I’m sitting here tonight on my 6 month anniversary of when I first arrived in Morocco. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for a whole 6 months but I have. I talk to my mother every day and our conversations vary each day but mostly I tell her about what’s goin on here. It’s true that I’m not a fan of Ramadan so the last 3 weeks has been horrible and talking it out with her has really helped. I really was never one for holidays I think that’s because my birthday is on Christmas Eve and most people forgot about it. Don’t worry some remember so those are the true friends or they are the friends that are dedicated to FB notifications. My family always did a great job celebrating my special day and tried very hard to separate it from Christmas. Yes, there are many two in one presents in case you were asking yourself that. Now that I’m in an Islamic country I believe that at least my husband and mom will remember, as well as a few others. Anyway, Mbarek and I were talking the last few nights about Ramadan and I told him maybe next year I will go on vacation out of the country. He kind of got this sad look on his face so I quickly added, “Maybe next year we will have our house in the country and I will make all kinds of food”. Sometimes I’m so quick to say things and in my case I’ve always been guilty of my mouth running, sometimes not in a good way. Being married to a non American who speaks English as a second language you really have to be aware of what you say. Mbarek doesn’t get some things and you have to explain them but sometimes you can slip things past him, not that remark though. Remember that if you ever marry a man or woman from another non English speaking country. So I ran my mouth and sort of hurt his feelings. I am still learning Islam even though I converted over a year ago so my question to him was, why is Ramadan a celebration? I see it as torture kinda. You can’t eat, you can’t shop during the day because NOTHING is open, you can’t drink, you can’t do a lot of things so to me it’s horrible. If I were back in the US I could at least keep busy doing something. I don’t think that anything would have prepared me for Ramadan in Morocco. This was one thing that was much more different that I ever imagined. I thought there would be lots of food and get togethers. I mean I wasn’t expecting dancing in the street or fire eaters on the square. That would be cool to learn to be a fire eater though, just saying, or even see one on the square. I think that things are a little different for my family though because they don’t socialize much. They kind of keep to themselves and so do I but when I get out I like to be a social butterfly. I suppose it’s like Christmas is as far as the religious meanings but I haven’t seen a celebration yet this Ramadan. Oh well I’ve decided that next year we will have our own house and I will be cookin up a storm. I will fix big meals and I think I will do a Thanksgiving meal at the start of Ramadan and at the end. Maybe it’s destined for me to be the one to host the celebrations and family gatherings. If it wasn’t so hot I’d be cooking things in my room, but firing up a gas cook top in a small room heats it too much when it’s 94 degrees outside and there’s no air conditioner. So after quickly thinking about what I had said about coming home to the US for a month I realized that I’ll just turn it the other way and stay here and make my own traditions. It’s kinda cool that I actually get to do that though start traditions of my own for a whole family. Wow as I’ve been sitting here writing this it’s made me realize how cool that is going to be.
Well I’m here having coffee at 9:45 PM and a steady stream of people have begun to make their way into the square. I will say this, during Ramadan people get out and hit the streets. They even have to close a few streets off because there are so many people out and about. The shops are bustling with people and the coffee houses are full. I have had to be more modest with my clothing during this time. I don’t go with my arms and shoulders showing out of respect and you’d think that people wouldn’t stare at me as much, well they do. The other night we left my coffee shop and headed diagonal across the square, toward the end there was a group of ladies, there must have been 10 of them all sitting on the ground. One of them looked at me then immediately all of them looked at me. I did a twirl, my skirt was long and full so it twirled then I waved and said, “take a good look it’s only things you see in movies”. My husband started laughing and said, “good, stand up for yourself”. It’s funny that only recently he’s noticed how the women look at me. I just get tired of it honestly. Even if I wear my hijab I still get looks, it’s crazy, really crazy. One of these days I’m gonna have to be rude to some people even though I don’t want to be but a person can only take so much. I begin to wonder if I will ever fit in? I don’t think I will honestly which is why I want to get my white ass to the country a few miles out of the city where I can do pretty much as I damn well please, like I’m used to doing.
So my recent adventure during Ramadan was to go to Spain to get my visa renewed. I have to cross into another country every six months in order to remain in Morocco or at least until I get my residence visa. Now this residence visa paperwork is almost as much as it required for us to get married. I don’t believe they make it this hard in the US but we shall see because Mbarek decided after my trip to Spain that he needs a US Passport. So before this next president is elected I will make sure to have filed the paperwork for that because you never know what his chances will be after December especially if Donald Trump is the big man in charge. Hopefully within the next 6 months I will hold dual residences. I was thinking about that today as I watched The Breakfast Club. I was thinking that back in the day just as that movie had made it to HBO I was staying up late just to watch it and now I’m in Morocco watching it. I would have never dreamed that back then as a kid in middle school that I’d ever be watching that movie and living in a country other than the US. It’s amazing where life takes you huh? I still get great enjoyment from watching that movie, however for many many years I know every line so I spend most of my time mouthing everything along with the characters. Mbarek didn’t realize that I did that to a few movies, he finds is fascinating at first then gets irritated because I say their lines in advance. I’m really bad about that when watching Silence Of The Lambs.
