Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Telling time in Morocco

I have now been here in Morocco for 18 months, with only 7ish left.  When I think about it like that I can’t believe it… the time has flown by.  But then when I sit down and actually think about all the things that have happened over these 18 months… I feel like I’ve been here forever.  This is home. People here always ask if I’m tmirt (settled).  My new joke (jokes here are typically pretty lame… think grandpa jokes that everyone laughs at but no one thinks is funny) is that yes, I’m mirġ. I’m half Moroccan and half American- this is half of my home!  People love it, but it’s kinda true.  These people have welcomed me into their homes, their country and treated me like one of their own.  And I’m so blessed to be able to have this experience.

Over the last 18 months I’ve realized there are many ways to tell time… for example, I can tell the time in weeks by the amount of henna that has grown out of my nails, I can usually tell the approximate time of day by the amount of sunlight out or the call to prayers, I can tell what month it is based on the crops growing in the fields, I can tell the day of the week based on the freshness of fruits/veggies at my vegetable guys store, or if its Sunday because its Souk, I can tell if it’s a week day (usually if there are no strikes) by seeing if the kids are playing outside my house or not…. I feel like we have these clues to the time of day, day of the week and month in America but do we ever stop to notice them? 

I often tell people at home that I feel like I’ve learned more from my experience here or from my community than I ever think I could hope to teach them (cliché but true).  One of the biggest things this country has taught me is patience and to stop and enjoy life.  I remember having my schedule down to pretty much every minute of the day in America… and here if I have one small task to do in the day it’s gonna be a good day.  I have the time to stop and have tea with women in the fields, its ok to have tea and basic conversation with the men I’m meeting with for a project before we even speak a word of work, it’s not uncommon for me to go to Souk to buy just milk and end up spending hours talking to all the store owners along the way (and forget to buy the milk), waiting for a taxi or bus for hours is just how it is, or having a counterpart show up an hour late for a meeting is just… that.  When I first got here to Morocco things like this drove me crazy, I was in my America-get work done- mindset.  And I’m not going to lie, sometimes I fall back into that and get a bit stir crazy waiting over an hour for people to show up and a taxi to leave, but Morocco has taught me to appreciate the moment.  Like a good friend of mine once told me “I know it’s hard but really just try to enjoy your time there because it will be over. And then it’s over.  Your home will always be here.”  I don’t know if she knows how much that meant to me, but that quote has been with me since the day she sent it.

Also in relation to time, I feel like in the beginning months here in Morocco I sort of ‘wished my time away.’  It’s not that I wasn’t loving my time here, but it’s hard sometimes- I miss America, my friends, family, the food, my independence and freedom to do or say whatever I wanted.  I still have moments like this- I don’t think I’ve ever been such rollercoaster of emotions as I am here.  I will literally have to force myself to leave the house one day, dread speaking to people along the way and then somewhere in the walk a flip switches and I end up wanting to talk to anyone and everyone along the way- about the weather, about Lily, about life… and end up spending hours in Souk talking to men and walk home on clouds mystified that I live HERE- with the beautiful mountains in the background, walking through postcard like fields and rivers to get home to my crazy dog barking on the roof of my mud house.  Now I have less than 7 months left and I’m grasping at time for dear life.  Don’t get me wrong- I’m excited at the idea of going back to America but this whole experience- all the amazing people I’ve met along the way, all the work I’ve had the privilege of doing… the thought of leaving that really does make me sad.

Well dear readers of mine- my tummy just growled (another way to tell the time) so lunch must be made.  Until next time….

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