Monday, September 21, 2009

At long last, no fast....

Mbruk L3id
The fast is over. It’s a holiday. People walking with a spring in their step (and sugar and fat and tea in their bellies). Ham-du-li-lah. Life will get back to “normal”, f-lxr (finally).

I wonder how people felt Saturday night when the new moon was not spotted, meaning they had one more day of fasting after a full month of it. (Didn't know as I was in Tafajight and they only speak Berber). FYI, Morocco adheres to visual guidance for determining Islamic holidays. That is, an imam in Fes declares whether the new moon is seen to designate the holiday. Many other countries rely on the printed lunar calendar. Thus, here, although it was a clear night, there was no new moon, so L3id Sgira didn’t arrive until today. I woke this morning to the sounds of men who filled the mosque around 7am, so many that I heard their chanting prayers.

Today is a holy day, a day of celebration, and day of visiting family and friends. The cafes are open and the men are occupying them once again, today dressed in their finest white djellaba and yellow babouche. Sit and have a qhwa myself and greet lots of folks I haven’t seen all of Ramadan as they are walking around. There’s clearly a festive feel in the air.

I try to time my visits (with purchased hlwa-sweets-in hand) to avoid mealtimes. This is difficult to do today, as mealtime is anytime someone shows up. Let me explain. As soon as a guest arrives (and today that is constant), they are served something. Usually it is tea and maybe cookies, fruit or bread. That’s very typical. Today however, food keeps coming out. So why do I try to avoid the meals? It’s certainly not because I don’t like the food here-quite the contrary. Instead, I’m not keen on the “kuli, kuli” insistence that you “eat, eat”, long after you’re shbet (full). A glass of tea is kafi (enough). Today I get tea, cookies and chicken. Waxa. Of course, I’m not alone, as about 8 others have come in when I’m there and we’re all “kuli’d” together.

Now I must admit that I didn’t turn down the package of zmita that Fatima made up for me when I leave. This concoction, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, sugar, cinnamon, butter, is not one of my favorites-usually pass on it. However, Fatima’s is the best I’ve ever tried. I tell her so. So now I have a container of my own!

So what is appropriate gifting in Morocco? Can anyone help me? I’m still figuring it out. On Friday, Jess and I and friend of hers went for l-ftr at another friend’s house in Sefrou. Brought sugar cones. Oops. She politely tells me that those are reserved as gifts for weddings, funerals and circumcisions. Not L-eid Sgira. Geez-kinda like getting all my “God phrases” mixed up-gotta keep the gifting straight. So for today, I stick w/candies from the patisserie. I know that’s safe!

On a side note, I’m sporting new henna. First henna in Morocco was one year ago, for L3id Sgira, with my host “sister” Ahelan, after her first Ramadan fasting.

I’m on a new kick language-wise. Another PCV started learning the alphabet w/a new tutor and told me that really helped her language improve, esp. pronunciation and comprehension. Hello. That’s exactly what I struggle with most. So I’ve embarked on learning the Arabic alphabet. That means I’ll also need to phonetically spell all my vocabulary all over again, this time to get the right Arabic letters and sounds. I like this plan and am motivated again about language learning.

Ana shbet.

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