7 February 2007
Ok, so I had to look at a calendar to figure out what the date was. Sure, I know it's Wednesday, because today I didn't have class at the Dar Chabab, and had to go to the gym to meet my trainer, Hassan. It's one of the little pleasures of my life that I don't need to know what the date is. I still wear a watch, and am one of the few in my town who do, but I was able to go without for about 4 months last year and didn't really notice the difference. Ah, what bliss!
In January, 10 of my students, my friend Heather and I went on a
SEVEN HOUR hike. This photo was taken early on, while we were still fat
My life is still a relatively calm continuim of class 4 times a week for 2+ hours (they've been getting longer and longer as I get more and more able to communicate and comfortable with people), an activity night on Friday nights which also lasts about 3 hours, the gym ostensibly two times a week on Wednesdays and Fridays for over 2 hours, and the occasional outing to Marrakech on a weekend, or for an overnight at a fellow PCVs site. Which may lead you to ask, "How in the hell don't you have time to write an email every once in a while?". "Dak shi suwl myzan" is my reply. (that's a good question!). Well if you're on this list, you know me well, and you know I'm a procrastinator. When there is so little pressing in my life, what can I procrastinate but writing updates?
Well, here goes, here's a little report of some highlights of the last couple of months1. Glaoui goes missing, soon misses balls. So I have a cat.
This story will be told in two parts, as I fear I've already told you the first part?
His name is el Glaoui
, which is the name of the family or tribe of Berbers who controlled the Marrakech region during the time of the French protectorate. Every little town has an old, decaying Kasbah which is referred to as the "glaoui
". Knowing this, I thought it'd be a nice name for my cat. When I first told his name to my neighbor, Malika, she nodded and we continued the conversation. Later in the same conversation, I said his name again, and she said "OOH, I thought you said "Klaoui"?" "What's Klaoui?" I asked naively. She made the international gesture of cupping your hands and holding them, say, about the level of a man's balls. Hmmmm, so she thought I'd named my cat "testicles" and didn't even flinch. I don't know what that says about me. All my PCV friends find it hilarious, and call him "Balls". And generally I get odd looks from Moroccans I tell his name to, which I figure can be for one of 3 reasons. 1. they think I've said "testicles", 2. they think it's inappropriate to name an animal a human's name, or 3. they justifiably dislike the Glaoui family as they were collaborators with the French. Maybe I should just tell people his name is Balls. Most of my neighbors also think his name is "here kitty kitty" cuz that's how i call him. Teaching english, little by little, I am.
Now for months now I've been saying I need to take Glaoui in to be neutered. This also provokes "Hashumas" from all Moroccans who say he needs to have a wife. Allah wants him to have a wife. I've responded that I think Allah dislikes dead starving kittens in the street more than he wants my cat to have balls. Glaoui's always been an indoor cat, other than frolicking in the sun on my roof. But last December, the night before I'd made an appointment to have him neutered, he gets out downstairs, and is missing for two days. He's a smart cat. So he had a reprieve through the Christmas holiday when I went home. But a week after I returned from the U.S., he got out again, and was missing for a week. I kept thinking he'd come back to eat his fancy "marjane food" ( I buy him Whiskas much to the chagrin and amazement of my neighbors) and to escape the cold. But he didn't return. I decided to print up some photos of him and post them around the neighborhood. I took the photos into the dar chabab to ask my students what to write on them. I started putting my phone number on the photos and they totally laughed at me. They said they couldn't imagine anyone spending 2 dirhams to call me about a cat. A couple of guys offered to bring me new kittens. But I persisted. Not knowing what to write on the photos, I put nothing. Then I went to a couple of Hanuts (little shops) near my house and asked if I could put them up there. Both shopkeepers agreed. When a couple of little girls approached, I pointed to the photo and asked if they'd seen my cat. They looked at the photo and, smiling broadly with delight, exclaimed "Wa3ra
!" Which means "awesome". I was mortified. They thought I was putting the photos of my cat around cuz I thought he was a great looking cat and then asking random strangers to admire him. Crazy freaking American lady, I'm sure they were thinking. I didn't have much hope the photos would work. Plus my friend Teresa mocked me incessantly for putting up photos without any information. Not even "Lost cat". But wonder of wonders, a couple of days after I put the photos up, two extremely nice guys showed up at my door with Glaoui! I'm vindicated!! That was a couple of weeks ago and he's since been de-balled. Mskin.2. This report is sounding a little boring and stilted to me. do you agree?
3. Fun at the Dar Chabab.
Classes have been going really well, and my Friday night activity nights are a success. Last week I had 25 kids. Mostly we play music on my ipod, monopoly (which I brought back from the US) and other games like chess. I also brought in yarn and taught the kids to make friendship bracelets. While in the US, my brother Bruce gave me two wiffle bats and balls (we'd tried to buy them at Walmart but clearly it wasn't the right season in Nebraska). So, last Friday being school holidays and quite warm and sunny, I'd agreed to meet the boys (they're basically all boys) early. I brought the balls and bats and we went behind the DC to play. It was hilarious. I tried to play baseball rules, but couldn't get them to understand that 3 strikes you're out, or the difference between a foul tip or a hit. And we didn't really have enough people to play 3 bases, so I said they had to run to the other basketball pole and back. It was fun. Along the right side of the field is a small canal, which right now is FULL of water, because we've had a lot of rain and there's snow in the mountains which runs down here as it melts. So one kid, Hisham kept hitting it over into the canal, and all the boys would run over to the canal, and run down it, over it, etc., while I was yelling that they HAD to get the ball as I only have two. They managed to get it everytime, but then they said they didn't want to use the real wiffle ball any more, the one with the holes, cuz they were afriad it was going to sink. But I'm hopeful we'll have an almost real game one of these days. I actually looked online for the rules for wiffle ball, which amazingly say there's no running of the bases? weird. It's like, I dont mind that, i used a pinch runner anyway (this little kid who was gawking at the game and I totally freaked him out by telling him to "Jri, jri, jri!" (run, run, run)), but half the point is the get the kids running around. Does anyone have ideas for simplified rules? The wiffle ball rules are pretty different from baseball really, and I'd like for the kids to know baseball (lord knows why I care! what are the odds it'll ever come in handy for them?).
In class, I've been slowly trying to instill some all-american values. I did a lesson where they had to prepare a compatibility checklist of their ideal mate. I explained it to them (a class of 8 boys and no girls) and said they had to envision their ideal girlfriend, "or boyfriend, lli briti, 3adi". Which means, "or boyfriend, as you wish, it's normal". They all laughed at that. Now whenever I get a chance, I'll say, "or boyfriend, 3adi". I'm hoping it'll help? Who knows? Or they think I' m a crazy american woman...... A couple of hours after starting out, we realized we needed to find shade in order to eat. This is Abdelaali, I call him the accountant. He looks and acts like one.