Posted on April 13, 2017
Myspoclife in Morocco
I can’t really say much about everyone’s daily life in Morocco. Like many countries, it is diverse in its population. There are people who live in the mountains, in the desert, the country and the city. I am fortunate to have a host who is very warm and welcoming. We are staying very near the capital city and this is a glimpse into the daily life of many city dwellers/ middle class families here in Morocco.
Around 5:30 A.M.-
The first call for prayer resounds throughout the neighborhood. The muezzin, or the person who calls every to pray, is on a loud-speaker in the mosque. He can be heard in many neighborhoods. There are many mosques within blocks of each other, so often there is a chorus of muezzin waking me up in the morning. If I happen to fall back to sleep, then the birds begin their song.
The birds have a fascinating sound. There are many that sound like any other bird outside my window in Chicago. There are others that are very unusual. They are the ones that catch my attention. The really loud bird that goes Whoop-Whoop-Whoop over and over. There was an adult bird that sounded like it was teaching its baby how to make the correct bird call the other day. I would love to have seen them in action. I wonder if they look like Bean and I when I am trying to teach her something. Do birds get impatient with their children?
I finally crawl out of the bed because the bright sunlight is slipping through the window shade. Bean usually sits up in her bed and declares “Time to get up!” Maybe it is time for her to get up, but many days I want to sleep a little longer. I put on my running clothes and take a walk to the Atlantic Ocean for a run.
I have been different all of my life. Every time we travel to a new location, I feel like the new kid in school all over again. Imagine, if you will, going for a run on the beach with your western athletic clothes when 98% of everyone around you is covered from head to toe in traditional Moroccan dress. I figure if they can be out and running, I can too. If fact, I am proud of these Moroccan women (and men). I have not seen so many people out in the morning getting their daily exercise.
One the path that I happen to run, there are at least, and I am not exaggerating, one hundred people families, friends and solo exercisers. There are even a couple of group exercise classes taking place close to the cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean. The women don’t seem to do much running or jogging, but they are out en masse walking in groups of girlfriends, with their significant others and children. These people are serious about physical activity.
Bean and I sit down for a traditional breakfast. We drink our mint tea and eat our bread which we dip into olive oil. It is simple; it is perfect. Through the open window, we can hear the men on the street walking by with their wares for sale. They have a cart and a donkey. They are full of bread, eggs, potatoes, strawberries, bananas or oranges. You don’t need to go to the market; it can come to you.
Everyone is headed to work or school. You can see the city bus going by completely packed with people headed to the city. Often the bus doesn’t even stop because it is so full. The little van comes by to pick up the children for school. Bean has begun to ask if she can take a school bus when she goes back to school. They are so cute, what can I say but “yes”. The neighborhood is a mix of tradition and modernity. There are gentlemen and ladies headed to work in their foreign cars.
Many of the families living in this neighborhood have someone in the family who works for the government. They drive 4x4s, mid-sized cars of all makes and models. There are the families who live in the villas who drive the luxury cars. In the morning, everyone and their car is on the road, headed to work. Horns, traffic and dust everywhere…and no one crosses the street at the corner. People choose a place to cross and they go.
When I first got here, I was petrified as we walked through the neighborhood. We went over bridges, across streets and around the corner. We just followed behind our host. She took off in the middle of the four lane avenue, cars coming from both directions. I asked if maybe we could cross at the light or the corner. She said, “This is Africa. We just cross wherever we want.” While I am hesitant, I have began to relax a little about crossing the street. I still look both ways at least four times before crossing with Bean, who is usually talking and oblivious to the dangers.
There is usually a call to prayer around this time. At first, I seemed to hear every call to prayer. Now, it is just another background noise. Sometimes I notice it, sometimes I don’t. Bean has usually finished her work and I have finished mine. We eat our lunch and get ready to head outside. For most of our stay to date, the weather is nice and getting hotter. I can’t complain, as everyone says “It’s Africa.” We put on our most comfortable shoes and go out to explore the neighborhood.
Depending on how long it takes us to get out of the house, Bean and I may walk for many hours. As soon as we are out, Bean immediately begins to ask for her gouter, or snack. I convince her that if we take time to see what there is to see and do some exploring, we will find a boulangerie and get a gouter. That satisfies her.
The main thing that we see are stray cats. The neighborhood is overrun with them. I am not a cat person,so I really get tired of hearing “There is another cat”. The good thing about them is that if there are cats, there will not be rats. There are men and young boys who go through the trash and take out the recyclable items. I am not sure if they sell them or use them. Trash is sometimes just thrown on the street. However, there are still no rats that I have seen.
On our walks, we have seen the shepherds herding the sheep across the city bridge. They then allow them to graze in the vacant lots that do not yet have a villa. We walk along cliff tops. We do as the locals do and walk over the huge bridge to get to the city center. Bean was thrilled when we found the little park close to the house. I would have been thrilled if there was a place for parents to sit!
To Be continue….