Well, Christmas is in 10 days. As I write this, Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” video, is playing on Vevo via my AppleTV. Yup, Feeling a bit melancholy. Yesterday I purchased my gifts online to have them sent to my family in the states. I wanted to purchase things here and send them, but with customs and the 5000 mile distance the cost would be outrageous via DHL…so, I opted to purchase gifts from Morocco and have them sent to my Mom and brother. The others on my list will be receiving something special, too.
This past Monday, the 12th, was the Muslim equivalent to our Christmas. Malwid is the celebration of the birth of the prophet Mohammed. For the people of Morocco, it is a day to spend with family and a day of feast. Very similar to home, but no lights, Christmas trees or presents. Nothing commercialized at all…just a simple day of sharing time and food with loved ones. Rouchdi had to work, as many Moroccans seemed to but, it is my understanding that people with office jobs and Government offices were closed. Once again, much like home.
That day, I decided to take a walk to the beach with my camera. As I was preparing to leave, there was a knock at the door. I opened the door to find two little girls bearing a huge basket of citrus fruit. The family of my landlord was in town and the were kind enough to include us in their celebration. I thanked the girls and they answered “Your welcome”, something that was a bigger surprise to me. I tried to communicate with them, to no avail. So, in the spirit of the American holidays, I left the door open and proceeded to put the basket on the counter and grab 10 dirhams for the girls to show my appreciation. I handed them the coin and the exclaimed, “Oh, no,no.” I proceeded to tell them it was ok, to take it and but themselves a treat. Who knows if they understood what I said, but they trotted off happily down the stairs.
I took my walk to the beach contemplating the language barrier, once again. I know I have to get a handle on this language learning issue. My half-hearted online learning attempts just aren’t cutting it. I’m really a book learner. Old School. I can’t help it. Although the online lessons are interactive, they just don’t grab me. I need a book to hold in my hands and read. Reading online hurts my eyes and gives me a headache. I found a bookstore in Agadir. So, next time we go to town I hope to purchase an English learning book or two. If not, I hope to at least order them. I found one on Amazon called “Moroccan Arabic: Shnoo the Hell is Going On H’naa? A Practical Guide to Learning Moroccan Darija” . I hope to be able to order it and get a book on French. Fingers crossed.
I arrived at the beach, and it was packed. No photos today for me. But I can tell you that I absolutely fell in love with the camels here. They are just the sweetest looking, most interesting creatures to me. They walk regally with their heads held high, eyes nearly closed…on feet that I found amazing. Not hooves like horses, but soft fuzzy feet. I had never noticed them before because the camels were always laying down. OMG, even more of a reason for me to want to touch them! But, I keep my distance. The owner is always lurking around and I’m not interested in getting yelled at or asked for money. So, I admire the beautiful creatures form a short distance until the day comes that I can actually pet them.
I sat at the beach watching everyone, surfing, talking, enjoying family on their holiday. When the clouds hid the sun it got cold so I took a walk and headed home. I’m not sure how long I was home then, there was another knock at the door. This time It was a woman (one of the landlords sisters.I assume) bearing a plate of lentils over malwi. Im not sure if Im spelling that right but Im going by the pronunciation. Malwi is a type of crepe without sugar. Its prepared then, cut up looking almost like cooked egg noodles. I’ve seen it a lot at the souk. The local women prepare it right there, and sell it in bags. Anyway, I thanked the woman at the door, she just smiled and nodded. Then turned and left. I was amazed at the kindness. When Rouchdi came home I asked him why they were bringing us food. I mean outside of the obvious, that it was a feast day. I asked because I didn’t hear them delivering food to anyone else in the building. He laughed and said maybe they like us. Like us? No one in Mounirs (landlord) family knows us, I said. I thought maybe it was because Rouchdi is the only Moroccan living in the building, the people who upstairs are French. Or, maybe they knew I was home alone and felt sorry for me. The consensus was that it just may have been a combination of all those reasons.
So, this is how I spent the day on the Muslim equivalent of Christmas. As an outsider, I was brought into their world through kindness and the universal language of food. Food is something that breaks the barrier of language. It brings comfort to all and the sharing of it can turn a stranger into a friend. Kindness, love, sharing and givng….isnt this the purest meaning of the celebration of Christmas, in any country, language or religion, after all?