Saturday, February 12, 2011

Guys' Purchases in Morocco

So I'm out of town, in a small city, this weekend for some training. After training sessions today, we all went out to get some things to eat, and to go shopping.

Tonight I was in a small supermarket waiting to make a purchase. There were many men waiting to buy cigarettes and alcohol. (Keep in mind that in Morocco, a Muslim nation, cigarettes and alcohol are generally forbidden. But not all Moroccans follow the religious, social, and cultural norms in Morocco.) I found it rather amusing that as all these guys were buying alcohol and cigarettes, I was waiting to buy a liter of milk to go with the cookies I had just bought at the nearby bakery.


Sometimes Moroccans say "Hamdullah," which translates as "Thanks be to God." People sometimes say it after they have just finished eating, thanking God for what they have just eaten. I appreciate how it is said as a way of being grateful for one's blessings.

Friday, February 11, 2011


So over the last couple of months, I've had a couple of Moroccan girls (yes, as best as I can tell, they were girls, meaning under the age of 18) essentially ask me to marry them. To get more specific:

So at the end of December, before I had started teaching English classes, I had started answering random, sporadic questions about English in what largely resembled tutoring. On one of those days in late December, some teenage girls asked me to speak with them, so we stepped into a classroom together. I assumed that they had some questions about learning English. But there weren't any questions about English. There was some small talk going on in the room, all in Arabic. Then, seemingly out of the blue, the following exchange occurred, all in Darija:

Moroccan girl: How long will you be living in Morocco?
Me: Two years.
Same Moroccan girl: When you return to America, will I be going with you?

Since I've been asked how I replied, I'll add here that I gave the diplomatic response, "I don't know." She seemed irritated at my evasiveness, adding at that point, "You don't know much." I just let the conversation dissipate, since it was not a dialogue which I was particularly interested in having!

Then, last month, in January, I was sitting in a classroom, actually about to start tutoring some Moroccan girls in English, when another Moroccan girl walked into the classroom, and asked me in Darija if she and I were going to get married. Right after she left the classroom, when I turned back to the girls there for tutoring, one of them said to me in Darija, referring to the girl who asked me about getting married, "She's a little crazy."

Some comparative commentary here: while my experiences with discussions of marriage, or insinuations thereof, have tended toward the humorous, many female PCVs in Morocco have had very different experiences. Notably, many female PCVs in Morocco have experienced unwanted attention which has made them uncomfortable. And, some female PCVs have received actual marriage proposals, and some female PCVs have received many of them. One female PCV in Morocco in the 1990s received 60!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Helpful Reminder About Where I Live

In the town in which I live in the Sahara, there's a palmerie, which is a massive grove of palm trees which stretches into one side of town and out of town on the other side.  A couple of days ago, I was laying down in the palmerie.  As I lay there, amidst many palm trees, looking up at the blue sky, hearing nothing but buzzing insects and birds chirping, I was reminded that I live in Africa!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Time Out

Just as a coda to my last post: I spoke with a friend in the U.S. after I had posted my last blog entry, and told her that I feel the best that I have felt since arriving here in Morocco. She sounded surprised.

After getting off the phone with her, I thought that my difficult process last week, of emerging from the depths of despair, was perhaps a spiritual equivalent of going to the hammam, what is essentially a Moroccan bathhouse. In the hammam, people use an exfoliating glove, or kis, to scrub themselves. So with a kis, someone is essentially scraping the dirt off himself or herself, unlike when someone just rubs a bar of soap on themselves. Consequently, people wind up getting very clean. I and other Americans I know who have gone to hammams here in Morocco are astonished by how much dirt comes off of us. Analogously, it was surprising, in retrospect, to see how far up I had climbed emotionally last week. Having thrown off the shackles of despair, I have been feeling great.

Experiencing pleasure of people and things more with joy. I was walking through town yesterday and came upon a soccer match. As I drew nearer to the field, I saw a young Moroccan friend of mine. He waved, getting my attention. I was happy to get to spend some time with him. The young lad, probably in his late teens, is always so welcoming and friendly. When he shakes my hand in greeting, he often takes my shoulder with his other hand, as if to offer additional support and warmth to me. After watching the match for a little while, when we parted ways, I told him I was going to go to a hanoot (basically the Moroccan equivalent of a corner store). As always, he immediately took me by the arm and started to lead me there. I love how he automatically takes it upon himself to show where I can find what I need. It's so wonderful to experience such warmth, generosity and caring.

And, again, I am enjoying just simple things. During the soccer match, I was amused when the referee had to halt the game temporarily, in a sort of "time out" when a man drove his donkey-drawn cart through the middle of the dirt field. (I guessed that the man drove through the field because the adjacent road on which he normally would have driven was, at that moment, being paved).

This morning, as I was walking through town, I was reveling in the blue sky and sunshine of a gorgeous day, as I appreciated some warm bread I had just bought from the boulangerie, the bakery, in the middle of town. Life is good.