Had I known it was going to be such a long walk I would have worn my tennis shoes, but the clogs worked just fine. They run over the shrubs and rocks like wild animals. They climb trees like zadood s (monkeys) Eventually other children joined us and they had a real song fest in the shade of a tree. It was quite delightful to see these kids have a wonderful time without the need to have “things” to make it happen. Again, I hope to have a picture of what the countryside itself looks like. I call them hills, they call them mountains surrounding me. Nevertheless, a hike when you’re walking them.
The days here have been sunny and warm. I’m guessing around 75-80. Rain is predicted for Monday and this will be about only the 4th day of rain I can think of since I arrived in Morocco last September. The rain would be most welcome. But, as the sun goes down, it does cool down. By the time I go to bed I’m dressed in about three layers or so and welcome crawling into bed. I have a hard time thinking they really get as cold as Michigan and I can’t imagine much snow either. Let’s hope I’m not surprised and that the winter is milder than they lead me to believe.
This site has had a PC volunteer for the last few years. I think I am the third here. They have a very active association that sells goat cheese and saffron. The president of the association is a 47 year old illiterate woman. She is driven and wants improvement for the area. I’m not certain of the role I will play? She is strong-willed and I’m told challenging. My age will work to my advantage in our relationship, I hope. They have a relatively new, very clean building where they process the goat cheese. They currently deliver cheese to places in the area, but I think they would like more of an on-site retail business. Saffron – what a labor intensive process that is. Saffron comes from a crocus flower. Inside that flower are about three red sprigs that have to be taken by hand out of the flower. I don’t know when the season for harvest is, but it’s not now. I see bags of crocus bulbs sitting around, waiting to be planted I would assume.
Right now I have to concentrate on the language and I continue to find it most challenging. I have found a tutor who I think will be good, but he is very busy and I’m only able to meet with him one a week. There is a young woman living in the apartment below the apartment I will move to in January who speaks decent English. She has some college education and she is here working at the association with young women teaching computer skills, some English, etc. I’ve asked her if she is willing to work with me too and I hope to start sessions soon.
I was lucky and had the opportunity to spend time with the PCV (Amy) that’s been here before she left. She introduced me to lots of people and showed me around town. I am also able to rent the space she has been living in and bought some home furnishings from her. The gray, cement tall building will be my new home for the next two years. Doesn’t look that appealing, but it will be better than the adobe homes that are more typical here. Even though I’m not able to officially move in until January 1st, the landlord has given me free access to the apartment, so I am slowly working getting things settled. Amy was not fond of the kitchen and didn’t like to cook much, so I have purchases to make there. I also bought a table and chairs. If you’re into white plastic, you’d love it!! The biggest problem with buying things is that you have to somehow lug them home with you in the taxi since local business don’t offer much. THEN, since the taxi lets you off in the center of town, you have to lug everything UP the inclimb to my apartment. Hey, I’m a 60 year old woman – not always an easy feat. I did buy a 3-drawer unit at the hanut in town and a young man carried them up for me. Age does have a few benefits I guess.
We have a young man, Nortin, who lives with my family. I’m guessing him to be about 15 years old or so. I’m told that his dad died and he has been living primarily with this family since he was 6. Nortin heads out everyday with the assidun (mule) to gather grass I’m guessing for winter feeding. One day last week he came into the kitchen with a gunny sack folded down and in it a very young goat. The goat’s mother didn’t have milk and he brought it home to be tended to. This goat is the cutest thing I’ve seen. He looks like a patchwork quilt – he’s gray, black and white with little ears that curl up at the edge. I fed him his first bottle of milk. My mom milks the cow and feeds the little guy several times during the day. He has gotten so much stronger and you should see him run and play. Like a puppy with his tail wagging like crazy. He obviously likes people and loves to suck on your fingers. I love him and don’t want to think that someday they will likely eat him! I’ve attached several pictures of my new little friend.
Well, til I sit down the next time guess this is it. Love and miss you all, Bslama