Though there were a few people milling about, there were far fewer people out and about than usual. Given that I had very little food at home, and definitely no bread, I figured that I was probably going to be missing lunch. I tried to shrug it off, and, thinking that I could at least try to do something, I started off toward an apartment building I know to try to find out if there were any available apartments in it on behalf of Stan, the new PCV living in my town.
Soon after I turned onto the road toward that apartment building, I saw a fellow who lives here in town who is always friendly and welcoming to me. He invited me to come to his home for lunch. I was glad to accept, not only because I was hungry and didn't have much to eat at home, but also because he had invited me to his home months earlier, at times which weren't convenient for me.
So, I was happy to finally accept one of his invitations, and I turned around and started walking with him to his home. Right after we crossed one of the main streets here in town, he walked up to a group of men, some of whom were sitting on the curb, others in a car next to the curb, who were there talking. Given that typically in Morocco, if as a guy you're walking with another guy, and he starts talking with people, he shakes the hand of every guy there, and you do the same, even if you don't know them, even if he doesn't introduce you, and even if you think you're never going to see them again. So, once he had started shaking their hands, I did the same. After his very brief conversation with them, we continued on to his home.
We completed the short walk to his home very quickly, and proceeded up to the top floor, the third floor of the building. He immediately brought out some tea (which, here in Morocco, typically contains a lot of sugar) and removed the knit towel which was resting over the large plate holding a variety of cookies in front of us. When I finished my glass of tea, he asked me if I wanted more, which I did. More than once he told me to eat more cookies. He again offered me more tea, but I declined more tea at that point. Moroccans always encourage their house guests to eat and drink!
After we had had some tea and cookies, we continued watching TV. At one point, we were watching either a TV show or a movie which featured an actress who, I'm pretty sure, was Jennifer Lopez. They hadn't dubbed over the original English dialogue; rather, it had Arabic subtitles. So, I understood when I heard J. Lo's character tell her fellow character, "Change your shirt; you smell like dog," whereas my host laughed and repeated to me in Darija what she had just said, because he had just read it. I responded to him, in Darija, "Yeah, she didn't like that." When the two characters started slow dancing with their arms draped over each other in a bar in the next scene, my host changed the channel, about which I felt little regret.
Then I was more excited to get to see a little of a special on National Geographic Abu Dhabi which was set in Yosemite National Park. Although I understood very little of what was being said in that program, which was in Arabic, of course I could tell that they were observing small frogs in the water there in the park. And, toward the end of the program, I enjoyed seeing some footage showing some wide vistas in the park, which I especially appreciated having visited there and hiked there over a dozen times.
After my host and I had been watching TV for a while, he brought a large teapot and a type of water basin into the room. As typically done right before a meal in someone's home in Morocco, I placed my hands over the basin and he poured slightly warm water over my hands. When I told him "safi," meaning that he had poured enough water over my hands, he then handed me a towel to dry my hands.
He then brought in a tajine of chicken and olives, sitting in the juice of the chicken, and covered with French fries. He had also just brought in some bread (large, round, flat bread), from which we broke off small pieces, and which we used to dip in the juices of the tajine, and also used to grab olives, pieces of chicken, and French fries. We also used just our fingers to pick fries off the top of the chicken, which, incidentally, was a whole chicken, as is usual in a chicken tajine. (Each of us ate with the right hand; in Morocco, it is understood that the left hand is reserved for hygienic uses). Towards the end of the meal, he encouraged me to keep eating, but I didn't want to make myself uncomfortably full, so I told him I had had enough.
Also, I saw a plate of fruit which was waiting for us, so I left some room for that dessert. We enjoyed some melon and grapes for dessert.
Soon after we had finished dessert, he brought the teapot of warm water and the basin back into the room, and I again washed my hands. Soon thereafter, I then happily left his home, thanking him repeatedly, grateful for his generosity and hospitality which had saved me from being hungry for the afternoon.