Monday, May 18, 2009

El Karma Couscous, the Famous International Brand

True to my suitcase-of-couscous traveling style, I packed about four times as much couscous as clothes and toiletries for my trip back to the states. I had arranged a hand-off in the London airport to a woman who runs a (rather shady looking) business importing hand-made food products from around the world and selling them on her website. I’d barely cleared customs and was terrified I’d get arrested for smuggling couscous into the UK. But the police didn’t even blink when Kate asked whether I’d brought “the goods” and we proceeded to make an extremely obvious handoff right under his nose of a poorly-packaged box that was spilling small brownish-crumbs all over the floor.

So I can check “export couscous” off my list of things to accomplish during my two years here. That made lugging a heavy suitcase across Morocco and onto a different continent, and all the paranoia, all worth it.

Check out Kate’s side of the story on her website:

Another case of an abrupt change of plans, mid-stride:

This afternoon I was on my way to my tutor’s house after lunch for our normal Thursday afternoon tutoring session, walking along, making a mental list of topics to cover with her. Up pulls a truck with one of my (many) “uncles”, offering me a ride for the 200 yards or so to my tutor’s house. Those 200 meters were enough to convince me not to go to Hanane’s house, but instead go with them on some mission to this place where they dig paint up out of the ground, grind it and sell it. They assured me it would be a short and super fun field trip that would only take an hour and I could just go to tutoring late.

Five hours later, I’d:

Climbed this mountain (and then slid all the way down it while all the men watched.)

Colored on myself with this freshly-dug up paint.

Traipsed over a plateau to find and hang out in this nomad camp.

Where we ate this guy’s (“the cheese man”) freshly-made cheese. I wasn’t a huge fan of it – a little too goopy for me. .

Gained a whole lot of respect for this river-fording, mountain-climbing, sheep-swerving, bush-whacking car.

And discovered that views like these exist only a short harrowing hour drive away from my village:

Dance, Monkey!

My host mother and the other women in the village never get tired of watching me try to dance Moroccan style. I try not to be offended when they’re like, “Dance!” and then I get up and dance for them, while they all fall out of their chairs laughing at me. This happens almost every time my host mother has guests over. I tell myself I'm the comedian and not the laughing stock of the village.

Mmmm... hedgehog

The other night I was on my way to my house, looking forward to a quiet evening with a book or maybe a movie, when I was intercepted by one of the neighbor boys, excitedly trying to show me something he was carrying in the pitch blackness. Turned out to be a hedgehog, which I think I’ve decided might be the cutest animal in this country. I’d never seen a hedgehog run – their tiny little feet are so comical and cartoon-looking.
Look at how freaking cute he is:

And it turns out the hedgehog is known as the smartest animal here. I got to hear all the hedgehog tales, of hedgehogs killing lions, and how hedgehogs have one and a half brains. But I guess this one wasn’t smart enough to outwit my neighbors - we ate him for lunch yesterday!