Sunday, July 3, 2011

First Morning

The view from my pillow

When I woke up this morning, I looked at the high, ribbed ceiling (at least 12') and felt like I was in the hall of a monastery. It was cool and quiet. Sanctuary.

There was a wedding going on nearby yesterday, so when I went to bed (about midnight) I could hear the intermittent ululation that is a part of all weddings here, and the singing and drum beating. It turns out a common pathway in town goes right alongside my bedroom wall, so there was a lot of foot traffic passing my windows as people went to and from the wedding. Hushed voices, the sound of feet on the stony path, the peripheral glow of a flashlight from window to window. At first it felt weird. I thought, “What if they shine their flashlight in here?” But then I thought, “Well, that would be rude, but what else?” Since all the windows have steel grillwork on them, there was no danger of someone just climbing through the window, so I rolled over and went to sleep. About 4:30, I was awakened by the first call to prayer. I’m closer to the mosque here, and the call is much louder. At 6:30, the crowing of rooster woke me for good.

I got up to do my morning ablutions. I’ve learned that when you move into a new place, it takes a while to learn how to live in it. I’d had an idea of how and where I wanted to do my washing and shaving, but it didn’t work out that well. I’ll try it differently tomorrow.

My kitchen, so far
Then I turned my attention to breakfast. Despite spending most of my settling in allowance on Wednesday and Thursday for a mattress, refrigerator, table and chairs, and kitchen and cleaning supplies, I still have no dishes, glasses, or silverware. And no food! In a bag that I hadn’t opened in months, I found a French press, a travel mug from the Coffee Grounds, my favorite coffee shop back in Grand Haven, and some packets of Constant Comment and Lord Grey tea. A friend had sent a care package that arrived a few days ago, so I had tea and a package of Nutter Butters for breakfast.



My work space. It's at the opposite end of the long room
from the sitting area.
Before I moved on Friday, I walked with Mohammed, my host father, to the polling place. In case you’re not keeping up with international news, Friday was the referendum on the Moroccan government’s proposed constitutional reforms.

It was a big deal. Unlike other North African and Middle Eastern countries, Morocco has not been wracked by violence. There are probably many reasons for this, but two important ones are that the king, Mohammed VI, was already known as a reformer, and that when the “Arab Spring” bloomed six months ago, the king immediately announced there would be further reforms in which he would relinquish some of his power to the elected government. The reforms were announced a couple of weeks ago. In the referendum, voters had the choice of voting Yes or No. It passed with about 98% of the vote. That doesn’t surprise me. In my town, the king seems universally loved, and his proposals were greeted with approval.

My sitting area, with a rug loaned to me by my host
family. The blue flooring you see is agrtil, a plastic fabric
used everywhere as an underflooring. On my budget
I'm using it as my carpeting.
The voting itself was interesting, a lot like home. It took place at the local elementary school. Desks had been piled up to make room for the poll workers. There were three prominent local citizens working as poll workers, checking voter registration, etc. Voters received 2 cards, one Yes, one No, and an envelope. They went into the voting booth, put their choice in the envelope and slipped the other into a discard box. They came out and dropped the envelope with their vote into a clear box. People, all men when I went there, stood outside in the shade of some trees chatting. There was one big difference: they served tea!

In the evening, I asked my sisters if they had voted. They all assured me they had, later in the day. 

My sleeping nook, at one end of the "monastery" hall

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