Peace Corps Part deux: Moroccan Nights

Mandatory Disclaimer: The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or people, the Mauritanian government or people, or the Peace Corps.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Forgetting melons

I’m in the middle of my training in Morocco and so far it is going well. The training is a little repetitive from last year’s training but I realize that without the training it would be impossible for me to learn Moroccan Arabic. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks learning a different dialect of a language I already speak. Many of the words are the same but also many words are different so for example I can say sentences like, “the most important thing about politics in my country is…” but I couldn’t say “I want to eat bread.” Also most but not all of the numbers are the same so I could say that I want an appointment form “4:48” but not “2:00.”

Morocco is a great place to live. It might just be the honeymoon effect or maybe coming from Mauritania makes living anywhere seem great but so far I am finding that at least my training site of Imouzzer has a lot of the benefits of a developing country: interesting and diverse cultures, unique cuisine, friendliness, openness and great hospitality without many of the problems: extreme poverty, garbage everywhere and lack of reliable public services.

It doesn’t hurt my perception that for the training period I am living with a part time pastry chef. The cuisine in Morocco is delicious. Most of the foods I have eaten so far are eaten out of a communal pot. Everyone has a piece of bread which they use to reach into the pot and dip into the meat or fish that is mixed with vegetables and the always mouth-wateringly appetizing sauce. Dinner is usually followed by melons. My host family quizzes my nightly on the word in Darija ( Moroccan Arabic) for melon and I disappoint them nightly by forgetting the name. Living in this mountainous region with its temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s Fahrenheit has not stopped my from enjoying the ice cream that tastes better than anything I have ever had in the States and costs about 75 cents for three huge scoops.

My Darija teacher speaks excellent English but it is still learning new words. Peace Corps has it’s own unique set of vocabulary that would be foreign to even most native English speakers. One word that is commonly used is “site,” as in “my site (the city where a volunteer lives and works),” or “final site ( the place where a trainee will move after training for his/her actual service).” Peace Corps vocabulary has seeped into my teacher’s regular vocabulary so this gem slipped out during a session on gender roles in Morocco, “After marriage a Moroccan woman will leave her family and move to her final site with her husband’s family.”

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