I live in Khemisset, Morocco. It’s a small town between two major cities, Rabat and Meknes. We are about 45 minutes from each city so we are in a good position to visit anywhere in Eastern Morocco. Many people have said that Marrakesh is the place to live but I beg to differ. I think that it would be very touristy and I really like getting to know the meat and bones of a place rather than be blinded by tourist attractions. We live in a small house with my husbands family. His mother is Zahre who Mbarek just discovered that she was actually 80 years old. He thought she was in her early 70’s until we actually looked at the family book. Zahre grew up in the country on a farm and spent alot of her life there. Mbareks father was Mohammed, but he is no longer with us due to a stroke and many other complications. Mohammed passed away in the early 90’s when Mbarek was barely 19 years old. He spent his life working in the Royal Moroccan Military. Zahre is a very strong woman, she’s had 7 children and only 4 of them are still living. Mbarek has 3 siblings, Habiba – his sister in her 50’s, Abdul-Waled in his early 30’s, Hamid in his late 50’s.
Every morning Zahre gets up and starts to make fresh bread and food. She’s a tiny woman who you can tell has worked hard all of her life. Here the women keep the house very clean and tidy, unlike what I’m use to doing which is throwing my shit everywhere. Not here! I think this will be some great discipline for me. Since I do not work I am responsible for keeping our home and room tidy. Although right now the ladies will not even let me wash my dishes when I cook. That’s not fair because I want to contribute. Habiba works every day cleaning the police station. She never got a chance to go to school because she took care of Mbarek and Abudl-Waled also their sister Malika who was very sick. Malika passed a few years ago from a disease. All of the women here are very shy so getting their photos is hard. But I will try to get some eventually when their shyness wears off.
Zahre is native Berber. Remember the Berbers of of Morocco from history, they use to go and conquer Spain all the time? Berbers are indigenous to Northern Africa and they span all the way from Morocco to Egypt. Zahre has tattoos from when she got married to Mohammed it’s a Berber tradition as well as decorating women with Henna. Her tattoos are on her face, her forehead and chin, as well as around her ankles. This is a photo I found online that reminds me of my mother in law. She is a tiny little woman and so cute. She constantly is on me about wearing my sandals in the house on the tile floor. She’s cute. Yesterday I bought her an oven so she can bake bread. They had an oven but it broke and they just never got it fixed, so I bought them another one.
Berbers speak the Amazigh languages which are all from pre-Arab times around 2000 BC. Here in Morocco traditional Arabic is ok to use but they have a dialect that is much older than Arabic and is derived from the Amzigh languages it’s called Maghrebi the dialect is Darija. Darija is a mix of Arabic, French and the ancient languages. Very interesting. Many say that the Darija or Moroccan Arabic is the most difficult to learn. I have to say I’m picking up quickly but don’t let me fool you it’s hard!
Our kitchen is small so with 3 women in the kitchen it’s tight. I try to do what I need to do and let the other ladies have their space. Zahre loves to cook so I’m gonna let her do her thing, lol. Habiba works very hard everyday. When she is not working she is working in our home. She and Zahre sleep on the floor, which most country folks have done for many years, so they like to clean all the time in the living room. Since Mbarek is the man of the house he gets the bigger room. I have to say I feel bad that they don’t have an actual bed but he assures me that he’s offered a bed to them but they love sleeping on the floor. Zahre sleeps on wooly sheeps skin for cushion and warmth. Habiba sleeps on small thin mattresses which she puts up each night. Here are some photos of our living room. You can see the little pallet on the floor under the window.
So now that we’ve talked about the living room let’s go to the kitchen!
This is our small kitchen!
There is a refrigerator but you can’t see it because Habiba is blocking it. The cook top sits on the floor because Zahre’s back has her bent over and she does everything squatting or on the floor. She can’t stand straight up because all of her life she has spent bending over so she has a hard time with tall things like the kitchen counter top. This is the outdoor room off the kitchen and our view from my room. The blue bags are the wheat straight from our farm. They make the bread directly from the wheat. They wash it and grind it and make the bread daily. Here in this photo Zahre is washing dishes because she can’t wash them at the sink like the rest of us do. Washing clothes is fun, we wash them by hand! Yes I said by HAND, then we hang them to dry out here and on the front of the house. Let’s put it this way… you wash things every couple of days so you don’t have a ton of things. We wash clothes in the bathroom. I’m not sure that you would call it a bathroom. The bathroom is like a room for everything. You go to the bathroom and shower all in the same room. This was very different for me but it is what I expected, I just hadn’t encountered it before so it’s a tad bit different. There isn’t a hot water heater like in the US. All of the hot water comes from a gas heater on the wall. Basically it’s heated as it comes out. OH wait people in the US pay alot of money to have that with the heated water, it’s the same concept as in new houses. Then there is the Turkish toilet, which I have not used yet. I could see my fat butt trying to use that I’d fall over. I’ve read that it’s the natural way to use the toilet, to squat, eventually I will try it but for now I have the toilet. Before I got here Mbarek put a toilet seat on the toilet and it’s pink. He told me that he knows my ass loves pink. LOL I was cracking up because that day I was wondering if I’d ever make it here I was having a really bad day. But my “ass” made it to sit on the toilette.
There is a big squeegee that we use to clean the bathroom. You just throw water on the floor and use the squeegee to put the water down the drain. We wear our shoes in the bathroom even though it’s clean we don’t want to slip and fall, that’s what the marks on the floor are they are from our shoes.
Our room is as big as the living room. It’s small but it’s nice. Keep in mind that we are making a little kitchen in our room so we have things sitting everywhere and Butch still has his kennel assembled because he sleeps in that at night.
What was a shock to my new reality, and I knew this, was the electrical sockets and plugs. I’m not sure they are European but they are not like we are use to. So to just plug in your phone you need a converter. That’s why I left things in the US because I knew they just weren’t worth bringing with me.
So every day Mbarek comes home from his store for lunch. Normally his sister or mother will fix food and tea. Usually it’s some kind of vegetables and meat, it’s very simple things like potatoes, carrots, and some other vegetables. It’s very good though to be so simple. I’ve noticed that the pepper here is much different than the table pepper we use in the US it’s got a different flavor and I love it. I can use it by the sack full. The salt here is a wet salt, I assume that it comes directly from the sea and is still wet because of that. We are only 45 minutes from the ocean and 2 hours from the Mediterranean. Here is the link using google maps. Check it out. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Khemisset,+Moroccofirstname.lastname@example.org,-6.1080167,13z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0xda0c2a78e1ee797:0x98ae5731fdd6c45c
So now I must go, Habiba has fixed us lunch. Ciao!