Ramadan ends, black magic, Qur’an. May 30-June 7, 2019.
Here is a story that could only happen here. There is a nice man, in his 40s, that comes into the Dar Shbaab from time to time. He speaks excellent English, he worked with the prior volunteers, very smart, knows tons of local and Islamic history. He has been trying to find work out of town, so not a working partner for me. He fell in love with a young volunteer in a nearby city. Some time ago, he asked me to get in touch with her, because she was not returning his calls, and always had her Director present when they worked on projects. Nope, not getting in the middle of that. I explained that if she was not returning his calls, he should stop. Time goes by. In the meanwhile, he shared with me that he had been under a spell of black magic for 6 years, but was so happy because he found an exorcist that cured him. I learned that belief in black magic is not uncommon in Morocco, and one of the reasons for people not wanting their pictures taken. More time goes by. On Saturday, he asks me if I will please call her for him. He needs to get engaged, and needs to know if things are going to work out with her, otherwise he needs to marry someone suggested by the family. He is certain that if she knows about the black magic, and the fact he is cured, she will be interested in him. I called. Turns out they have never once been alone, worked on only one project, and have not spoken in over a year. No, she is not interested in him. Nice girl. Apparently, he went through the same routine with a previous volunteer. He took it well, deleted her from his phone, and promised to never call her again.
In addition to observing the daytime “fasting”, I made it a goal to finish reading the Qur’an (Islam’s holy book) before the end of Ramadan, which I did. I have a lot to say about what is and is not there, but a blog is not the place. Nor will I be trying to have those discussions with Moroccans. First, my language is inadequate, second, people may mistake questions as criticisms, which I would not want. Lastly, I might be seen as trying to convert people, another bad idea.
My host sister has stopped visiting my house all together, and greetings are not as warm as before, when I go to visit her. I know she is tired from Ramadan, but I hope that is all it is. I have been asked to abandon the garden, because the water is too expensive. Ok, but when I went for one last photo, my brother had watered it. So, I am very sad about that for many reasons, but after messing up their grapevine, I can hardly blame them.
Saturday night was the Laylatul Qadr, the “Night of Power” for Islam. Most believe it is the night Mohammed received the first verses of the Qur’an. Many pray all night and believe there is special significance to the prayers during this night. The internet can tell you much more. Most of the dedicated men were at the Mosque, we ladies and children went shopping. We left the house at 10 pm and returned around 12. Everyone, even the kids, was dressed up. They had me wear my galabia. The photographers who take wedding photos had various props outside their shops. You could pay to have your child dressed as a bride, make-up, jewelry and all, for a professional photo, or just anyone could sit on these large golden sofas, or in the fancy litter used to carry the brides. It was quite festive. Most stores were open. Everyone buys new clothes for the upcoming holiday, Eid al-Fitr or more commonly Eid Sgir (little holiday). We had ice cream. It was fun, and the first time I had seen my sister smile in over a week.
Finally, Eid al-Fitr, marked the end of Ramadan. We learned Tuesday night, Moroccans from TV, me from my host sister, that the moon was property sighted. No waking at 3:00 am to eat. I enjoyed my first meal with my landlady, in her apartment, the second breakfast around 8 with my host family at my old house, then lunch at the twins’ house. I prepared a spread of sweets, fruits, eggs, coffee and juice, in case I had visitors. I had none. Still, it was a very enjoyable day and I got some projects done on the internet. The Eid (holiday) is normally marked by 2 days, but this year the government extended it to 3, giving Government workers Wednesday through Sunday or Monday. This would have applied to me as well, but I have a big group of Lycee (High School) students who asked me if they could study in the Dar Shbaab for their final exit exams (BAC). So, I continued to open for them on Friday.
However, on Thursday, I invited my family for lunch. This was a disaster. I will give the episode its own entry.