My "garden" ~ still growing, Basil seedlings are healthy, cilantro less so, mint didn't make it, canna lilies going gangbusters but in too-small pots.
Where’s this headache come from, interrupting my unusually tranquil Sunday afternoon? Probably from the heat. Summer has set in. Supposed to be at least 95 degrees today, and this is just the beginning. Time to start setting my alarm and going for my morning exercise earlier, to beat the heat. This morning I had a good run despite the heat, laughing out loud to the amazing Bettye LaVette on my weekly “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” podcast. But after hopping on my bike to get back home to a cool shower and a cold salad, I stopped to talk with my friend Hafida, on her way to souk in Ouled Teima. Minutes after stopping my forward motion, my head started spinning, the landscape closing in on me, and I had to rest my head on the handlebars until my vision cleared. Hafida held my hand and chided me for exercising in this weather. I get a lot of scolding around here for doing things that to me seem perfectly normal. But, yeah, this time, Hafida was right.
Still, I’m lucky. The third story tacked onto the building next door has thrown extra shade down on my courtyard. Kept things chillier than I’d become used to last winter, but I knew it meant my house would be cooler come summer, as well. It’s working. I haven’t even needed a fan yet ~ good thing, too, as I can’t seem to find a suitable replacement for the one I broke this spring, trying to dry out my moldy walls after those unprecedented rains. Hard to believe, now, that such a thing as flooding could occur here.
It’s hot. It’s hot, and windy, and the wind just reminds you how hot it is, while sending dust flying through your house, clinging in a fine layer to everything you own, rattling the satellite dishes on the roofs, the metal gates clanging in unison.
It’s hot, and this is just the beginning. Wore a tank top under a long-sleeved but slightly sheer shirt yesterday, with pants cropped just over the ankle. Felt like the town slut, but I couldn’t even imagine wearing anything more than that. How more women here don’t have heat stroke, wearing a heavy woven djellaba over at least two long layers of tops and skirts and pants, is beyond me.
I’m rambling. I blame the heat.
After a cool shower, I feel ready to tackle the dust, sweeping out my floors and the courtyard, chasing it all with a few buckets of water, which may not really erase the dust but at least tamps it down.
So I’m in a somewhat clean, somewhat cool house. Bonus: At least the daily din from upstairs is missing today; the landlord’s family must be out visiting. It’s gotten bad lately, with Morocco’s partial move to daylight savings time. Most people don’t recognize the “spring ahead,” simultaneously taking full enjoyment of the longer daylight hours summer brings. Thus, it’s nothing for the music upstairs to be blaring, television on full blast, visitors calling up the stairs and being met by return hollering, the 3-year-old running relays up and down the hall or throwing unassuaged temper tantrums, at what to me is midnight, 1 in the morning.
Do I sound cranky? I’m not, really. These things are just everyday life. And necessary lessons to battle my natural tendency to self-righteousness. The noise is not intended to disrespect me or cause me harm. It is my expectations that are outside the norm here, not their daily living habits.
The Dalai Lama has said, “People who cause you difficulties, you should think of them as very, very valuable teachers because they provide us with the opportunity to develop patience.”
So I’m trying to be an eager learner.
Another exercise in patience: I’ve been asked to organize volunteers to serve at a two-week camp for disadvantaged girls this summer. It’s a great concept, arranged by Morocco’s Ministry of Youth and Sports. The frustration has come in the lack of answers to what, to me, are very simple questions on which our arrangements depend. Attempts to elicit such information from my program manager, my Peace Corps “boss” who gave me the assignment, were met with belligerent defensiveness and the insinuation that I ask too many questions instead of just doing my job. Sadly, comfort comes in hearing similar stories, just this week, from at least two other volunteers who I respect and admire greatly. Feelings of being undermined and disrespected transform into a sense of solidarity.
So there you have my week in a nutshell. I do sound cranky, I’m afraid. But I’m not. It’s amazing what little it takes to make me happy. Cold shower. Good book. Iced tea. Cheese. Fellow volunteers. Friendly faces in my village. Green things growing. Time. Actually, I don’t even need the cheese. But it doesn’t hurt. Cheese never hurts.