Friday, November 27, 2009

Home Alone

This is always a tough time of year to be away from the U.S. Thanksgiving has now come and gone and I have survived my third year away from family and friends on my favorite holiday. It helps a great deal to get together with other Americans during these holidays. Yesterday, our school director treated all the American employees (there were 8 of us, including the Director himself) to a huge lunch at a posh restaurant. We had wine, too much food, lots of laughs and an overwhelming urge for a nap afterwards. Too bad we all had to teach that evening.

Now that just leaves Christmas to get through. Luckily, we don't have to work that day. I don't think I could bear working on Christmas day. But the end of the fall semester always coincides with Christmas so the school is blessedly closed. Even though it's great to miss the over-commercialization of Christmas, it's not-so-great to miss your family, friends and the traditions of a Christmas tree, carols and holiday merrymaking.

Everyone here is in the final stages of Eid Khbir fever. There are lines of people outside every food stall, knives being sharpened for the sacrifical sheep who will succumb to the knife tomorrow morning, women scurrying to and from the bakery with trays of cookies, breads and sweets on their heads (these bakeries are ovens where goods prepared at home are baked for a small fee) and sheep being carted to homes and then carried up to terraces to enjoy their final moments. Everyone says all the cats disappear when the moment of the sacrifice arrives. As the medina is filled with cats, not seeing one is unusual. I wonder ... do the cats smell the blood or do they sense the panic and resignation of the sheep? Hard to say.

Regardless, tomorrow I will spend the day alone. I am teaching today but plan to stop by Cafe Clock tonight to buy some premade food for tomorrow as all shops will be closed up tight. I haven't had the time or desire to fight the crowds at the stores to lay in some food so I will once again turn to my ready food source at the cafe for nourishment. Some couscous, a plastic bowl of my own filled with homemade harira and the baguettes, cheese and eggs I have managed to purchase should see me through the day quite nicely.

I doubt I will even venture outside my door tomorrow. The teenaged boys will have set up their fires for roasting the sheeps' heads right outside my door and I want to turn a blind eye to the activities. No garbage pickup tomorrow, of course, so there will be lots of stuff I don't want to investigate thrown out on the streets too. I have a few movies to watch, several litres of linseed oil to paint my new cedarwood doors and windows and a book to get me through the day.

Holidays have taken on a whole new meaning for me. I'm not sure it's altogether to my liking but somehow I know it's good for me to have these experiences and cultivate the tolerance and understanding needed to appreciate what I miss and accept what I don't really resonate with.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Strong Women

Strong Women

It should come as no surprise that the foreign women who take up residence here in Morocco are particularly strong and interesting women. Coming from all parts of the world, I have met some truly fascinating females. There are artists, writers, teachers, workshop organizers, actresses, young mothers, dancers, computer programmers, psychics, massage therapists and more.

These women are incredibly intrepid and creative. Others are full of electric energy. Their accents are Australian, South African, British, Welsh, American, French, Irish, German, Spanish --- you name it. It seems to me more foreign women than men are taking up residence here.

Why is that?

There certainly isn’t an abundance of what I would call feminine energy here. In fact, I often feel it’s an overwhelmingly male energy that permeates the city.

Is that what draws the women?

Of course there is an abundance of gorgeous males to look at and lots of attention (both positive and negative) is showered on foreign women.

Is that it?

Not only are the women coming here to live, but they are buying houses and restoring them. They are starting businesses or finding jobs in a tough job market. Certainly this is not the easiest place to negotiate major transactions and projects like restoring ancient buildings and having to hire workers when you don’t even speak the language. And, more often than not, have never tackled a restoration project before.

Are they crazy or what?

Personally, I lean towards the ‘or what’ explanation. The more experience I have, the more I see it is women who are the stronger sex. They can do so much on so many levels. And the women who come here are full of an adventurous spirit. I think they are drawn here because it’s a peaceful place and relatively inexpensive to live here.

Don’t you just love women?