My workdays during week three were filled with reorganizing the library. Moving shelves, sorting out picture books and junior fiction, peeling tape, selecting featured books, and making to-do lists. I also spent a great deal of my week walking and cooking, though not at the same time. I cooked two vegetable curries, pizza for six,1 meringues, countless fresh fruit smoothies, and tabbouleh with parsley from the Sunday market, picked fresh that morning. I scavenged some beautiful succulents from the edge of a beach and finally found a basil plant, both of which are sitting happily on my balcony. I even found time to argue about Shakespeare.
A Moroccan family welcomed me into their home for breakfast (iftar) (dinner) where I had phenomenal soup,2 sesame cookies sweetened with honey,3 fresh-squeezed orange juice, and the most impressive assortment of pastries, cakes, and breads that I’ve ever seen on one table. The conversation was in Berber, and I loved listening to the musical quality of the language, much more lilting than Arabic. Everyone was laughing and smiling. The elderly mother-in-law maintained an incredible pokerface for several minutes at a time, then would suddenly crack a joke that left the rest of the family in stitches. Her mouth would twitch into a smile each time this happened, before resuming her stoic demeanor. When it was discovered that I am here without my family,4 I was instructed to return often.
I revisited Asilah, choosing all the streets I hadn’t explored the weekend before. I filled my pockets with seashells. Sprinted into the ocean.5 Chatted with an artist in her shop, who told me all about Arabic calligraphy. Used English, French, and Arabic to buy groceries.6 Found some new feline models.7 I played my mandolin late into the night, accompanying the sounds of the neighborhood that drift in through the open window. Children laughing, dogs dreaming, my neighbors practicing Chopin on their new piano. I wake up from nightmares where I’m back in the US, then look around the bedroom at my plants, my shells, the sun winking through my shutters, the smell of the ocean, and breathe a sigh of relief.
- On Moroccan flatbread, with green peppers, garlic, onions, fresh tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and parmesan. [↩]
- Called harira. I’m getting the recipe, don’t worry! [↩]
- Halwa shebakia. [↩]
- A terrible predicament in Moroccan culture, where most adults live with their parents at least until marriage. Many households have three generations under one roof. Family is celebrated here every day, it seems. I saw an incredible amount of love and affection that night, and felt honored to be welcomed into their circle. [↩]
- Special bonus! Click here to see what my hair looks like after a day in the Moroccan sun, wind, and sea spray. [↩]
- Okay, so I only know one or two words in Arabic so far. But I use them every chance I get! [↩]
- Many more photos on Flickr. [↩]