SbaH l-xir (good morning)!
It is Sunday morning here, and Thomas and I slept very well last night, l’Hamdullah (Thanks to God–and check out this redux of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah!). The weather yesterday finally transitioned from rainy and cold to sunny and warm (l-barH ljaw zwin!=yesterday the weather was good). As of noon yesterday, Thomas and I, along with our other CBT group members, Thia and Veronica, finished what felt like a very long week of language and culture (LC) training with our LC Facilitator (LCF), Taoufik.
I am relieved to have today off to study individually and enjoy some unstructured time in our town. While our home has running water, there is no hot water, so western-style bathing has been replaced by hand baths and supplementary trips to the hmamm—this afternoon I plan to attend the local hmamm for the first time with Thia and Veronica, and I’m really excited to experience this form of bathing.
Two highlights from the past week:
- Our Host Family: We have integrated well into our host family and are regularly practicing Darija with them. Zakia, thankfully, speaks French in addition to Darija, so Thomas and I have been able to ‘cheat’ a bit when trying to communicate with her. She is lovely, and seems very determined to make us feel at home. Her husband, Hassin, had been away until yesterday but is now back home and it was nice to finally meet him. He and Thomas seem to really enjoy each other’s company (testosterone and estrogen are now in balance at the house!).
While I am grateful to have Zakia as my ‘host mother’, a more rewarding part of being with this family is getting to know Lala Fatima, Zakia’s mother. Despite rarely understanding what she is saying to me, Lala Fatima and I get along swell. Our verbal communication is practically nil, but she laughs when I look confused, patting my arm and saying various things that I hope mean she approves of my efforts to communicate. She is also the designated cook for the home, and we are eating quite well under her purview. Zakia proudly shared when we first arrived that Lala Fatima’s couscous is known internationally. How’s that for a lucky homestay placement? And we can also vouch for her excellent tagines.
- Learning about/experiencing ‘kaskrot’:
Kaskrot is an extra meal between lunch and dinner, almost always comprised of various breads (xubs) and bakery items. Moroccans are big on serving bread-based items throughout the day, and we are slowly learning how to gracefully accept and decline xubs depending on our appetites. But when elder Moroccan woman repeat, “Kuli! Kuli! (Eat! Eat!)” while holding out trays of cookies, malwi (Moroccan crepes), cornbread and cakes, declining their offer can be seen as incredibly rude. Earlier this week, while visiting another host family, we were having a kaskrot to end all kaskrots–WAY too many xubs were being thrust upon us! Given we were still expected to have dinner at our home, I turned to Taoufik and whispered, “I can’t eat more—I won’t be able to eat dinner if I eat more here.” Taoufik, who is 22 and has a robust metabolism, shook his head, smiled and responded, “Just go for it!” Needless to say, I had some more xubs.
I shall end with stating that life here is going really well overall. Day-by-day-by-day-by-day we are working out how to best enjoy our time in Morocco. And having Taoufik to shepherd us through these first few months is incredibly helpful. I have no idea how we would function here without dear Taoufik!! He is the LCF par excellence, and I grow more endeared to him by the moment.
Until next time, “Aijbatni shlada bzaf (I like salad a lot)!” Just thought I would end with that bit of Darija.