11 September 2010

Before Eid

Sept. 9, 2010

Back in Morocco woo! Actually, my arrival this time was kind of anti-climactic, because I had only been gone a month and I was so tired from being jet-lagged and from fasting and from traveling to my old site from the airport in Casablanca. But, when I woke up the second day, things were much better.

I’m staying for the week with the family of my tutor in my old site. They used to live in the army base in town (actually, it is called the auxiliary forces and is different from the army, but I’m not quite sure how), and they have been building a house for years now, hoping to move out of the small and run-down accommodations of the keshla (army base). Now, my tutor has been telling me since January 2008 that they were going to be finishing the house soon, but, seeing as it’s September 2010 and they JUST moved in the day before I arrived, you can tell how long I’ve been waiting to see this house.

At first, I couldn’t tell why they just kept saying, oh, in a month or two, you’ll be able to come over, but after lots of conversations, and finally, during my last few months as a volunteer, seeing the house, I understood. First of all, there wasn’t money to complete what was left of the house. They built the house on credit (at that time you could only get a loan if you had a government job) – my tutor and his father both taking out loans over the course of 5 or 6 years. But once this money from the loans ran out, they would have to stop whatever work they were doing on the house and wait until they paid off the loan, before they could take out another one.

Of course, beside the money issue, there was the issue of construction and decision-making that needs to happen in any country when you build a house. It was interesting to me to be able to observe this process, and learn “construction” Darija words in the process. Besides the building of the house (out of cement no less) there was the decoration – where to use wood molding and where to make cement and plaster look like wood, the plaster decorations on the ceilings, tiles for the floors and the walls, paint colors, etc. Furniture was also something that took a long time for the family, both to save money and to decide what new stuff to buy and what old stuff to keep. And also, kind of under the “decision-making” heading was the actual decision to move. The family had been living in the keshla for at least 10 years, and they were, in my humble opinion, to leave such a comfortable situation where they lived within 200 yards of all their neighbors.

Most of that is over now, and they have officially moved in… kind of. Since they still own the house in the keshla, and since their car broke down a couple of days ago, they have taken their time moving all the furniture from one house to the other. Big things like beds, the oven, and an armoire are still over at the other house. This morning, the mother left to go make bread at the other house, for example, and they still use the bath at the other house, because it is a traditional hammam – not like the shower they have here.

And of course, with the traditional, humbling hospitality for which Moroccans are famous, they have welcomed me into their new house for this tail end of Ramadan. Al-humdullah.

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