Spain was beautiful. I don’t know if any of you remember from history class that Spain has a territory here in Morocco. Also recently because of the Brexit I was reminded that Gibralter is actually an English territory so my next visa renewal, if it’s needed, will be to the little English city across the strait. So Cueta sits on the area where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean. MY GOD WAS IT BEAUTIFUL! I went over there to buy a few things as well but came back empty handed. Now one thing you can’t get here are tampons because it’s an Islamic country and they religion forbids their use. You can’t buy them here but you could in Cueta. So the first place I hit was the Pharmacia and the lady behind the counter told me she wouldn’t sell them to me. I tried twice and was furious. She told me that they were too expensive for me. I insisted I’m American and I can afford them but she, for some reason, wouldn’t sell them to me. The man that I went across with had never been there before and he spoke Arabic and Italian, along with some French. Oh boy this was a nightmare trying to communicate with him. He was really nice but I lost my cell phone service and couldn’t use my English Arabic Translator, nor was I prepared to speak Spanish. I thought that this guy had been to Spain before but as we passed through Spanish customs Mbarek called me and told me that he didn’t know anything about where we were, he had never been there. I wanted to just get in the driver seat but I couldn’t even tell him that. I tried showing him a map of where I wanted to go, because I knew where I wanted to go, but he was clueless. So I wound up in tears along the Mediterranean and decided to just come back across into Morocco. On our long way home Mbarek surprised me that he was taking me to a city that I have wanted to visit. The city is Chefchaouen and it’s in the mountains on the eastern side of Morocco. We travelled along the sea and finally delved into the mountains. Words cannot describe the beauty I saw that day. When someone tells you a place is Exotic they must be talking about Morocco because it’s just … EXOTIC. Chefchaouen is known as The Blue City. It’s a city that sits in the mountains, literally is built on the side of a mountain and many of the buildings are painted blue. The only way I can describe it, if you’ve seen photos of Santorini Greece, it’s just like that minus the sea below. The streets were small and there were tourists everywhere. It was everything I expected and I have to say there are a lot of places that often are not what you expect them to be but this was. I am looking forward to going back there to spend the weekend at least, it’s a wonderful vacation spot. Our ride home from there was over 4 hours on these small European style two lane roads where you had to drive over the yellow line in many places. Crooked curvy roads and Mbarek was sick, his IBS was acting up, it was not fun. We finally got home about midnight after me demanding the boys driving quit sight seeing and get us home. I was up and travelling for 48 hours so I was exhausted and demanded they end the adventure. I hit the bed and decided that next time I would be going across the strait to Gibralter by myself and I will come back home with my tampons god damn it.
So needless to say since I’ve been sitting here there have been three people come and beg the patrons of the coffee shop for money. I have to tell them I don’t have any and I really don’t. Kinda sounds crazy because I’m sitting here with two cups of coffee, two bottles of water and a big cup of mint tea, oh and two packs of Marlboros.. but actually Mbarek normally carries all the money he’s just down the way working. I hardly ever carry money on me anymore, in fact, I never carry anything but my cell phone anymore. It’s strange to even carry a purse, wow right? That’s the one thing they do have here, a nice selection of knock off purses and attire. For a 3rd world country there are no shortages of NY Yankees hats or Chanel clothing. This place is full of surprises. The other day we were out walking around and I saw what I call a “Girl Store” so I had him run in with me to find out how much the Louis Vuitton purse was. I couldn’t believe it just $15. Well if I didn’t have a wardrobe full of them then I would have gotten it. I suppose $15 is a half a weeks work for people here, some of them. I love my purses now, especially vintage ones and this one was nice but I couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on it when I don’t carry them anymore. My life has really really changed since I’ve been here and well I’ve lost 60 lbs in 6 months so my clothes will be changing soon as they won’t fit anymore. I’m assuming that my weight loss will be like a bad hair cut, takes a while to sort it out.
So I see that most dinners and prayer are over and it’s 10:45 PM so there will be many more people out. It’s interesting here, some restaurants close for the entire month. There is one place that I like to get salad it’s called Snack Diafa. The salads are not leafy green salads though, they consist of rice, potatoes, onions, tomato, ketchup, mayo and a chunk of tuna. At first when he brought me a salad home I didn’t know what to say I was expecting something like a nice garden salad and I was disappointed but over time I learned to love it. So when I’m craving salad I can’t even get it. Other places make salad but they have the best. I swear I am gonna make it maybe tonight, why not it’s healthy. So the best part about Ramadan is the getting to stay up all night. The last prayer is at 3:30 AM so you have to eat all you can between 8:00 PM – 3:00AM. It’s funny because I have been fasting more than Mbarek but he’s working during the day too. I’ll just be glad to get back to normal days and nights, we have one more week to go and I’m sure now I’ll make it with no problem. Now I just have to prepare myself for next year.
I suppose if I’m going to have to stay here for Ramadan next year then I am going to insist Mbarek wear a dress for me. There is nothing more that I want than to see him in a Moroccan dress. I’ll make it happen, he may get attacked by me cause he’ll be so damn handsome, lol. Well I am going to sit here now and play on FB so I’ll catch you next time.