Thursday, October 4, 2012

A New Friendship Between A PCV And A Moroccan

Today I joined my friend, who's also my site mate, that is, my fellow PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) who also lives here in town, when he went to his host family's house for lunch.  I invited our fellow PCV, a young woman who lives about five kilometers south, to join us at their home for lunch.  I was glad that she joined us.  I'd been wanting to introduce her especially to the younger daughter of the family for a while.

Before she arrived, my site mate and I were admiring the keftans, or Moroccan women's robes, which the younger daughter of the family had made in the course of her occupation as a seamstress.  One was yellow and the other was purple.  Both were embroidered with intricate weaving down the front middle seam.  The yellow one had a rust-colored vest which went over it.  The purple one had matching loose pants which accompanied it.  As a side note, most Moroccan women's clothing, and especially keftans, tend to be loose-fitting, unlike, for example, Malaysian women's clothing which is a bit more form-fitting.  My site mate predicted that our fellow PCV would thoroughly enjoy such colorful, decorative keftans.

When our fellow PCV arrived, she was absolutely thrilled with the beautiful handiwork of the younger daughter of the family.  She was all smiles, and thoroughly loved trying on the keftan which the daughter put on her.

Normally when one goes to a Moroccan home, the food is a primary, prominent part of the visit.  During this particular visit, the family had to redirect us, from the clothing, and the new friendship which my fellow PCV had struck up with the younger daughter of the family, back to the tea and cookies which had been sitting waiting for us on the low round table.

Also, normally the hosts pour the tea for the guests.  For some reason, the father of the family repeatedly directed me to pour the tea, so I poured the tea.  I forgot to pour the tea in the typical Moroccan fashion of drawing the teapot high above the glass, so that the tea falls in a long arc from the teapot which is high above the glass.  Accordingly, the younger daughter reminded me to do so when she took the teapot and demonstrated the customary way to pour tea here in Morocco.

After the tea and cookies, we enjoyed our lunch, a tajine, which is essentially the Moroccan equivalent of a type of stew.  The tajine we enjoyed today was one of chicken, potatoes and green olives.  We sat on the floor around a low round table, each of us grabbing morsels from the part of the communal dish which was nearest to us with pieces of bread--which the family baked themselves--which we ripped from large, flat, round loaves.  Here in Morocco, it's customary to only take food out of the communal dish with one's right hand, as it's understood that the left hand is reserved for performing private sanitary functions.  One also uses the bread to soak up some of the tajine oil which sits at the bottom of the large communal dish.

But, again, the food today played a supporting role.  In one way, the food was secondary to the sartorial creations we admired.

However, the food also was upstaged by the new friendship forged between my one fellow PCV and my other fellow PCV's host sister, that is, the younger daughter in his host family.  After the meal, my site mate soon left since he had to meet some community members regarding some upcoming work he hopes to do here in town.  My other fellow PCV kept asking the younger daughter how to say certain words in Tashelheit, which is one of the Berber languages, and which is spoken in this southern region of Morocco where we live, here in the Sahara.  As when my fellow PCV was trying on and was wearing the beautiful yellow keftan and accompanying rust-colored vest, she and the younger daughter of the family were sharing much laughter and smiles as they discussed Berber vocabulary.

While I was sad to be saying goodbye to the family, and while they looked rather sad to be seeing me leave their home, since I won't be seeing them again before I leave town so soon from now, I was very pleased to see my fellow PCV having such a good time at their home.  I left their home with a warm, satisfying feeling, because, despite saying farewells with them, they had made a new friend whose company they seemed to enjoy so much.

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