(started writing this blog on Tuesday, it’s now Thursday evening)
The big news is that l-eid s-sgira is tomorow. This means that a new moon has been seen, marking the end of Ramadan and the 1st day of the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. It is a day of celebration, eating (the month-long fasting is over), and visiting relatives. No work and no school-just family.
A word about fasting. It’s a little different than many think. In Islam, fasting means nothing passes one’s lips from sunup to sundown. That means food, water, cigarette, etc. I watch the people in Ain Leuh walking up and down these hills all day long, and know that some travel great distance by foot each day, all without so much as a drink of water. Pretty amazing. Can’t tell you how glad I am that we’ve been able to be w/our host families thru Ramadan. Next year we’ll be on our own, and will not experience it as closely, no matter how well integrated we are. I’m also very curious to see what the normal day is like in non-Ramadan time, ie; families start days earlier, mealtimes and menu are different, business hours are different, etc., just don’t know by how much.
We’ve had the opportunity to sit down with the women’s weaving cooperative several times already. They’re patiently allowing us to interview them to put our technical tools into action, while identifying their needs and priorities, and coming up with potential projects. There will be a person from our 36 member training group posted to Ain Leuh when we’re done w/training, so they may be able to use our work in their efforts. We put the interviews together and our LCF does the talking and interpreting, as our language isn’t ready for prime time yet.
(written Wednesday) Mbruk Leid. We’ve been walking all over town all day long, visiting relatives, eating and drinking sweet mint tea. S-salam Alekum, labas? Kulshi bixir? Labas, L-hamdullah! Now in Morocco, there’s a different sense of family and space. First, it is typical to find 3 generations under the same roof. The roof isn’t big. Besides the small kitchen, a bit lma that only fits the Turkish toilet and a sink (and it may be outside), there’s usually one or two salons where the family visits, sleeps, basically does everything else. This also means that with Khadija’s large family living here, all the aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents are at the most a 20 minute walk, so they see each other all the time. This makes for incredibly tight connections which is wonderful to see. I wish I could share my visual imprints from the day-just didn’t seem appropriate to pull out the camera-but the image of Khadija’s great aunt, sitting on a cushion on the floor against a sfr (saffron) colored wall, with what looked like prayer beads in her hands and her aged, Berber tattooed face is burned in my brain. OK, so eating is a big part of l-eid sgira. We had harira b l-hlib twice. And I thought I had it down that harira was the Ramadan break-fast soup-obviously not, as it showed up as a type of small balled pasta the size of tapioca. With milk (and maybe butter) it’s savory and eaten out of a shared dish. Later we (the women in one room and the men in another) had a vegetable and meat tangine (typically cooked in a pressure cooker), with bread as our utensil. Delish! And of course, cookies and sweet mint tea at every stop, and a Moroccan dish called zmita-its ground nuts, spices, maybe some sugar-eaten w/a spoon straight from the dish.
Two benefits of being w/a host family during a holiday like this: First-cultural appreciation, if not assimilation. What a great opportunity to be brought along just like another family member, even if I can’t understand 99% of the conversations. Second-great way to learn practical language. Instead of sitting in the salon memorizing the commands for “ja” (to come), it’s easy to remember that it’s “aji”-because that’s what the mom’s were constantly yelling to their kids! Aji!
One last note for l-eid--got yddya (my hands) henna’d last night. My 8 yo host sister Ahelam wanted hers done, and it is traditional for 1st year fasting girls to do so at the end of Ramadan. Their neighbor, Fatima, was finishing Ahelam’s about 12 midnight, and came over to do mine. I just wanted nes (sleep), but Khadija pulled me into the parlor (OK, so I didn’t protest that much)-got my contacts out, and got both sides of both hands done. Uh oh. Now what to do to go to sleep? Khadija soaked a cotton ball in the leftover tea (Added color), added some zit (oil), and wrapped my hands in cotton. You can imagine both how fun it was to undress with all that and not get henna all over everything, and what a mess I was when I got up this morning! All’s well tho’-will post photos
Well, that’s a snapshot into l-eid sgira. Think I’m gonna shut down the computer to reserve enough battery to put in my dvd and work off some of the sugared tea and cookies!
Yes, I made it thru l-eid and everyone in town continues to celebrate a 3 day holiday, but it’s back to school for us. We have 2 more days (Friday and Sat, or jamea and sbt) here before we trek back to Azrou for 5 days.