Saturday, November 28, 2009
My host family's hamar (hachak!) was not into being petted. Rakya nearly dropped my camera, she was laughing so hard. (Donkeys are considered dirty and shameful here, even as they are relied on to haul many times their weight for hours in the blazing desert sun.)
Today was 3id al Adha, the feast of the sacrifice, honoring Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God. This year I managed to hide out long enough to miss most of the festivities ~ the killing of the sheep in every courtyard or on every rooftop, and my city apparently tidier than others, no blood running in the streets for us ~ but I did happen past this doorway on my walk through town today.
Dinner with the host family: Hooves and kebabs for them, fried potatoes and zucchini for me. Everybody wins!
Earlier this week, I helped Kaitlin pick out a couple of turkey drumsticks for her Thanksgiving dinner with Vish. Note the blood on the tiles of the butcher's shop.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Laughing with Anny at her going-away party in Tioute.
Just a few things I'm thankful for:
The palpable sense of being surrounded by love, both by new friends here who feel like old friends already, and by enduring and ever-growing relationships back home, loved ones who do not feel at all far away.
My looming visit home, where those loved ones will be within hugging distance, where those beers will be within hoisting distance, where the Southern slice at YiaYia's will be within savoring distance.
In the meantime, care packages of unnecessary luxuries that bring home back to me ... Constant Comment tea, nag champa incense, peanut butter, books books books books books ...
The recent discovery of such delicacies for sale in Taroudant as panini bread (perfect substitute for tortillas), soy sauce and red wine vinegar.
Having survived, as of this week, an entire year here in my dusty southern village, and knowing that the second year will be, comparatively, a piece of cake.
Realizing how far I have come in that year. Learning, at last, the value of perserverence, of things not coming easily, of not giving up.
My host sister Kabira reminding me recently how, at first, I cried a lot and my face was hard like this (as she hit her palm against the wall). And look at me now, completely wllft (adjusted), she added, as we sat around the kitchen table, roaring in laughter over nothing in particular, making hlwa (cookies/sweets) to sell at her shop, me doing my best to ignore the distinctly non-OSHA-compliant process.
The amazing ability to communicate and forge connections across vast barriers. Common language isn't everything. Shared cultural norms, neither. A smile, a shrug, a pantomime, a raised eyebrow of understanding, and a new kindred spirit.
My firmly established vegetarian status in the days before L3id kbir, the biggest holiday in the Muslim calendar, the one my neighbors and students remind me of by slicing their fingers across the neck in the sheep-slaughtering manner. (You can see last year's post if you need an explicit reminder.) But, also, my greater understanding this year of the holiday and, once again, how we global peoples (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Pagan) are connected far more closely than we allow ourselves to realize.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Our Peace Corps Morocco family is in shock at the sudden loss, far too young, of one of our own.
So-Youn was an exuberant soul, feisty and fiery and feminist. She could be tempestuous, but she also had a great deal of empathy and arms big enough to enfold those twice her size in the most generous of hugs. She held fast to her moral code, and her strong sense of right and wrong drove her to speak out, to rally for change and to lead by example. She gave a great haircut. She loved her work and her village. She had a great deal to look forward to.
She lived large. She was ~ no, is ~ an inspiration.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
CNN photo: Muriel Johnston, left, meets Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Morocco.
(CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday praised as "one of the best" the oldest Peace Corps volunteer in the world, an 85-year old Florida woman serving in Morocco.