Home, Sweet Home!!!!! (kind of, of course)
I find myself back home in my dimly lit internet cafe in Fes, the strange American girl in the back right corner, a veritable attraction to the 12 by 12 room containing rough home made computer desks and keyboard trays and many Moroccan boys, everpresent at their perches, two to a computer, always here though faces sometimes change. This blog is a reproduction of the one that I just lost due to a computer freeze, at which point I made eye contact with the 'moul dyal cyber' (king of computers in this little enterprise), who eithed rolled his eyes at me or grinned (he threw his head back in a way that made his facial expression oddly hard to read). He eventually squeezed his way back to my corner and diagnosed after a few minutes that my computer was frozen and I should use another one. Helpful. So I pointed to my open notebook and told him I had just typed everything that was splayed out in front of me, wasn't there anything he could do? He said, 'no problem' and walked away.
So now I sit at the adjacent computer, still in my back right corner. The sun has set and the call to prayer just sounded, and I can hear the boys of the night that contributed to the mass exodus outdoors at sunset to take over alleyways across the medina with games of soccer.
I have been in Fes for a week now, and have avoided computers completely, because I simply have no time. I am currently running an hour late for dinner. However, for a brief update: I miraculously ended up back with my homestay family and could not be happier to be here with them in Fes! I have organized an individualized Arabic program to cram in as much as possible before departure in two weeks and thus far have found it rewarding beyond imagination; I am working with two teachers for many hours daily, Fatima Zohra and Hisham, whom I will elaborate more on later. Other than class and spending extraordinary amounts of time with my host family, I can be found with Lamia, Kempie, Alexis, and Ellie, working on calligraphy, woodcarving, or playing at an orphanage.
At this point, the most useful thing I can think to do is provide for you definitions of the major characters in my Moroccan scene, both old and new, that I have not had a chance thus far to tell you about:
Kempie (kem"pi) n. 3dis (translation: lentils); What is Kempie? Picture a blond haired yound woman in a teal hoody and yoga pants, most likely, camera over shoulder, with a laid back attitude--"everything's natural", I should say-- overlying a sharp mind, that combine in the form of one of my site leaders. She plans a lot, drinks coca cola more, and I'm still trying to grasp a linear understanding of the places in which she has lived (think Indonesia, India, Spain, Micronesia, Morocco of course, etc).
Warning: It may take dire measures to control Kempie's laughter if she hears the word "exciting".
Lamia (lā'mē-ə) n? Picture a half-Moroccan, half-exoticAmerican (born and raised between the southwest and Alaska--would you agree on the use of the word 'exotic'?) who loves her pigtails and can be found in any crowd due to her favorite neon orange Moroccan blouse. Ready to try anything, she has a stomach of steal, and brings her French and knowledge of development--after nine months of masters work in Bangladesh-- to the table as my other site leader; will argue to the death that Moroccan food is so healthy that it will make you live to an average of 95.
Warning: Be prepared for mass ruckus if you engage Lamia in a game of cards.
Alexis (uh-lek-sis) n. Check it out: a philosophizer, choclatizer, calligrapher, artist, thinker, writer, poet, reader, French speaker, she is a native of DC and the person to contact if you know anyone from the chesapeake region (she will please you with her excitement whether she knows them or not). Witty and eager to learn, she has dug her teeth into l'magreb and is pulling out everything she can find, from Lahsen's (on the scarier side) to wedding showers (picture a tall zuin american girl breaking it down on the Moroccan dancefloor).
Warning: Beware if you sing Cat Stevens to Alexis, she will swoon over you for the rest of your life, even if you are a squat, bald, crosseyed Moroccan man (sorry Joey, Hamidou's captured your girl's heart).
Ellie (sal-muh-nel-uh) n. Did someone say Texas? The first female boyscout I have been so profoundly priveleged to meet--upon inquiry she may even make a fire or offer you some twine-- she devours books like no other. Some think she's Moroccan, others Brazilian (though her true roots lie in Mexico), and although she definitely loves a dos-ee-do (sp?) at a good ol' Rodeo, she's found a passion in the pursuit of education about moroccan politics and the Mudawanna (and maybe a scoop of gelato here and there).
Warning: Being the prepared boyscout that she is, Tex may pull her ready-to-go Swiss army knife on you (me) and pretend to be villainous... and then proceed to lie to everyone else about it. Don't trust that sweet facade (she will undoubtedly seem like one of the sweetest people you've ever met).
Fatima Zohra (fah-ti-muh zawr-uh) n. Picture a young, smartly outfitted Moroccan woman with emaculate English and pristine organizational skills who runs SACAl Fez. She generously spends her time with a dimwit (yours truly), brilliantly encouraging me to always work harder, learn faster, and rewarding me occasionally with a "bravo, 3lik" here and there.
Hisham (hee-sham) n. Ironic and sarcastic young Fassian; tall, slender, and always wearing slacks, a button-up, and shiny shoes. Heads up, he will undoubtedly seem like he is on the attack, only to turn around and congratulate you on your pathetic attempt to speak his language. Doesn't understand that the acoustics of our classroom make his mumbling impossible to understand, though probably all for the better given how much easier I now find talking to anyone else. Knowledgable; proof: explained to my disbelief that the huge sheep heard that I see grazing in the streets of Fes every morning, with shephard in a nike sweatsuit, lives in the basement of the building next to SACAL.
Anti-Warning?: Don't worry if he invites you to dinner, he has a wife and kids and is not creepy (more than I can say of the many men who have proposed to me and every other foriegn woman they see).
Ouadi (wah-dee) n. Fully covered undergrad at university in Fes, my friend and teacher of everything Moroccan, she bears with me through my problemùs speaking darija. Encouraging, beautiful handwriting, quick to help or correct. Pastimes including gazing at the stars, studying, studying, studying and did I mention studying?
Warning: She is dedicated to her studies (who would have guessed) so if you happen to be her ex-British fiance, note that she refuses to stay inside for the rest of her life (if you aren't sure even though she broke of your marriage the other week)
Toufiq (tu-fik) n. Free wheeling, strong and lean driver from our trip south. Imparted friendship and humor despite my absurd complaints that i was sick because of xubs (bread). Gave me oregano to make me feel better and did not complain once about our blaring music, from Marrakesh to Essaouira to Oarzazate to Tinehir to the Todra Gorge to the Saharan sunsets at Merzouga to Midelt to Fes. I gave him a Red Sox key chain when we siad goodbye and he looked confused, rightfully so (who are the Red Sox, why are you giving me a key chain, what is wrong with you, are you crazy), but politely thanked me anyways.
Note: If you have a preposterous amount of luggage and must resort to tieing it to the roof of your car, holler at Toufiq.
I know, I have some work to do before any dictionary accepts these entries, but hey, I tried. Even though 'My Heart Will Go On' is blasting from every corner of my internet cafe and the boys next to me are putting on quite a show with their humming to it, I think I must head back for dinner to relieve my host mom of her worries. Hope all is well in your corner of earth.