This is sort of backtracking a week or so, but it’s a story I wanted to share, because it’s about one of the highlights of my time in Morocco so far. It’s not that it’s exciting or adventurous or anything like that; it’s just one, long, really good day, especially since most days, I just study Arabic for six hours a day. When I do get a break, it’s special.
Last Sunday, I woke up at 5:45am and went running with Khalil and Marwan, my brothers, as well as their friend Haleef. Haleef is a bit of an interesting character in that he’s one of the only Moroccans I’ve met so far who speaks English fluently outside of the Peace Corps staff. We ran together for a good twenty minutes until we arrived at a large arena with three dirt soccer fields, one basketball court, and a track around them. For two hours, we played soccer or ran, but in the middle of our fun, the wind started to kick up the dirt until everyone pulled their shirts over their heads and ran off the field. It quickly became difficult to breathe with all the dust in the air, and we had to seek shelter behind rocks, trees, or walls that were falling apart. Haleef joked, “This is Morocco. Don’t you want to go home now?” I told him this was the kind of thing I both loved and hated at the same time.
I’m finding that’s quickly ringing true in my life, that real beauty in the world is seeing the best and the worst in something and loving it as it is.
Around nine in the morning, we ran home for breakfast, which typically consists of one or two types of bread, butter, oil, and the infamous mint tea you find everywhere here. There’s also usually kind of apricot jam for the bread.
Honestly, I’ve been fairly mum about the food thus far, because I don’t really know what to say about it; it’s more than simply food. It’s an entire experience. Case in point, my class recently ate “bastilla,” a sweet or sometimes savory dish that will cost you upwards of 1000DH (about $120) to eat in a restaurant. To get this treat is rare, and we probably should have invited David Lille, the Country Director, to eat it with us. He did say he would drive the three hours from Rabat if we had it. But alas, we didn’t really know we were having it until the day before.
The meal itself is a smörgåsbord of different flavors and dishes, including eggs, chicken, brown sugar, cinnamon, and layers of finely breaded crust, topped with confectioner sugar and almonds. Of course, there are many different kinds of bastilla, but ours was an overwhelming reminder that food is not just energy that replenishes the body but can also be an encounter with the divine!
I’m getting off-track, though.
After breakfast and a short nap, we spent two-and-a-half hours at the hammam. I’ve already written about the hammam, so I won’t dwell on that other than to say two hours is probably a bit much for me personally. I think I shampooed my hair three times and scrubbed myself down five times. Haleef also walked on my back to pop it, so after all that rubbing and scrubbing in the Moroccan hammam, I think most people find themselves pretty tired. I mean, it’s like a sport activity or something. Who would’ve thought taking a shower would be so much work?
You’d think the day would’ve come to a close after all that, and I had been worried that I wouldn’t have time to see my American friends (all of whom live a forty minute walk through the city away from me, by the way). …but there’s a saying in Morocco – yamat lla twila, or the days of God are longer. Basically, this means that with God, there’s always plenty of time to do what needs to be done. I love this concept, especially in terms of how counter-cultural it is compared with America, where it seems there’s never enough time. We always stress and worry about accomplishing the next goal, making that important meeting date, checking off every little project we have to do. Not here. Here, those things are not worries, really. There’s plenty of time. Love God, love people; the rest will fall into place in God’s time. What a nice concept to live by.
So, with Khalil at my side, we walked to the taxi stand to meet my teacher, Driss, and a few Americans. Then, if we weren’t tired enough already, we hiked to the peak of a small mountain (really it was more like a cliff) and spent time there just letting the breeze catch and carry us over Sefrou, which stretched from cliff to cliff across the valley below. I’ve already uploaded those pictures and a video. Check them out if you haven’t already.
By the time we got back, there were still several hours left in the day. It’s funny – if Mom and Dad call me at ten o’clock my time, we’re usually eating dinner at the same time. Dinner here can be as late as eleven, and most families seem to go to bed not long after eating the last meal.
So, there you have it (for now) – a day in the life.
The next three weeks are fairly stationary with mostly lots of careful language study, and a Peace Corps Volunteer will train us in the afternoons on how to teach English to Moroccans. Next weekend, one of my friends is coming to Sefrou to celebrate a birthday of another friend. Then, two weeks later, we find out our final site and take a week to visit and discover the place we will live for the next two years. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.
Oh! I also received my first mailings – a letter from the Madison County Election Commission (go McWherther!); a letter from Hope Montgomery; and a letter from Kurtis MacKendree. All three of them have mail on the way to the States, so write me if you want. I will write you back promptly!
And go vote! I voted from Morocco, so you have no excuse for not voting.
That’s all for now.