Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Slow or Stupid?

OK, so it felt like the honeymoon was over. Safi(enough!). When will this person start speaking normally with us? Is she just slow or is she really stupid?

Yeah, this is what I heard going thru my host family’s minds-and their body language, and even in some Darija that I understood over the weekend. When challenged a couple of times (out of context I might add) with simple words, I failed to respond accurately. Shuma. Must be stupid.

Yes, I hit one of the much-heralded “lows” this weekend. Jamila all but gave up on me-in front of the kids-which gave them license for short patience. Or maybe it just felt that way to me, since my level of language frustration has reached an all-time high. Don’t they know how badly I want to be able to really talk with them? Get to really know them better? Ask the many, many questions I have?

We were warned, and rightly so, that we’ll hit multiple lows such as this. I guess knowing I’m not alone is some comfort, but not much when you’re not only being thought of as stupid, but you’re feeling that they’re right!

Oh, and then we get hit w/a major snow/ice storm, the electricity (and water) goes out-so I can’t even escape and burrow in my room! Is this punishment or treatment? I have to stay w/the family in the salon and try to engage them. Harumph!

So I got some TLC from Debbie over Skype (thanks for that!) and got on with it-buck up and get back in the game. It’s not the family’s responsibility to teach me Darija-I own it all-and I have to find a way to gain their help w/o overusing my welcome!

I get back to the house last night-needed a cyber break after the “du” (electricity) came back on in the village-and Hannan (bless her heart) strikes up a conversation w/me. An actual conversation where she was trying her English and I was working my Darija. Jamila and I talked. Ham-du-li-lah!

Today I’m out in my usual fashion-running some errands and going to the coop. The guys at the stationary store want to talk-and we talk a while-in Darija. I go to the coop and ask Zahra and Fatima if I can take some hanbls (woven carpets) and purses to Fes w/me tomorrow to display at the Honey Coop tasting event we’re doing. They understand me, agree, we get the stuff put together. Fatima invites me to have lunch w/her family. She has 3 sisters and her mom-all together for quite the feast-we manage to talk a bit back and forth, and even joke-in broken Darija. I’m going back for couscous on Friday. Hamdullah. Today I’m back in the game-getting out, talking w/people-just have to push on-and today it works. That feels better!

I’ll have more lows, I know. Language is just the toughest, because you can’t express yourself and help with misunderstandings. Oh well-it’s all a part of the experience. Yak? (Right?).

OK, I’m better. Hamdullah. Tomorrow I go to Fes, ymkn (maybe) Marjan (supermarket) for some ingredients to do some American holiday baking (Environ PCV gave me a WHOLE pkg of brown sugar-can't buy it over here), Honey Coop program, out w/other PCVs tomorrow night, on to Sefrou on Thursday. It will be a good break. Inshallah.


Jo said...

You are amazing my dear friend!!!


muslimguy said...

hey Lynn

I am sorry that you are going through this language frustration, it does not only happen in Morocco, but also in the U.S. I remember when I first moved over here, it was not a pleasant experience and when I started school all my classmates were thinking that I was stupid because I could not express my thoughts proprely, until we got the first and second calculus tests back.lol.

people are very friendly and will do anything to help others, it's just when there is a language barrier people it's hard for them as they don't know how you are thinking or what you might think of them.