Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lasting note


Mysterious and exotic. Spectacular food and a wonderful teaching assignment. Lovely house and gardens. Great companions. Sights I longed to see and those I never anticipated. Morocco was a great adventure.



What a tiny few observations can be made after being absorbed into the world, yet never really part of it, for three weeks!

The laws of the country and the tenants of the faith are so interwoven in Morocco. Leaders of the mosques are chosen by the local community but paid by the government as are all the needs of the mosque. One attends whatever mosque is nearby at prayer time so the sense of a faith community as we know it does not exist. Connections are made in the family, the hammam and tea shop. The current legal time zone is adjusted for the fasting of Ramada. The king is a ruler, but many do not like his wife who was the first queen ever seen in public and does not wear a scarf.

I think that is why the powder keg in the Middle East is so hard for Westerners to understand. Issues of power and control and lack become inflamed with religious offense so easily, and what is conveyed via press on both sides is so far from either truth, but accepted as fact on both sides.

Continual Reminders of Other


Five times a day the call sounds from the minaret: time to pray. Although I see very few people stop at those moments to pray, the calls begin to govern the hours of all who live in Morocco. It is a constant reminder from 4 or 5 directional speakers at once that 98% of those around us are believers in the Koran and the Prophet and the Five Tenants. Intellectual ideas for us; consuming ways of life for them.

There is no way to discuss without defense our different beliefs. We both have answers for each other’s questions which make so much sense as to not be discussable. I suppose I would be as successful explaining the mysteries of real body and blood in Holy Communion as they were initiating me into why Jesus did not die but was replaced in the tomb by someone who looked like him. The Westerners listen without contradiction. The Moroccans do not ask any questions they cannot answer.

The key to the faith as it was explained to me, and as it makes sense now in day to day life in Morocco and world events, is the individual’s relationship to Allah at the center of the faith. One is required to give to charity, to pray, to keep the Ramadan fast, to believe in God and the Prophet, to make a pilgrimage. Having done that, responsibility is fulfilled: one is right with Allah and anticipates heavenly reward. Duty to family is culturally key, as is modesty in women. But central tenants Christians hold close such as forgiveness by God and each other, compassion and gracious giving are just not in the motivating conscious mind of those I met.

World of Secrets


Morocco invites one to enter and explore, but not too far. The mosque doors in the medina are unlocked. Visible inside the unmarked door is a pile of shoes and a simple protective wall. In the more spacious areas, the mosques are full of arches and shadows, water pools and tree lined paths. They are clearly oases in the endless brown surroundings. No signs, but for all the invitation to rest and peace that can be glimpsed, it is understood I as a woman, non-Muslim, am not allowed.

The medina beacons with meandering narrow alley-roads that curve tantalizingly, promising a great discovery just around the corner, but a few steps off the path in an unknown direction and the noise of the market disappears. The walls are painted cooling whites or blue and doors are uniquely decorated, but shut tight. Windows are high on the walls and covered with black grill, allowing no casual peek at the life inside. Life and noise are in the walled garden and patio, but only the family enters.

The women chatter and giggle, haggle and shout, link arms and cling close in the market, but most heads are covered, a few even veil faces. Even the young girls cover elbows and legs in the hottest weather. For all the universal female traits, the Westerner gets the sense of not belonging.

It is mysterious and exotic, a little exclusive and off putting, with a touch of dark and frightening. Inviting, curiously compelling, completely unknowable.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moons and Bye-byes

Ah the blue moon. Lots of info on what and when but not why that name. Found it! The Christian calendar, used for dating movable feasts like Easter,  is based on 12 Full moons, 1 per month. Mostly. So then the 13th moon showed up they referred ito it as a Betrayal Moon because it threw off ao the tidy planning. And in Old English betrayal is  "belewe" moon.

So with that bit of trivia it is time for good byes here - I gave my students a list of movies to watch to improve their English and a way to use Google to get news in English. I think some will keep going. They have more than they did 3 weeks ago. Plus they know Chicago Bulls. That alone will impress their friends at the hammam.

I have lots of reflection and contrasts but they will wait until after a week in Spain.  I'll also add pictures to the blog and let you all know when it is ready for enhanced viewing. Thanks for taking the journey with me!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pulled into the future

Suddenly it is 48 hours until I get on a big plane again. I filled out my final evaluation form and poked in my suitcase to see if I need to buy more souvenirs. (yes) tomorrow is the last day of teaching. Sadly there are no volunteers to continue this job, but most of the students will go back to school next month so they will be busy. But no one will talk English to them.

Arabic is the first language taught, followed by French in grade 1. The most recent addition to the curriculum is Berber as some were afraid of losing touch with their roots. English is still an elective and #4 on the list. These students can read individual words - although I had to  explain "independence" and "kite"! Did they not read the Kite Runner? - but had no idea what an E at the end did the the vowel in the middle as far as pronouncation goes. Or two vowels together. I have not even touched all the exceptions. What a complicated language.

Many of them are on Facebook and hopefully they play games with English speakers. Bejeweled is universal.

From here I meet Bob in Spain and tour Barcelona and Madrid.  Back in the US on Sept 9. Thanks to my son and friend for manning the house and enduring the bites of the cat.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Every country has one - huge warehouse jungle of clothes, food, washing machines, toys, bedding, fresh fruit, confusingly located under one roof. Here we have Marjane. And next to it a McDonalds. But today's run was necessary because there's was a sever shortage of ice cream in the house. Desserts are always fruit. This was so desperate we had to eat one on the way home, 1/2 melted and dripping. Exquisite.

What I really crave: bacon. Bacon cheeseburgers, bacon sandwich, bacon with pancakes, eggs and bacon, bacon wrapped hot dogs..