Monday, July 13, 2009


I was at the Cyber internetting when suddenly there was big excitement outside--drums, hooting, and yelling. We all rushed out and there was a donkey-pulled cart loaded with presents, followed by neighbors, friends and relatives, touring the streets of town to announce the wedding of Fatima's daughter. I rushed home to don my jellaba, fancy white scarf, and Arabic sandals--gifts from the host family whose daughter was celebrating the wedding! I hurried over to the house just in time to see the donkey being unhitched from the cart. Salaams, kisses, and hugs were exchanged. Then my host's daughter Rasheta, hurried me inside to what used to be my bedroom.
Ensconced on a high throne at the end of the room was the bride, dressed in forest green satin damask heavily embroidered with gold and gems. Her hands and feet were outstretched and painted with henna in intricate designs, her head was crowned with an elaborate sculpted hairpiece studded with glowing jewels. Mint tea and sweet bread were served to those assembled in the room. Then two attendants came with a gold basin and pitcher to wash the henna from her feet and hands, leaving the stain of the henna designs on her skin. She was carried from the room. Now Rasheta rushed over to me, grabbing my hand and motioning me outside. A huge tent (maybe 40x60 ft) had been erected. The inside was carpeted with matching dark red Persian rugs, partially covered with round tables bearing a white underskirt and a dark red or gold topper. All the chairs were completely encased in red damask covers. Each table seated 12 and there were enough to seat 200, with an open wide center aisle. A band consisting of a keyboard, drum, and a violin played in an upright position balanced on the knee. There was also a lead singer. The music was fairly loud but relatively good ( or else I just getting used to the sound) We seemed to wait endlessly, but finally in came the bride, balanced on the shoulders of four men dressed in a white cape-like garment and white harem pants, sporting red pointed caps. The bride was elegantly dressed in another colorful beaded gown and crowned with a gold tiara (there were so many outfits I lost track of the colors).

Four other men in the same outfits danced around the group bearing the bride. All the while the bride was being spun around and bounced up and down, trying to maintain her balance while smiling and waving to the crowd. She was finally seated on a double throne covered in white satin beribboned with bows and flowers. Then the groom was brought in and treated to the same spinning and bouncing entrance. After they both were seated came photo op time as one group after another vied for a chance to pose with the couple.

This procedure was followed at least six times over the course of the evening. I lost track. One time the couple fed each other a sweet and a cup of tea from a gold cup. On another they exchanged rings. In between there was dancing by the guests, not as couples, but individually including all ages and both men and women, boys and girls. We were again served tea and a sweet, later bread and tajines holding three roasted chickens were delivered to each table, followed by a tajine of lamb covered with prunes. Both these dishes were eaten by dipping small pieces of the bread (the bread is like pita bread only plate size) into the common bowl and securing a piece of meat as well as the juices. This is quickly transfered to the mouth. Bottles of orange soda, Pepsi, and water were placed on each table. Dessert was a huge watermelon cut into serving slices and surrounded by honeydew melon chunks. And the music and dancing contined and the bride came again in another outfit, followed by the groom. At one point small decorative boxes of those cookies the women had been baking for two weeks in 3pm to midnight marathon, were given to each guest. And the dancing continued. Actually it's not dancing by out standards. The women raise their arms and swivel their hips in a senuous movement, all the time hollering and clapping in time with the music. The bride finally came in again. This time elegantly gowned as a bride, but with the same swirling around--his time as she stood. After that display the party seemed to wind down a bit and it was my clue to go home. Unfortunately I forgot my cookies, but when I left the tent I was surprised at how light it still was. I had arrived at eight o'clock and it wasn't dark yet. Arriving inside my door, I was extremely to discover it was six o'clock in the morning.

Monday, July 6, 2009


It's July and I'm on my own, in my own rent-paid apartment.

The bitelma was newly enlarged and tiled half-way in soft blue design tile, and half painted a soft yellow. There is a large window with an unobstructed view of the distant moutains. The center room floor is tiled black and white and has the same view. Of the two small rooms in back, one is on the same side - the other has a westerly window. On the other end of the apartment is a large room the length of the building. The kitchen is in the middle and has a tiled sink counter on one side with a stainless steel sink and a drain for the running water! The floor is also tiled. But there are no shelves or cabinets. The place is TOTALLY BARE. not even a hook. So shopping is my game and confused is my name, to paraphrase the Bingo slogan.

Yesterday Brian, the volunteer from the next town, came to help me get my stuff - suitcases and books and sleeping bag, etc.- to the new location and to help me get a stove and some bedding. I have to sleep on the floor until I can get a mattress, hopefully tomorrow when I go for tutoring. I will have to bring it home by taxi and get a local cart-boy to deliver it to my house. The boys wait at the bus stop and taxi stand with their homemade bicycle-wheeled carts and tote your load for a couple durhams.

An old Berber saying is: Little by little does the camel go through the eye of the needle. I have calendar pages to tape to the walls and family photos to brighten my eye. And so I will fill the space with treasures.

Bought some paint to brighten up the doors in my pad. Only to find out when I opened it that it was half empty. I brought it back and the guy just shrugged, put it back on the shelf and gave me a different one and a refund of 10 dirhams. Morocco!

The temp now reaches in the high 90's most every day, but cools off after 5pm a little. By sleep time its quite comfortable.

The work pace here is not. I have divised a plan to meet with the school director in the fall seeking to talk with the English teacher to meet wth her class and tell them about the PC purpose and introduce the toothbrush campaign. At least the plan gives me some purpose. I will talk in simple English translated into simple Tashilheet. Brian the PCV in the next town will help. In the meantime I go on Fridays and Sundays for 2 hour tutoring lessons. That is, providing the bus and/or taxi is working. Today no transportation.