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Monday 10 November 2008

What life is really like…

So, my blog has been a little flippant about my experiences so far (mainly because everyday I find myself shaking my head at some peculiarity - today is another example, but you must keep reading). But, during the trip out the visit Mouna’s family, I did see a bit more of the reality of life here that consolidates my reason for being here. And, the importance of the house.

I visited two other girls during my stay. One girl lives with her mother and grandmother. She is classed as an orphan as her father has died – somehow the family come together to support them as the mother earns a very small wage collecting olives. They have one bed, some blankets, a small kitchen that uses very basic utensils, and a small cabinet where all of the family possessions and clothes belong. I could not fit all that I came to Morocco with in that cabinet. They also have a cow – though I am not sure what for because it is very skinny. This is a photo of the kitchen.

There was another family that we visited too. I was beguiled by her baby sister who has these amazingly wise eyes and who ran up to me when she first saw me like I was a long lost relative and smothered me in kisses. I was surprised by the simple mud kitchen with very little items (no fridge, no food stocks – just flour, butter and oil). I was in despair over the one small room they do all of their living in – sleeping 4 people, eating, dressing, sitting etc. And I was overcome with gratitude towards her mother who shared their precious food with me. I can’t believe how little they have. Again – a small cabinet was used to fit all of the dishes, cutlery, teapots, clothes for four people, toiletries – everything. It took all of my energy to keep my composure.

After all of this emotion and going for two LONG walks with the girls, when I returned to the house to see about 100 women in the house, sharing the couscous I had helped to prepare earlier, I begged Latifa to let me go back to Asni. Besides – one more lot of ‘Ish’ (‘Eat’) and I would have exploded. 24 hours of non-stop eating! Latifa was also ready to leave, so we were sent on our way with everyone’s good wishes.

We waited for about an hour for a taxi, until I (the dumb Westerner) suggested that we just hail the next vehicle to some along. Latifa was a willing participant in this expedition, so I can’t be held solely accountable for our experience. We hailed the van. The back doors swung open hopefully. We were staring at the backside of a one tonne cow. Thankfully, one of the men got out of the front and let us ride (four people across) in the front. He turned out to be the father of one of our girls! I spent the entire journey hanging well and truly out of the window, thinking the eau d’cow (see, my French is improving) was evidence of previous bowel movements. But three minutes later, the new stench proved me wrong. Longest 13 kms of my life.

Finally, after Latifa and I returned home (3kgs heavier) we settled in for a relaxing three nights at home, with no girls. I had a shower, put on my new stripy flannelette PJs and my lovely new house socks over the top, they’re pink, with little pigs heads attached. I was just showing them off (scarf less mind you) when there was a knock at the door. The police commissioner (5 stars per lapel) dropped by to tell us the National Security would be coming to look after the King. He was suitably horrified at my appearance, but I think I did notice a smirk when he recovered his composure. This is why they only issue foreigners 90 day visas. We’re all mad!

This just in… We’ve just had a royal delivery! Straight from the King to us! Not quite the package you would normally expect – no royal wax seals – just a few bags of the animal that he killed on the weekend. Not for the soldiers – only for the girls in the boarding house. Who does he think is going to eat the heart…Oh, wait…I’m wrong. The deer was obviously a boy. I'll try a lot of things, but I’m definitely not eating that!!!