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Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Tighassaline
March 20th 2006
Published: March 21st 2006
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Just out of townJust out of townJust out of town

Only the students following us and the scattered houses reminded me this really is Morocco.
This was the perfect trip to greet the new season. The sun was shining and all the flowers were out, but I didn't spend every minute of the weekend outside. As with other PCV get togethers, we had a movie marathon beginning with “Napoleon Dynamite” (home sweetpotato home!) and going through “Office Space” and “Brokeback Mountain” before finishing with some new Family Guy episodes. The landscape of Brokeback actually made me more homesick than the familiarity of Idaho-filmed Napoleon Dynamite.
The movies are always a fun mini-vacation but the highlight of this trip was the Middle Atlas landscape. Tighassaline is small enough that any walk quickly led out of town and along rocky paths through new spikes of wheat and uncultivated fields of spring flowers. I discovered blue lupine spires, glowing butter cups, several kinds of daisy, some sort of sweetpea, wild rosemary, tall white lilyish flowers with pink veins, tiny crocus-like flowers and several more blooms that didn’t look familiar in the least. It’s fun to see such ordinary flowers interspersed with exciting new plants I have never seen before.
Another high point of town wildlife is the stork nest on the mosque minaret. I saw as many
Storks!Storks!Storks!

I love the storks. I could probably sit on the roof all day watching them. That they nest on mosques seems somehow very appropriate.
as three birds gliding around the tower, though I don’t think I ever saw more than two in the next at any one time. It was the only nest around, so I’m not sure where the third one lived.
I can’t help mentioning the hashuma factor. Though I would think visiting a fellow PCV would be an innocent weekend getaway, it is not always so in Morocco. Marc’s reputation was probably boosted by my visit, though back in Kelaa I used the female version of the word friend when I spoke of going to visit another American. I suppose it’s not that different from the States - the guy’s reputation goes up and the woman’s goes down. The consequences of such shifts seem much greater here though as reputation is much more important.
Waiting for the bus to leave Tighassaline lots of people stopped by to talk to us. Everybody knows Marc and we were out there so long quite a few of his students came over to chat. One was an elderly gentleman who insisted on speaking English though he acquiesced that we speak Arabic so that we could all work on the language we are trying
Not-so-wildlifeNot-so-wildlifeNot-so-wildlife

You just can't talk about animals in Morocco without including the donkies.
to learn. It turned out his first English teacher in ’65 or ’66 (he couldn’t quite remember) had been a Peace Corps volunteer. He remembered the first and last names of the first two or three volunteers that had been in his village in the ‘60s. I have talked to other adults whose first experience with English was through Peace Corps, but I am never any less amazed at how well remembered the volunteers are. I guess two years really is enough time to become a part of the community.
Spring proves not to be too different here from back home, just much earlier. The bus ride went through intermittent rain showers and blinding sun. I looked around for a rainbow, but wasn’t that lucky today. People tend to pull the curtains closed as soon as the sun comes out here so my view of the sky was limited to the window by my seat. But I do appreciate the high view afforded by a bus. Yet another advantage over the grand taxi.

Back home I stopped in to see my landlady before heading up stairs to my pad. Chatting with Fouzia I understood one reason they
LupinesLupinesLupines

Here's my proof that lupines really are found in Morocco. They seem so Idaho to me I could hardly believe it myself.
use the passive so often in Arabic. For example: the homework was lost (when I forgot to do it) or even the sheep left (when it was eaten). Fouzia was talking about things that are ‘haram’ or forbidden in Islam, like drinking alcohol, lying, gossiping and what sounded to me like judging. Her example was if she hung something on the clothes line on the roof and it was gone it is haram for her to blame me, since logically it could have been her husband, one of the kids or even the wind. I like the idea of unfounded blaming and gossiping being up there with drinking and lying. This was part of a long discussion on Islam, but I initiated it this time. I’m working on getting comfortable with talking about religion with people I really like, hoping it will help me with the lectures from near-strangers.
Another fun weekend, and as always, even better than the last!


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25th March 2006

SPRING TIME & MEMORIES
HEATHER, YOUR WRITINGS ARE SO FABULOUS! WHAT A JOY TO FOLLOW YOU THROUGH YOUR TRAVELS AND LIFE EXPERIENCES. I HAVE A REAL FEELING THAT YOUR MEMORIES WILL BLOOM IN THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLES YOU HAVE COME IN CONTACT WITH , LIKE THE SPRING TIME LUPINE. SO, IN THE YEAR 2047 THERE WILL BE MEN/WOMEN/CHILDREN TALKING ABOUT THAT "PCV" HEATHER, FROM IDAHO, USA. :-) AND MAY PEACE BE WITH YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS.

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