Sunday, March 29, 2009

The land of iss

Once again I'm typing on a French keyboard so expect some major typos.

Iss: Tashlheet for eat. Possibly the first verb any new Tashlheet speaker learns and the first word they are haunted by, is the word they hear day in and day out. In Morocco, you iss (pronounced eeesh) a lot. Yesterday was extremely busy, full of the type of learning no book or classroom could provide. I can think of no better word to summarize the day than iss. Let me explain.

The day started a little slow. I slept poorly the night before, and after I reluctantly rolled out of bed, attempted to exit toward school. I say attempted because as soon as I put one foot out of my door, my host father came walking up with breakfast. I had no time for this, but nevertheless was persuaded to sit down, drink some tea, and then fumble through an explaination of my tardiness. "iss" I was told "iss." I finally made the move after inhaling bread and soup, and arguing that in fact my teacher would not hold class just for me.

I began my traverse to class, a long walk over a rocky hill and across town, amidst heavy rain. When I came to the dry creek bed I cross every day, I was suprised to see that this old dry waterway had transformed into a nice little river. I rolled my pants up and attempted to ford the muddy channel. This worked as well as you can imagine, splashing mud all over my clothes. Oh well, on to class.

School was school. I interviewed in Tashlheet and was pleased to discover I'm not as incompetent as I thought. We made lunch, and by "we" I mean the three girls in our group cooked while the other male and I played with matchbox cars. Don't worry, the boys washed dishes. This culture has not rubbed off on me completely. Then it was time to travel to our neighboring town for much needed relaxation, supplies, and internet.

To begin our trip to town, we once again had to cross the river, this time with more success. We soon realized catching a cab would be near impossible. So with the briefly clear weather decided to walk. About halfway through our walk a car passing slammed to a hault and the driver motioned for us to get in. Without hesitation we jumped in and finished our journey by car. Our time in town was great. We checked emails, basketball scores, shopped for candy, and met up with another volunteer who showed us a waterfall. The sun began to set so we decided to travel by foot, which yielded the same result as our trip into town when another car pulled over and offered us a ride.

Now, the iss.

Morocco was playing Gabbon in soccer so some of the boys in town met up to watch the match. This involved tea, cookies, and a large dinner. Morocco unfortunatley lost and we were stuffed, so we made our way over to a wedding.

The wedding was incredible. We came to the house packed with well over one hundred people. The men were upstairs so we crammed ourselves into a room full of makes sitting on the floor and after much talking were served tea. After the tea came food.

Music began to rise from the rooms below and we were instructed to go downstairs and sit and listen to the band. We entered a larged room where women sat on the floor in the back clapping and singing to a phenomenal Moroccan band. The men sat in chairs in front lining a dance floor. Soon we were taken over by the music, clapping and laughing in rhythm. Men and women danced, separately of course, getting lost in the beats.

The music blew me away. Heavy, fast drumming behind swift violin and even wilder singing. The women danced wildly, almost uncontrollably, swinging their hair and shaking their hips. The whole room radiated powerful energy. The band took notice of the Americans pointing at me and inviting me to dance. This time I was able to dodge the embarassment, but would not be so lucky in the near future. The insanity was briefly put on pause when some of the men grabbed us to go upstairs, and you guessed it, iss. We force-fed ourselves with chicken and lamb until we could barely move, then returned to the music. After another hour of music we were served tea and sweets. The clock struck 2 am. After more music, more tea, and slipping into the madness that accompanies extreme tiredness, the party decided it was time to showcase the foreigners. We (well me and another American male) were brought in front of everyone and told to dance to the drums. We reluctantly obliged, grabbing other Americans in the process. The crowd cheered and clapped, and for the first time since arriving here I felt like part of the community. Our time in the spotlight was over, but the music continued until near 4 am. I walk home half asleep, exhausted, belly full, heqrt full, and smiling ear to ear.


  1. Steve,
    Music is the international language. Now you are living that! How lucky you are! I would love to hear it with you. I can see you with a smile on your face
    Love Mom

  2. what I wouldn't pay to see you dance awkwardly in front of a room full of strangers. Must have been a great expereince. Keep up the posts! I miss my friend.

  3. AWESOME!! How fun does that sound? I bet the food is amazing. Not to mention the music, I'm sure, is totally worth grooving to. I'm so pumped things are going well for you, bud. It was great to talk with you last weekend. Hopefully, we can again soon! Brian just left for California today, so that's exciting! Love reading your blogs! Miss you!


  4. Steve dancing...what a delight for any onlooker worldwide.

  5. Steve dancing...what a delight for any onlooker worldwide.