Visions and Reflections I forgot to share sooner, November 24-5, 2018. This is my last day and I do not have any school. Therefore, I was home to see Mama making the daily bread. This is a place where you take your wheat to the souk to have it ground to flour and there is a large metal bin, to hold 50 pounds, under the sink where it is stored. There are no measuring cups. There are numerous pressure cookers and cous cous pots, pots of every size and style. Everything gets mixed by hand. It is cold enough to wear 3 layers in the house, but not cold enough to shut the windows or doors. As I helped Mama in the kitchen, I laughed again to see her way of throwing everything on the floor. This creates so much extra work, as she is constantly bent over cleaning that same floor with a rag, and stuff gets tracked all over the house. Jamal bought her a trash can, which does get used, so it cuts down the floor accumulation a bit. I have no idea if this is common in Morocco, or just my house, but it is the way here. All these ladies have a very unique way of throwing water around for cleaning. Lots of chlorine is used. There is even a guy that walks the streets yelling “javaaal!” so you come out and buy your chlorine from him. Right now the stove is covered with dish soap and chlorine, while she is cooking. The stove is a camp-stove, using bottled butane, as with all the houses. The oven is a box big enough to hold one big cookie sheet above the flames and you can also put a pan under the flames to broil. Do not walk under our window because anything may come your way. I bought olive oil at one hanoot and it was sold to me in an old soda bottle. Spices, peanuts and other bulk items, are measured into pieces of paper torn from the hanoot owner’s notebook, and shaped into a cone. There are 5 chicken stores, in our tiny town, but there were none to be had Wednesday night. In Imouzzier Mama walked me down an alley where there were at least 20 chicken stores (live chickens and butchered chickens in every store) side by side, not to mention the dozen without live chickens in the marketplace. She showed me the family dentist office. The chair was barely far enough from the door to open the door, the room barely big enough to accommodate the dentist and the chair.
My family is very aggressive, about giving and taking, the women at least. You can’t refuse a gift or food, but all the ladies are very forward to ask for something you have, or that they want. Small things, but it is funny. I have no trouble with saying no, or yes, as I feel. I made a huge mistake of spending money to take Mama with me to towns where I wanted to travel. Even though I thought my spending to always be small and conservative, even though I was careful to only bring old clothing and no expensive camera, etc., I fear I crossed a line. This past week, Mama asked me to take her to Fes. I was happy to do whatever she wanted to spend the day together. Even my Dad came, and he does not seem to go anywhere by work. In addition to the taxi money, I spent 30 DH ($3) for the museum, 230 DH ($23) for lunch, for Mama, Papa and I. Both upset them and made them feel I had unlimited money, and no sense. After that, she has asked me to buy more things, little things, but it just changed our dynamic. Gotta be more careful in the next town.
My town is a place where everyone knows everyone, where all ages of children run free in the street, where men and women share the streets, walking to and fro, but truly have different domains. The women are mostly in the houses all day, though they shop and visit each other. They wear pajamas and robes, perhaps the jilaba, in the house and out. Virtually all women, and many young girls, wear the scarves on their hair, though they are not fanatical about hiding every strand. I only know two ladies that wear the full face covering around men and out of doors. The one I know fairly well is surprisingly spicy and not conservative, as you might expect. Very few women dress up unless they are leaving town. The men go to work, hang out at coffee shops and barber shops. They tend to dress nicer. It seems most everyone prays 5 times a day. The boys have game rooms and the youth center, the girls do not really have a place other than the youth center. Most houses have television. I wonder if their cables run midair like it does through my room. Most adults have cell phones, but few have cars. No children have electronics. We do not have a post office, bank, salon or supermarket. There is supposedly no bar, and I have never seen an alcoholic beverage for sale (though common in larger cities), but I have seen a few empty beer cans. I can feel my teeth rotting from all the sugar I have consumed. I wonder if the power grid could support a laundromat? Cats just wander into the houses and no one gets too excited (but don’t leave fish or chicken out). Donkeys are frequent work partners and authentic transportation, not just decoration or pets. Sheep run through town. There are tractors, but a donkey drawn plow is just as common. The music is very different. The mosque calls to prayer change with the sunrise and sunset. I don’t always notice the calls any more. Everyone here is very friendly to Americans. I wish I could convey the visions from my walk home tonight. When the sun sets, all the lights from inside the shops give a different vibe to the town. The streets are always alive. Even though I plan to return often, as early as Christmas, I will miss my town and my family here.