Monday, October 23, 2006


2nd of 3 more entries posted by Elisa. Sharon wrote this on Sept 27th.

I should note that the hamman has separate hours for women and men – also different hours in Ramadan. Everything’s different in Ramandan.

Speaking of which, I love Ramadan! Okay, the fasting part is not easy – I’ll confess to drinking, but I’m not drinking enough – but the rest is fun. At 3:25 AM, there’s a musician (or two – sounds like a drum and maybe a clarinet) who walk through the town waking everyone up so they can have their pre-dawn meal. Drums I’m partial to anyway, of course; the clarinet melody sounds like a “snake-charmer” song. My family opts to sleep through rather than have a pre-dawn meal – that’s fine with me, because I probably would have joined them, and I’m not sure I’d have been able to fall asleep.

L’ftur, the break-fast, is great. I could eat it every day! Which is good, because I’m going to eat it every day during the month, while I’m in homestay (curious to see what’s at the seminar site). I always start with a piece of shbekya, a twisted cookie that’s sticky-sweet. The stores around there have huge pyramids of them – maybe the analogy is Halloween candy appearing in the stores before Halloween. T hen there’s a filled break – kind of like an inside-out pizza. I’ve found most of the bread to be resistible, but the filled one I can fill up on. There are other breads – a sweet one that you put jam or honey on, for example, but the filled one I zeroes in on. There are hard-boiled eggs, dates, a sesame-peanut paste, another little pastry that’s like baklava, and juice – a fresh fruit – smoothie – like juice. There’s tea and coffee (which I notice that people here put a lot of milk in – maybe half) and of course the hgira soup. Sure, it has its share of sweets, but they’re sweets I like. The tea-time pastries at the Auberge were all resistible to me. But it also has its share of healthy stuff – the eggs, the soup, possibly the sesame-peanut paste and the bread filling. And the dates and smoothie – right? And – best for me – we’re eating at 6:30 PM, not 9:00 PM. Wish we could do that every day! I haven’t yet stayed up for the 1:00 AM meal, but I may try that Saturday when I can sleep late Sunday. I think my family eats light – other people in my group have described a gelatin/milk mix which I’m not sure sounds good but I think that’s what they have. Other families have a big tagine or other major production.

You know it’s time to eat, per the Quran, when it’s so dark you can no longer distinguish between a white thread and a black thread. Most people wait for the call to prayer, but one of my teammates lives with a family who has young children, and they did that, and she said it was a magic, spiritual moment – she likened it to the moment when your parents say it’s okay to open the presents.* At the end of Ramadan, the beginning of the next month has a two-day big holiday – we’ll be at homestay for that so more on that as I experience it. Next year I’ll be at my site so it’ll be easier to get into the rhythm – when I leave for school, my family is asleep. Of course, I won’t be with a family then, but Moroccans don’t like to let people eat alone, so I hope to have integrated into the community enough to have many visitations. The volunteer who’s based here lived with my family for her homestay and she’s here all the time.

* My family wasn’t that dramatic. In fact, they aren’t hovering to eat right at the call. T he teenaged son, the neighbor who comes often and the guest from America are often first at the table (the latter would prefer to wait for everyone but keeps being admonished to “kuli, kuli” – not just at the beginning but throughout the meal, should she happen not to be reaching for something or chewing something for more than a second) and the sister and parents come later (which makes it hard to say “bismallan”) – they also start clearing before I can say – well, one of a few things you can say at the end of a meal but which I haven’t memorized because I don’t get a chance to say them!

Last night I dreamed I was on the subway to Yankee Stadium (which was inexplicably in Brooklyn). I woke up out of the dream, wondering what the standings are. It’s the last week of the season. Is it going down to the wire?

The picture is of a bag produced by the ladies of the TimHdit cooperative. I ordered one! They haven't learned to price things yet, so I have no idea how much it will cost. By the way, on maps often you can find it as Timhadite.

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