I hope it’s okay to call you that. I know it’s only been 2 months, but I feel like we’ve shared enough to be on a more personal basis.
May I just start by saying how much you confuse and amaze me? I’m pretty adept at picking up on cultures and things, and well, every time I think I’ve got you nailed down you laugh a little and surprise me. Good for you!
One thing has really struck me about you, though. I used to think that islanders owned the title for most laid back people, but I gotta hand it to you, Maroc: Your people kick ass at it. Case in point when our bus tried to break down. We got out for the scheduled 25-minute bus stop, even though that was supposed to happen back in Tiznit. I was curious, though, when 40 minutes later we were still there. I was on a schedule you know. I had someone waiting for me at the house who I needed to relieve, so after an hour I was getting. . . shall we say slightly perturbed.
But were your countrymen? Oh no. They sat there drinking tea and chatting as if this had all been planned. Finally after 1-1/2 hours I found the driver and asked when we were leaving. Then and only then was it announced that the bus had broken down and we were waiting for a part.
What? Why didn’t you tell the whole bus? And more over, why didn’t some of these other people ask before me? Because they aren’t slightly more tightly wound Westerners I’m guessing. “We’ll just sit here drinking tea until they tell us it’s time to go. Whenver that is.” I’m getting there. You’re teaching me.
I already had a pretty open mind, but you’ve opened it further. We humans tend to see things as they appear rather than as they are. I’m so grateful for the people who have been willing to open up and share with me so I can see things from a different angle.
I love hearing the multi-phrase greetings that seem to take 5 minutes between people. When someone gets into a taxi, they don’t just greet one person they know, they greet the entire taxi. And everyone joins in the string of words that is meant to check in with people as well as give glory to Allah. You and I aren’t on the same wavelength on that last bit, but I still don’t hesitate to say hamdullah or insh’allah at the appropriate times.
You have absolutely no sense of personal space between the same genders. This is. . . interesting for us Westerners because, you see, we believe we are all surrounded by an invisible bubble. Even though you can’t see it, you still avoid crossing the unseen boundaries. If I sit near someone on a bus, I should bring my leg in a bit if we accidentally touch. Not in Morocco, though! Oh, no sir. There’s always more room to add someone else, no? Even if part of my ample posterior is almost on top of my neighbor’s leg.
And when I get Tigger to move onto my lap to create more space for someone, your people are quite clear that there is plenty of room for us all to be squished together. Oh no, don’t inconvenience yourself by putting the kid on your lap, monsieur! And why make him stand just so a woman can sit in the only remaining seat? He’s a child, therefore it doesn’t matter that he’s male. He can just sit right down on her lap. No problem, papa, don’t you mind. We’re all good friends here.
When two people chat, even if they’re strangers, they have to be touching so that the other person knows they’re being heard and are important. At least that’s what I get out of it. I find it reassuring even though it still surprises me when someone I don’t know puts their hand on my shoulder or arm while speaking to me.
You are so kind to ignore my rather crap French, too. When it takes a few minutes, several rounds of circumlocution, pantomiming, sign language, etc., to get something across, and the light finally turns on for me you join me in a hearty laugh about it.
You aren’t pressured for me to hurry up and get out of the damn line so the next person can be served. In fact, a couple of times someone has left the line to go retrieve someone they knew spoke a few more words in English or Spanish so that by combining all 4 spoken languages we finally get to where we need to go. You guys never lose patience with me.
Moroccans are so kind to my child. Even the poulterer with whom I rarely share more than the customary greeting and a request for juj kilo, asks about my cute little tag-along when he isn’t by my side. He has, to me, one of the most awful jobs in the world, yet every time I see him, his brown vinyl apron covered with feathers and. . . accoutrements from his activities, he has a huge grin for me.
Your country and your people are so alive.
Maroc, you humble me. You truly do. And, I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but, well, I’m in love with you.