Friday, June 19, 2009

Inauguration Day Dance Party!

Yesterday was the day that the newly-elected presidents of all the communes took office. Our commune has had the same president for the last 12 years, and he was re-elected again this year for a third 6-year term. I don’t particularly like the guy, and I’m not sure anyone is especially impressed with his work for our commune (still no paved road, running water, or working street lights), but the whole village came out for the dance party in the street that went on (with a few breaks for tea and meals and an afternoon nap) from 8am yesterday to about 4am this morning. It was hilariously fun, especially since I’m getting pretty good at the Moroccan butt-shaking dancing thing. I hear the real party though, is Saturday night, when we’ll get to do it all over again. The first three big parties I went to in Morocco, during training and then right at the beginning of my time in the village, were horribly boring and I’ve been dreading wedding season ever since. But then I went to a wedding last week which was one of the most fun days of my time in Morocco yet – we paraded a sheep around the streets, stopping traffic, with the men blowing these super long skinny horns and carrying wedding gifts on their heads. And then we danced and ate amazing food all night. And now I can’t wait for the next one, or really just any and all random excuses to dance in the streets.

The other thing that made last night so surreal was that we had a big rainstorm (which I got caught in the middle of coming back from a run), followed by the craziest flash flood I’ve ever seen – the road through the village turned into a raging river that continued all night, hours after the rain stopped. Reminded me of the random floods Houston would get, when we’ll all go play in the flooded fields and streets. Except in Houston, when the water recedes you still have roads and sidewalks and life goes back to normal. Our village road got completely washed out, pretty much rendering it impassible to anything but tractors. Even my really good mountain bike couldn’t get past some parts of the road this morning, which has turned into a sea of boulders and gravelly sand. As if getting in and out of the village wasn't already enough of a hassle, it'll be even more of a pain until the commune decides to send people to fix it. And with the busy week of sheep-roasting and dancing that the president has planned, I’m not sure when that’ll get done. But in the meantime, I'm planning to put on my new party jalaba and dance.

New Time or Old Time?

Every westerner with a blog in Morocco has I’m sure posted exactly this same entry sometime in the last two weeks. The last two years, Morocco has started doing a summer time-change for the same reason most other countries do it: to save a lot of money in electricity bills. The difference in Morocco is that this time change seems to be optional. Probably close to 50% of people I interact with have changed their clocks, while the other half are still operating on “old time”. This of course doesn’t make sense at all to me, as it seems a lot easier to take the ten seconds and move the hand on the clock, than to spend all summer having to clarify whether a quoted time is in “old time” or “new time.” I hear there are entire towns that have just decided not to switch to new time, including the whole old medina in Fes and other big cities. The first couple of days it was funny to have to clarify new time or old time, but now, two weeks after the time change, it’s just annoying and I’m almost looking forward to Ramadan (when the time will change back) just so the country can all be on the same time again. My neighbors, for example, are on old time while I’ve switched to new time. They don’t work in an office or take scheduled public transportation or have meetings, so they just don’t see the need to change their clock. I wonder whether America had this problem when we first started changing the clocks, whenever that was. And how many years it'll take for Morocco to accept and acknowledge the concept of daylight savings. I'm not holding my breath.

On Canadian Radio. . .

So my handoff of couscous in the London airport made news in Canada! Here's the link to the radio show that features an interview with Kate, the woman I sold couscous to in London at the end of April.

The part about our couscous starts a little before halfway through the show if you want to skip over the other random (and less interesting, I'm sure) stories.