Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Suf. KanHtarm dyn dyalk, 3afek katHarm dyali. It was inevitable. The religion discussion during Ramadan. Just didn’t expect it from the Busta boys. Trying to pick up my package from Peace Corps. They’re holding it hostage as they double-team me with questions. Do I fast? No. Do I pray? No. Do I believe in Allah?

Htarm. To Respect (Darija). verb 1: a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation 2: an act of giving particular attention: consideration 3a : high or special regard : esteem b: the quality or state of being esteemed

Now I know that a lot of PCVs tell little white lies during Ramadan-that they’re fasting, etc. I simply choose to be honest with whoever asks. If they want to know, I’ll tell them. I don’t go around advertising that I don’t fast or pray. Neither do I eat or drink in front of anyone else outside of my apartment. That’s simply being considerate.

I do believe however that there is value in honesty surrounding fasting during Ramadan. The goals of the Peace Corps include helping people of other nations to better understand people of the U.S. In my case, that is someone who is not religious, but respects the beliefs of others. If I’m not honest with them, how do they learn about our differences and similarities and debunk prejudices?

So thank goodness I was inspired by all the cooking last week in Ain Leuh. I just polished of the remainder of the Asian chicken salad leftovers-made it 3 full days. Lovin’ that! And of course with a chaser of a liter of water. These days the only exercise I’m getting is walking to the bathroom after I’ve downed yet another liter. Lost count today of how many I’ve consumed. Fortunately the power and water have held on through this heat, so I can refill and refrig the empties.

Now I’m down to mind-numbing boredom. No one and I mean NO one is working these days. Go by to get the info from Hind that she was proofing in Arabic. Gave it to her 2 weeks ago. Not done. Meriem’s office is closed, so will have to wait to update her on the PCPP. Hassan’s hanut closed so can’t get the memory card I need for the Coop’s new camera. Fortunately the Couscous Coop women are working hard-making bread and miloui for l-ftr, and I confirm that they’ll do a workshop for tourists with Gail on the 7th. If it wasn’t for my computer and internet, I’d be pulling out every grey hair on my head. I’m counting the days, the hours. Goin’ crazy. So I’ve started some lists….

Things I will not miss from Morocco...

Eating with bread as my utensil, food cooked until it’s mushy, lack of lines, prices in ryals (equivalent to nickels), long boring evenings, lack of insulation/air conditioning/heating, washing my laundry by hand-esp in freezing weather, my buta gas oven w/o thermometer, donkey poop on the sidewalk, Ramadan and Leid Kbir, stuffed transits, 12 hour bus rides racing thru the Tishka pass w/people vomiting right and left, no napkins, no hot water in the kitchen, being stared at, stuffed w/6 other people in a grand taxi, needing Pepto Bismol on a regular basis, electricity and water outages, running out of phone credits when you really need to use your phone and there’s nowhere to buy minutes, the intense heat of summer and intense cold of winter, sheep heads and intestines in the zwiqa, saying what I WANT to say-not what I CAN say, reporting wherever I go, not being able to drive myself wherever I want to go, Turkish toilet and making certain I’ve brought in Kleenex for tp, sharing a single water glass, corruption, waiting-and waiting-and waiting and fighting with the petit taxi driver to katstml l magana!

And for fair balance, some of the things I will miss from Morocco...

The incredible hospitality of the people, my friends, the women of the Coop and Jam3ia-I really love them, couscous Fridays, miloui, Fatima’s family, all my dear friends in Fes, Café Clock, Jess, having ns ns in the café downstairs, the view of the zlul and mountains from the Coop, festivals, long walks w/Fouzia, the affordability of seeing the country, the concert of simultaneous calls to prayer from the 20+ mosques in the Fes Medina, the amazing availability of public transportation to get almost anywhere in the country-from the largest city to the smallest duoar, sweet mint tea, zllij, homemade bread every day, donkeys, meeting someone on a walk and being invited in for tea, Amina Yabis and her incredible initiative, American Club, Fes and its fabulous medina, Moroccan prices, summer breezes on the roof and incredible star gazing at night, the quiet of the country, purple olives and fresh olive oil, did I mention the women of the Coop and Jam3ia?, not worrying about hair and makeup, not having to drive anywhere, the beautiful diversity of Morocco-landscape, people, cultures, Moroccan greetings, their loyalty, watching the wave of men in their white gandora flooding to Friday noon prayer, sitting at a café as long as you want, taking the train, watching the women weave, getting the Coop to the point of asking for information-not money/design and color choices/finishing quality, clementines and pomegranates…the list could go on.

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