Monday, 6pm Moroccan time.
I have been quite sick for a couple of days. Actually, Sunday, I was out of bed less than 20 minutes total, most of that being a late afternoon shower. Saturday, I stayed at the studio working all day, not hiking, as I knew I was a wee bit tired. Seems that I caught a bug—then, BOOM. Sunday. Thanks to lots of support I am much better now, thank goodness.
That is one way to keep vigil with the women marching around the world. There may have been some lying down on cool tiles.
But I’ll take this time recovering here in my princess sheets to tell you about my latest adventure.
Friday afternoon I had an adventure that would definitely not happen in the USA. I went to the patisserie with Sapi, the other artist-in-residence at Green Olive Arts. She and I ordered coffee and cookies and sat in the dark back seating area. It’s a quiet oasis, calm, and safe, with just the king to watch over us. Café normal means straight espresso (or Café b’la haleeb, means coffee without milk); that’s what I order. Sapi likes café au lait: the barista(o?) brings the little glass of espresso out to the table and then pours the milk for her. The napkins are thin green sheets of paper cut into triangles. Cookies this time are something new and seem to have almond inside.
A lady comes back to have her coffee. Quite soon after she is speaking to me in French, and I move to her table so I can hear her amongst all the noises of the café and the road work outside. She is from Brussels, and invites us to couscous. “Yes!” I say. After some more conversation: “Maintainant?” (now) she asks? “Yes” I say. Sapi needs to continue to work.
So, this woman and I—without even knowing each other’s names, leave, jump in a taxi and go off to a part of Tetuoan I am not familiar with—past the Modern Art Museum, the Lovers Park, the Artisan School, and past even the Muslim cemetery (a massive eternal city). We arrive and I am welcomed generously by her Aunts (pretty sure), her two daughters, her grand-daughter, and her son. Orange Juice is offered (so delicious). After about 10 minutes, we are off again. Her eldest daughter drives, baby as copilot in baby seat. In the back are four of us of to Martile. Martile is outside Tetuoan about 20 minutes, near the beach.
Apparently, it’s been 2 years since everyone went to the other sister’s house, and so we are lost for quite some time, winding in and out of nearly identical narrow streets with nearly identical constructions. So many new buildings have sprung up it is no wonder they can’t find the apartment building. The buildings are massive cement structures, rectangular, basically the same color. No names for roads, and even when roads are named, no one knows how to navigate that way. Instead, you navigate by what things are close. I am not sure how we get there, but we arrive.
I am so graciously welcomed here too. This is tradition—the couscous on Friday afternoon with family. Every Friday—prayer day—families gather all over Morocco for this wonderful dish with couscous, vegetables, chicken or something, and the caramelized onions and chickpeas (my favorite part). I can’t believe that they would invite a stranger. I am so honored.
After we eat, all of us gathered around a table with a massive platter, each our own spoon, and many urgings to eat (mashi), we are all full. We have fruit afterwards.
Somehow my high school French suffices, at least until my brain gets completely tired out a few hours later. Luckily, the 15-year-old daughter knows some English, and everyone is so kind that we all seem to communicate fairly well.
It has been quite cold here, snow in the mountains. People don’t have heat much in the homes, and cement buildings with tiled floors get cold. All are wearing fleece under their clothes, blankets spread over laps in the homes. Here it is the same.
Ines, her daughters, her son, and I, all pile into the car and go to the beach. It is nearly identical to Miami, but with two camels (I thought they were fake), and people in lots of layers. Palm trees. Sand. Surf. Beautiful.
We return for a lovely desert with Moroccan mint and green tea with sugar and various goodies—corn bread, pastries, warmed honey (yummmmmm). It takes me a long time to understand the word honey—its amazing that “Oh-Knee” was that hard for me to get. And then Inez made a sign like a buzzing insect, and I said “Flies?” and she says “Not flies” and then all of a sudden, I know: OF COURSE! “HONEY”! Yum.
I speak to everyone as best I can, and eventually, I feel like I can even understand some of the Derija, but I might be so tired that I don’t know which end is up. And even then, I am quite comfortable and happy with this lovely family. (I have blurred faces in the photos.)
I am pretty sure I’ve been invited to a wedding. I hope they mean it.
When I’m well, I plan to find out.
Tuesday update: All better, I think!
Wondering: If not even the locals know the street names or use them to navigate, how does anyone get mail here?
Heather Danso wears many hats. As an artist, she playfully explores work in Acrylic, printing, and multimedia, creating portraits and abstracts that explore expression, playfulness, identity, and the possible. Her CV is here.
She is also a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Method® Practitioner, yoga teacher, Awareness Through Movement® teacher.