Friday, August 27, 2010

All of Midelt is Chuckling Right Now

The biggest news in our new Province of Midelt is that the president of the province (more or less the equivalent of a state governor) got caught on webcam demanding and accepting bribe money. Here's a link to the video, though if you don't understand Arabic, it's probably not that interesting to watch.

The president is the one who spends the whole time shining his shoes, the other guy is his vice president, and the old man on the left is a guy who runs a little carnival. The carnival guy I guess wanted to keep the carnival up and running in Midelt, but every time they get to the agreed-upon closing date, the president makes the guy give him bribes to keep it open a little longer. The video goes more or less like,

Old man "So how much do you want from me this time? I've already given you a million and a half" (about $1200). I'll give you another million."
President "A million? That's nothing, two! Two million or we don't even have a conversation"
Old man "A million is all I have right now. I'll give you each half a million, and give me til the afternoon to go round up the rest." (hands over the money, bill by bill)
President "This stays between us, if I find out you've told anyone. . . "
Old man "Of course! Who would I tell?"

So now we'll see what happens. Once this video got uploaded to YouTube, the president immediately released a response video, denouncing the video as a fraud, that the old man spliced and diced voices that weren't the president at all, trying to frame him, that he's just a humble former Islamic studies professor who's trying to work to make Midelt a better place for everyone. Last I heard he's waiting to be tried in the big court in Meknes, the nation (or at least me), crossing its fingers hoping a big example will be made of this guy, finally starting a serious and long-overdue war against corruption in Morocco.

Ramadan Reflections, Part II

Surprisingly, the hardest part of the day isn't late afternoon when it's hot and the fast is coming to an end. In my opinion, the worst part of the day is waking up, knowing that you have X number of hours before you can eat or drink. As those hours pass, it gets easier, as I find things to fill that time, and once there's only an hour or two left, I go running, and then sunset comes. The other worst part of the day is right before the sunrise call to prayer, when I'm not hungry or thirsty but feel the need to eat and drink, knowing it'll be fifteen hours before I can eat again. (And knowing that the more water I drink at 4am, the more times I'll have to get up to pee in the middle of the night).

It does feel wrong to be unhappy going to bed every day and then wake up unhappy every morning.

Ramadan Reflections, Second Time Around

For the whole first week of Ramadan this year, I seriously regretted my decision to fast again this year. I had great memories of last year, playing cards all night and getting invited over to break fast at different houses all the time, and feeling this big sense of accomplishment at the end of the month. I think I'd conveniently suppressed the memories of hunger and thirst and days that seem to drag on for weeks. This year just seemed harder and less rewarding. But then I got back to the village after a week of fasting while traveling, and things got easy again. Almost too easy. I could once again sleep until noon and hang out in my nice and cool mud house in my comfortable bed all day. I think I'll survive the month after all.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Naked Chicks

The new biggest joke in the family is how my baby chicks are growing up American, just like their "mother". Proof:
The chicks I brought hang out in a group by themselves and don't seem to like hanging out with the village-born chicks
My chicks refuse to eat bread, eating only expensive chicken food
(And the best one, in my opinion), as soon as it started to get hot out, they pulled out all their feathers and ran around almost naked for a month (I'm pretty sure I could hear the other chicks muttering "hashuma!" (shame on them) under their breaths the whole time)