Sunday, August 26, 2012

They've Got Our Backs

It's so hot! It's late. I am tired, sweaty, and stuffed full of food. We just got home from a very large meal – a breaking of the fast during Ramadan – and as I try to change into something cooler our neighbors (we call them Host Family #3) begin banging on our door calling my name - “Kate!” Kate!” Their doorbell works and ours doesn't (thankfully), so when someone comes calling there is lots of knocking and yelling. “Bletti!” I shout – which means “wait” - and I quickly throw on a big mumu to cover up some skin. This only makes me sweat more. I enter the hall and there is my friend, Khadija, downstairs standing in our doorway with her little niece and nephew. We had just left their house where we had feasted with their family and have literally been home for less than 5 minutes. Did they follow us? Apparently they found a key. Is it ours? Did we drop it? Can we get into our apartment? They want to know – to be sure that we are safely home and not missing a key. “No, it's not ours, and yes, we got in fine. No, we don't know whose it is...thanks and bye!”

Wow, I think. They found a key and got dressed up to come out to see if it was ours. That is nice, and then I think about it a little more. You see, in America I don't think someone would do that in the same way. Maybe if one found a key they would call us on the phone. Maybe not immediately, because it is 11:30pm, but maybe in the morning. Would an American leave their home to chase after us to be certain we didn't lose a key that we might need to unlock our front door? Things are different here in Morocco – Moroccans are different. They will go out of their way at any time of the day to help you, to make sure you are safe, comfortable, happy. Moroccans make wonderful friends.

Our first and favorite Moroccan friend - Mr. El Ghali G.

Dedicated, loving, helpful, caring...when you've got a Moroccan for a friend this is what you get. Once you are “in” you are “in for life”. They love you like family and will always be on your side and watching your back.

The moment I began to understand the extent of a Moroccan friendship was when our town ran out of water for 24 hours. A pipe had been broken somewhere upstream, and as the hours passed people began to realize that water would have to come from somewhere else. The school near us had a reserve tank of water that it was sharing from, and the town provided the citizens with a giant water truck. As soon as this was known, our Moroccan friends knew to tell us. In the span of 5 minutes we got 2 phone calls and a knock on the door. They all wanted to inform us where the water was, and not only that they all offered to help us carry our buckets to and from our home. There was not a chance that we were going to go thirsty.

Moroccans friends and family are really good at making you feel loved. They deeply care for you and want to you know it – especially when you have to spend time apart.

When Arie and I went to spend one night in Fes – our first night away from our first host family in Azrou – we thought it would be a good idea to give them the phone number of the hotel we would be staying at – in case of an emergency. At 10am on Sunday morning there was a knock on our door – there was a phone call for us at the front desk. It was our host family. They wanted to say hi, tell us that they missed us, and also would be we be home in time for kaskrut (evening tea time)? We were surprised, a little confused, and very humored – we were only gone for 1 night, and why didn't they just call our cell phone? Needless to say we felt very loved, and we began to feel a strong love for our sweet Moroccan host family who missed us already.

Our host siblings in Akka - they missed us so much during Ramadan!

The first thing our Akka Host Family did when they returned home after being away for the whole month of Ramadan was call us – they wanted to see us. Immediately. Daba (now). While most of the time Moroccans are laid back and easy going, when they want something now, they mean NOW. In a indirect battle of culture control I made them wait 3 hours until I was done doing my thing and ready go. We went to their home and sat and talked for a short time. You see, they had missed us, and I think we missed them a little too...or maybe a lot...

We love our Moroccan friends and family – they are always there for us and are ready to go out of their way to help us and make sure that we are happy and comfortable. It is their love and support that keeps us here, working hard. It is their love and support that reminds us that Morocco is our home now too.