This blog is a personal publication and does not reflect the views or opinions of the US Peace Corps or US Government...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Souq Day


Souq Day in the village. Walking to my future apartment from my Host Family’s house, I dodge herds of sheep, leathery men in dark jelabas, all between massive brightly colored trucks loaded with vegetables and stock. Weighing of produce and arguments over tent placement erupt all around me, and I enjoy an unusual anonymity; for once everyone is too busy to stare at me. It is like being back in the city, everyone flowing around you, going about your business. Occasionally someone’s eyes focus on me, some recognize me and we exchange a brief greeting in Tamazight; mostly the men, although some women acknowledge my presence if out of view of their husbands. The women are clad in loose-fitting robes with a blanket-like cape covering their shoulders, the striping on the cape denoting the tribe. On their heads are purple scarves, broadly folded, and bound tightly with pink or white cloth in a uniquely Berber fashion. It looks difficult to tie and makes me once again grateful to be a male in Morocco; oh so many reasons.

The main street of the village is one long hill descending from the Gendarmarie (Police) and l’bosta (Post Office). It is lined with cafés and small stores and ends at a crossroads. My future apartment is just east of here, on the second floor of a brick building owned by my Host Family. It needs a very good cleaning and some basic decorating (make it a little piece of home), but otherwise it is ready to move into. Unfortunately I cannot move in yet; I am required by Peace Corps to stay with my Host Family for another month. That’s alright, they are wonderful people and very helpful when it comes to my language. But I am still ready to regain some semblance of independence and control; three months is long enough, and four is too long.

After a long and complicated trip to Errachidia (again) I sorted out my internet contract and now have a wireless modem installed in my apartment-to-be. So here I sit, catching up on peoples’ lives and reinitiating contact with the life I left behind. This lulls me into a sense of complacency and normalcy, immediately shattered when I walk outside and am once again confronted by the throng of people and livestock, the air full of strange sounds.


Today is so clear that the edges of the mountains against the deep blue of the sky look as though they could cut glass. The only clouds are wispy mare’s tails; the air is still, the souq people have gone back to their villages and the locals are sleeping off their lunches and long morning of haggling. The storks on top of the mosque seem busy, feeding their young; not sure how many chicks there are. Sheep move lazily on the mountainsides, distracted and scattering as their guardians stop to make tea in gleaming silver pots that hang from their belts when not in use. High up on a mountain in recent weeks I discovered the shattered remains of a lone teacup in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere.

But then, that could define this place in general, especially now in the lull after lunch. I am back in my apartment-to-be, picking up where I left off. Looking about and seeing what needs to be done, what needs to be moved, cleaned, purchased, or fixed. There is much to do, but too much time to do it; granted this statement seems to sum up the entire Peace Corps experience. Although, I am sure after two years, I will find that my time here has been too short. But on this side of things, looking down the barrel of 706 remaining days, it seems that time in my greatest obstacle.

The truth of the matter is, that I love the Southwest, the Colorado Plateau, the Four Corners—All of the peaks and spires, domes of white, canyons of red, interspersed with the high, dark intrusions of volcanic laccoliths. The cascading song of a canyon wren on an otherwise silent evening or the sparks popping from a burning juniper limb as the Coyotes wail unseen on the distant mesa. I think that this is irreversibly a part of who I am as a human being; it is my desert, my mountains, my place in this world. It is not that I am homesick, or would even leave Morocco now if given the choice; it is simply that, as I have more time to think and to examine the life I left behind in the Southwest from this great distance. It becomes more and more clear what I want to do with my life and where I want to be. Already, Peace Corps is teaching me things about myself and making me quieter and more focused.

Why am I writing this to you, you may wonder? Why is this simply not another account of my doings in Morocco? Because I want to catalog some of my thoughts and decisions here in my village; share my frustrations and give you, the reader, a clearer picture of my experience here...

In closing I would like to share a couple of technical things the first is the fact that I was informed by one of you that some people are unable to leave comments due to technical problems on the site. I will try to amend that, but in the meantime, feel free to drop me an email: . Also, I now have a flickr page, so go to if you want to have a look at some of the places mentioned here. Also feel free to send requests of things you would like to see or hear about!

Thanks for reading,