Comfort has set in, which is both good and bad, but I’m going to go with the good. The first week I was in Rabat, I kept my clothes in nealy stacked piles in the small dresser provided for me, and for items with intermittent use, on the unused top bunk of my bed. My toiletries were lined up neatly on the dresser top and my books and scool materials stacked in tidy piles on the floor by my bed. I put a bit of effort into my clothing decisions and would even change my shirt if headed out after placement to the medina (market) or for a coffee. All bets are off now. I wore the shirt I had on today yesterday but tried to disguise my repetition with a scarf, and it’s possible I will sleep in it tonite. My socks don’t match (no shoes in the house so they do show) and my hair… well let’s just say thank goodness for hats and scarves. Showers come about every other day, if I’m lucky, and are under a dribble of warm water that is quick to turn cool. The Hassam is not only my pleasure dip into Moroccan culture, but my reassurance that all good hygiene is not lost. Honestly, I really don’t care, which feels nice and pretty doggone freeing and maybe just a tad bit scary, but I’ve walked these paths before when traveling in developing countries, so it’s familiar. Whereas the makeup came out the first few days, it’s tucked away now…replaced with a tube of Berts Bees Chapstick and a bottle of sunscreen. I’m comfortable. I’m thinking about going Morrocan on my eating….sans silverware, but don’t want to frighten my fellow volunteers….at least not just yet.
I’ve adapted to the slower pace and am enjoying the unscheduled time I have to simply be while I process this new culture. I love the food. I love the warm spirit of the people. I love their deep sense of country pride that radiates from their excited faces when they are sharing a piece of their culture with me, whether it be a place, an artifact or a dish. I love that they aren’t afraid of color or spices and with both, everything goes together. For example, today’s lunch of pastilla, which was a grouping of foods that I would never put together….think baklava stuffed with saffron seasoned chicken. Sweet and savory all wrapped into one dish. My students will be thrilled that I tried it and even more thrilled that I liked it as they’ve been talking it up to me since my day with them! I love the afternoon Moroccon mint tea, and am drinking it like a true Moroccan…with sugar and a “tourban” (the foam that is formed on the top when the tea pot is held high from the cup during the pouring).
I love the work I’m doing, both at the orphanage and the school and although what I’m doing is only a small drop in a very big bucket, I know it is changing the way I see the world, and my place in it. I continue to be reminded of the tremendous fortune behind the country name that’s written on my passport, something that’s easily forgotten, especially during difficult times at home with elections that didn’t go as I wanted and the frustrations that are growing within the social structures at home. Still, they are problems that although significant, pale when compared to those in developing countries, such as Morroco.
I’m on the downhill part of my Morrocan adventure and in less than a week, will be on my way home. All of my housemates are in various stages of sickness, upper respiratory crud caught from the kids at placement, or dish washing by hand in cool water, or the close sleeping arrangements, or most likely a little bit of each. For some reason, I’ve been spared, and am feeling great, with a side of guilt….
After another difficult day at the orphanage…one boy had a seizure, an epidemic of chicken pox among the babies and an older boy hitting me because he wasn’t getting the attention from me that he wanted, I’m breathing a TGIF relief sigh and will be getting on a bus shortly headed for the beautiful (or so I’m told) , town of Chefchouan for the weekend. Today, I feel like I’ve earned it…