Sunday, March 15, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Disclaimer: I am writing this on a French keyboard, which is just off enough to ensure spelling errors. For this I am sorry.

So the last week has been absolutely insane. I moved in with my host family in a small village you can't even find on a map. The experiences have been incredible, including the wedding at our place that involved women singing and dancing until 2 am (a rare event where women really get to let loose, and something I can not explain as a male because I wasn't very involved). I would love to keep everyone updated on all my going on's, but I only get internet in a town that is about an hour walk from where I live. So, in order to give an example of my everyday life, I will copy down an entry in my journal that I wrote on Thursday.

Today was one of "those days." A day in some regards worth forgetting. A day where at many points I wanted to request a mulligan, or at least a fresh start. Fortunately, a simple moiment changed everything.

I woke this morning in that familiar haze of confusion. "Where am I?" "Morocco, small village, you don't speak the language. Remember?" I studied a bit before preparing to leave my house, then found I had lost my toothbrush and toothpaste. Great, here comes ass-mouth Steve. I hiked to the bus/ taxi stop to meet my co-workers. After some time we caught a taxi toward a larger town get shots and discuss medical things. Taxi rides in Morocco can be frightful events, and this ride proved it (don't worry mom I'm OK). After arriving safely (pheww) we headed to our meeting/ stab fest.

On our way back we decided to stop at a souk (market) to buy some food for the next few days. This is where the day goes from lacking in fun to just plain awful.

Break: On a side note, for those who may read this. I started writing this at about 10 pm. It is now 12:35 am. My host father walked in my room followed by my host mother with hot mint tea (a delicious drink and Moroccan custom). This was followed by an hour and a half language lesson. My host father is an extremely nice man and great teacher, but often forgets Americans can't handle caffeine and need sleep...but I digress.

The day became bad at the souk when after turning down several beggars asking for f'loose (money) we bought a chicken for lunch tomorrow. Buying the chicken meant pointing to a live bird then watching the owner of the market slit its throat and toss it in a bucket. Oh yeah, we're not in the states are we? At least I know the bird was fresh.

So I was a bit in shock, but that was nothing comared to the next event. We heard gunshots (don't worry mom guns are illegal in Morocco except for government use). Our language teacher said something about animal control. We then watched a dog being chased into a parking lot where its life was cut short by shotgun fire. I watched it happen. I was upset. I wanted to go back to our village. F@@@ this day.

We rode back in relative silence, absorbing what we had seen. We vowed no more death today. We felt like foreigners.

The final "kicker" if you will occured when the local government head informed us that the water we drink is no longer treated. Our stomaches simultaneously gurgled. All we could do is laugh. Of course we find this out today.

Then, something changed my mood. I walked to the ta-hanut (shop) my host father runs, muddled through some conversation with the local men, and started feeling better. The men know me now. I'm not just the giant white guy. Then my host brother (a very sharp and adorable 2nd grader) and other young kids piled around my lap to talk to me. We whistled, laughed, and communicated via pictures and sounds. The best part came when I gave them my trusty notebook (mainly used for writing words I don't know, so basically everything I hear) and told them to draw pictures for me. They loved the game and sat and drew, did math, and wrote in Arabic script for an hour. I couldn't stop smiling.

Children have amazing social abilities that adults loose over the years. They didn't care that I couldn't talk much with them. They just wanted to play. I was elated by this simple gesture of kindness. I will keep those pictures forever as a reminder that sometimes all you need is a little time to play and forget about the bad things. Sketches of sheep and people are much more fun. It just took some little kids to teach me this.

I am happy. I am blessed. I love my life.


  1. This may not have been the best of days for you, but this a wonderful journal entry. What an amazing adventure! Your writing is terrific.
    I am anxious to read the next - whenever you are able to share it.

  2. Im glad the kids got you man! HAHA, they get me every time over here. I know the chicken story might not have intended to be funny, but I was cracking up, and Im sure you know I would. Well brutha keep up man, and email me your address! Much love man.

  3. Sounds good you are keeping a sound and open head despite all these things that are at time shocking. I guess you gotta take those things with a grain of salt. It is good to hear you are recording as many of these things in writing as you can. I hope to see those drawings and writings when you come back; Arabic is a beautiful form of calligraphy. Keep it up man!


  4. Steve,
    Thank you for sharing your day. You are never far from my thoughts. Sometimes the simple joy of a child is worth more than all the money in the world. Remember that laughter is the same in any language

  5. Man, Good stuff Steve. It's great to hear you are having such a great experience and keeping your mind open and clear. I know there are many more realizations and eye-opening experiences to be had. Keep up the great attitude man, I am really excited for you!


  6. Steve, I love reading your blog. I know it's a hike to the internet around there but I got to tell ya I appreciate that you make the hour walk and fumble through the french key board to share your adventure. It sounds like you'll really be have a positive impact in that area despite all the cultural adjustments. With love,


  7. Wow man, what a day!! It's amazing to me that children have the smallest bridge between differences. You see them as little people and they see you as a fun loving spirit. You know what, they are right on the mark with you bro!! Your writing is incredible, I think you need to grab one of those dogs and take him on your travels. Maybe start writing in a journal, maybe name the dog Charlie, wait I think some other famous writer already did that... oh well. Great to hear from you, know I'm thinking about you everyday.
    Love, Brian

  8. What a crazy day bud!!! How eye opening can you get?! I'm glad you are doing so well, and taking those chances to reflect about what's going on over there. I'm sure your brain is constantly active. =) I am so glad we are lucky enough to hear from you as much as we have! Can't wait for the next!


  9. wow man. I got the chills reading your post. I love how you express your emotional pendulum (sp?) of the day. Be sure to use the children often when you are learning the language. It is a great way to practice on a functional builds confidence too!
    I miss you man and I really enjoyed this post!


  10. Nine comments already. I have been waiting for a post on your blog. I just saw an Andrew Zimmern episode from Morocco so much of what you said I had seen on that and actually wondered if you were there! Yours is a blog I will follow for sure. Keep up the posting and most of all, be safe. Sue Iverson

  11. Iverson Family Representing.

    It is awesome to read your words and to know that you are out there doing things for the world. If you ever wondered where you'd be when you were a kid did you ever think about things like this post here?

    Probably not, these moments I like to call "You've gotta be shittin' me moments" Where you just look life right in the eye and say, "No way dude, really? Did that really just happen? Wow, nice work life, good curveball there, well done."

    I hope you have many of these and many more of the latter more positive ones.

    I will be following your blog too buddy.

    Will we see you this summer ?