Monday, December 21, 2009
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12/20/09 Happy, Happy Holidays Everyone and I hope your New Year is one of the best years of your life!!
I’m still uncertain how my Christmas will actually be, but I will celebrate with my host family. Since Morocco is primarily a Muslin country, this holiday is completely foreign to them. Part of my purpose for being here is to share the American culture, so I intend to introduce them to this holiday. I won’t go into the religion part, because with my limited language abilities, it would be too hard to even attempt. I have a couple of evergreen branches that I have wired together and I have a tree of sorts. The kids and I are making ornaments and stockings and I have small presents for everyone. I’m intending to make pizza for Christmas dinner because my family has never had it, the ingredients can be found in my town (minus the pepperoni) and hopefully they will enjoy it. I plan to make some holiday cookies in the next day or two. Should be all set for “Noel” as they call it. I’ll let you know how it goes the next time I write.
Yesterday I went on a hike of all hikes. Earlier in the week I was asked if I had plans for Sunday and I said “No, I was all theirs “ and smiles broke out across their faces. What was I in for? After breakfast, I was told to put on my sport shoes and it was gestured that we were heading out across those mountains – really? Yep, away we went. The donkey was loaded up (I couldn’t tell what was put in his baskets) and we were ready. I have a friend who is fearful of heights, this would not have been the walk for him. Didn’t have a watch and really don’t have a clue how far we actually walked. We climbed, there were loose rocks, beautiful views, and it was a sunny day, albeit a bit chilly at times, they should have told me to bring a hat! We saw goats, goats and more goats. Finally my host mom indicated that we were heading “over there” - still quite a ways to go and more hills to climb. The kids ran through these hills like the goats we see. Gosh to be young again! My host dad is a plumbee and he drew me a picture some time ago of what I thought were patches of tilled soil and I thought an irrigation system since there are natural springs everywhere. Yep, I was right and that is where we ended up. They had kind of a make-shift lean-to made to block the wind if need be, complete with a tea pot. There were patches of soil that were tilled and a couple of men that I recognized were already there, along with my host dad. These men worked with kind of a pick axe/shovel tilling the ground. Talk about back breaking work! Where was that John Deere when you wanted it? Impossible to get to this site silly girl, what are you thinking? Anyways, my host mom brought along the makings of a stewed meal and we got the fire going and the vegetables cut into the pot and lunch was underway. We then joined the men and we all planted crocus bulbs. If you remember, this is where saffron comes from and it is a cash crop for them. We had three big gunney sacks of bulbs to plant and with all of working it went along quite fast. We then had a great lunch, complete with clementines. It was one of the best days I’ve had here in Morocco. I noticed seedling trees and asked about them and my host dad plans to plant apple, almond, olive and some other kind of tree also in this spot since he can irrigate them. I don’t know if they own this land or if ownership is even possible here or if they just found a relatively flat piece amongst the hills and staked claim, but it seems to be theirs. They said they would call me in the spring when it is time to pick crocus flowers so that I can experience it too and I’m betting they will. It was on our walk back home that I gathered my evergreen branches for the makeshift tree we will have.
My host family keeps growing and growing. After we got home Sunday afternoon, we learned that another of my host mom’s sisters would visit with her family. You could see that she was not particularly pleased with the news, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of planning or announcements, they just come. We were tired!! Anyways, they came and they were a lovely family. I have now met three sisters and two brothers of my host mom and her mother and father. They all live in Ouarzazate (a/k/a Oz). I have their telephone numbers in my phone and I’ve been instructed to call them and to visit. Since I’ll be here two years, I will certainly try to do this.
Several weeks ago Anna (the PCV in the nearby site) and I went to Marrakech (a/k/a Kech) for the weekend. It was a 4+ hour bus trip through windy, mountainous roads. Thank goodness for Bonine, not sure I could have made it without having taken this motion sickness pill. We met up with some other PC volunteers on the bus so we tagged along since we had never been there before. We stayed at a clean hotel for a little over $5 a night. Granted the showers were cold and the toilet was in the hallway and shared by all, but what do you expect for this $$? Hotels I’ve stayed at here (within my PC budget) don’t provide towels or toilet paper for that matter either. Our hotel was very near the “jamaa lfha” or the big colorful square you may have seen pictures of if you’ve ever seen pictures of Kech. This place is hoppin….. There are vendors everywhere, music playing and snake charmers entertaining the crowd. The snake charmers were on the “to see” list so we were delighted when we could scratch that from the list. We later learned that the snakes actually have most of their mouths sewn closed with only a small opening left so that their tongues (if you will) can come out and that they frequently starve to death since they can’t eat. Took some of the “charm” out of them for me. We visited the Margane (sp?) which is a large Wal-Mart supermarket while in Kech and found some things we had not seen elsewhere in Morocco. I thought it was a bit pricey, but it did have some of those hard-to-find things and obviously it wasn’t mean for the typical Moroccan to shop at. Had to catch a bus back in the morning so it was a fast weekend trip. Probably not something I will do too often, and a three-day weekend would make it more enjoyable.
My host family loves music. They are always beating on something to make a rhythm and singing. They are usually smiling and laughing too. Well, you should see my host sister dance. Is this just born in them? She is a beautiful little 7 year old and does she have the belly dance moves. I took belly dance lessons for a year and NEVER had near the grace that she has. She is wonderful to watch – think she can teach me something? Watch out family, Thanksgiving 2011 and I’ll be teaching you some new moves!
If I’m lucky, I will post a few pictures along with this blog. If not, maybe next time?
Again, best wishes for the best of holidays. Til we chat again, love & hugs to all. Bslama Linda