So it seemed like no big deal. We were just going to Sale to plant some trees with the Boy Scouts. So we dress down for the occasion cause we're gonna get dirty. Real dirty. So things started to get weird when we were driving there caravan style and the police start to wave us through traffic.
It turns out we happened to be following the DCM. (If you, like me, don't speak Washingtonian Acronym.. DCM somehow stands for the person second in command to the US Ambassador.) When we pull in there are lots of Moroccans there to greet us. Lots of well dressed people who don't look anything like they came to plant trees. There's photographers, camera crews and refreshments. Wait, did we just win the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes or are we really here to plant trees? I'm glad I didn't wear my jeans with the hole in the butt...
Official tree planting involves lots of pictures, cutting things, talking and standing around before anything gets done. This is where Washingtonian Acronym meets Moroccan hospitality. This could take a while. So the DCM went off to attend to the official side of things. The Boy Scouts and what I'm thinking may be the Moroccan equivalent of Boy Scouts which I will refer to as the green vests (for obvious reasons) took pictures and well...didn't really know quite what to do with each other. While Americans are a bit stand-offish at first, Moroccans are very friendly people. Sometimes a little too friendly for American kids who adhere to the very western notion of personal space. There is a whole section of the Boy Scout handbook that talks about personal space very specifically. I know because I had to read and sign it. I'm pretty sure the boys earned a patch for "evading the touches of friendly strangers" badge. Or is that a pin?
So the DCM says a few words and so does the mayor of Sale. I wasn't in a vantage point to see any of this, but I'm assuming they cut something, like a ribbon. I just hope that ribbon didn't have any paper in it. Cause well, that would be bad eco-karma to harm trees while other trees are watching. Then the DCM has the honor of planting the first tree. No sooner did she pick up the shovel and like a shot the Americans organized, broke off into groups, distributed tools and sought off to find a tree to plant and dig in. We're American. This is simply what we're programmed to do.
We're short on tools, but the boys scoop the dirt with their hands, which is actually mud because of the rain. Boy Scouts do not need tools. As soon as one tree is planted we are on to the next. We must have been quite the spectacle because lots of townspeople were crowding around. And in our Once-ler-like productivity we didn't notice the absence of the green vests until we Americans were asked to stop planting trees. But the world needs thneeds. I mean trees of course. Apparently in our haste we didn't realize that we were supposed to have refreshments before planting. Which must be where the green vests were detained. Oh. Now I'm feeling like the Ugly American for not knowing the official tree planting protocol. But I have to make it to lunch with our Tunisian family leaving to go back to Tunisia the next day, then I have to make it to the grocery store so I have something to feed the kids at the sleepover we're having later...
So now we halt, or at least significantly slow down our tree planting machine to wait for the green vests. The thing is, the green vests don't have any tools. This may explain why we were invited to the tree planting in the first place. So the green vests arrive and we share our tools and finish planting together. It was a coca cola commercial moment. You know the old ones where people from all nationalities swayed in a circle and sang happy hippie songs about how much better the world would be if every consumer would just drink a coke. And we think how this was really way more of a cultural experience than any of us thought it would be. How we as Americans should slow down and savor the moment the way the rest of the world does. We thought about how much prettier the street would be with the trees. Until..
...we noticed the goats. And realized the goats are eating the trees! Forget the beautiful tree-lined streets. What will really line the streets is the poop of the goats after they have eaten all the leaves of those beautiful trees and defecated them all over town. But at least you know where to find some nice, healthy, well fed goats to feast on come next Eid. And I've heard you can entrap them fairly easily by surrounding them while swaying and singing the coke song.
Recommended reading: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss