I’d totally forgotten that today was Friday, until Boushra called me to lunch and the huge earthenware dish made for serving couscous sat, piled high, on the low round table in the room on the terrace. We didn’t talk much as we ate, though the dialogue from the familiar Darija-dubbed soaps on satellite TV provided the ever-present background noise I’ve grown so accustomed to.
Family life here in Oudaiya is wonderful, though not without its quirks and challenges. My current awkward and silent battle is with the leaky septic tank in the downstairs toilet; after one incidence of desperately attempting to flush it by hand (which, I’ll have you know, takes forever when you don’t have good water pressure. By no-good water pressure, I mean a shower head with uneven water flow), I’ve resigned myself to pooping in the upstairs bathroom. It’s totally fine, I just never know if it’ll flush or not. It makes pooping rather stressful, but also a sort of forbidden adventure. HaHA! I mentally cackle evilly when everything flushes properly. I have defeated you, septic tank.
Other than that, living with Moroccans is fascinating. They are a kind, generous, raucous bunch, with their own traditions and habits that I’ve grown accustomed to and learned to love. Eggs with salt and cumin, salad dressing of vinegar and dijon mustard, flan (FLAAAAAAN!!!!!!). We’re allowed nowhere near helping with the laundry, though I do help with dishes every so often. Someone is always in the house, and so whenever I return I need only ring the birdsong doorbell to be let in, amidst bisous and salaams, to the whitewashed house in the Kasbah that I’ve learned to call home.
The ebb and flow of their conversation (as I begin to understand more and more) doesn’t sound anything like English conversation: their words are more forceful, their speech more intense, and everything is a level louder than it is in English. Oftentimes, normal conversation is conducted at a volume that might indicate a fight in the States, and I’m never sure if it’s because Moroccans just talk louder, or if it’s because the TV’s always on as well.
TV is different here too. Even in the poorest of poor families, there is a TV with a satellite dish; I believe satellite TV is either free or very, very, very cheap, and many researchers (such as Fatema Mernissi, who you’ve probably heard me rave about before) are looking into the effect that satellite TV is having on the creation of a pan-Arab identity, and on North-African and Middle-Eastern society in general. Driving past slums and cities is so strange: thousands of brown clay buildings, thousands of satellite dishes. Satellite dishes are how one can tell if a shantytown’s abandoned or not.
Slowly but surely, the number of programs in Darija is rising; most, but not all, Moroccans understand fousha; fewer actually speak it. The news and most programs are still conducted in either Fousha or Maasri (Egyptian). My favorite soap is “N’Oubliez Pas,” which is a Darija-dubbed Turkish show in which one of the main characters bears a striking resemblance to my friend Kenzie back home. Her character just gave enough money so that her would-be fiancé (-but-isn’t-because-she-married-somebody-else-for-his-money-and-that-guy-died)’s family could afford a lawyer for him so that he wouldn’t get hanged. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Most Moroccans love Shakira with every fiber of their beings, as well as – to a slightly lesser extent – Adele. I’m getting to know their popular artists, too, but I couldn’t tell you their names. The girl with the weird eyebrows sucks, the middle-aged dude’s really good. It’s a science.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying the slow days and hazy sunshine, the distant sound of the ocean, the sea breezes and the long walks by the beach that I’ve been taking as the sun sets. I sit on my windowsill and look out at the river, watch the boats go by, and imagine what I must look like to the tourists below: a white girl in harem pants reading a book in one of the windows set high in the imposing wall of the kasbah like some modern-day Jasmine or reclusive weirdo. I spend the slow days folding socks and walking around, and now that I have five slow days ahead of me (most of my cohort is out traveling, but I’m hanging around to enjoy some peace, beach, and whatever else strikes my fancy), I’m really looking forward to all the books I’m going to finish and all the papers (yes, I have papers, but that’s all right) that I’m going to write. My time here in Morocco is truly winding down, and as I reflect a little bit on everything that’s happened, I feel pretty awesome about it. It was a lot harder than I expected it to be, but also a thousand times more rewarding, enriching, and fulfilling.
BUT MORE ABOUT THAT LATER, I’m sure. This sort of rambly type of post is probably going to come back as I wander through my last few weeks here, breathing the ocean air and smiling serenely to myself. It’s hard to believe that this place ever felt strange to me, as crazy as that sounds. Aw, MAN, we say when the topic of conversation turns to our looming departure, I was just getting USED to this place!
But you know what? I’m also excited to get home, so I can hear the inevitable question: “KATIE! Oh my gosh, how was MoROCco?”
I already have my reply ready.
Peace out, kitty cats!
(back to watching Harry Potter!)