Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sherry's Cherries

We headed east for a few days of mountain air with one of our favorite families, the Greens. In winter it snows in Ifrane and you can sled or ski it's hills. In summer you can frollick in it's cold mountain streams. But what you really go to Ifrane for is it's European feel and it's clean streets. Cars stop for pedestrians here. You could almost forget you're still in Africa except that everyone still stares at your obvious foreigness and buying anything will still require you to bargain for it. Luckily we didn't come to shop.

We came to hike.

And to check out the really, really old cedar trees.

Feed the really, really hungry monkeys. (Some of which weren't even ours...)

We started a war by sea. (Ok, it was more like a battle by lake...)

We cooled off in mountain streams.

Now you know there must be more to the story right? Of course there is.

There's a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) named Sherry in a town called Immouzer Marmoucha which is just a two hour drive from Ifrane, but a world apart.

We've made the drive in our two minivan minicaravan and are now standing on the main street of town. It's market day, so it's bustling because everyone is out and about. Sherry will meet us here. But how will we find each other? Well, it's amazingly easy to spot 4 extremely glowingly white adults when they have 7 extremely glowingly white children in tow, speaking English and looking completely lost. She couldn't NOT find us. Sherry brings along Ben, another PCV who lives just outside of town. She's excited to have visitors and she takes us to the souk to get some locally grown cherries.

And this is what it's like to walk through the souk. Lucky for you, on video no one pushes you, glares at you and your barely covered flip flopped foot doesn't step in sheep shit. I have captured the clean, sanitized and not-anything-like-the-true-Moroccan souk (because that WOULD be scratch, sniff and bump), souk walk via my discreet undercover cam.

We walk to the outskirts of town and hike down to a beautiful waterfall while snacking on Sherry's cherries.

Then it's time for lunch. We could have anything we want. You know goat kebabs or this local bean soup served with an egg on top. Or chicken. I would have gone goat myself. On second thought I'm glad I didn't. (You'll see.) We decided on chicken and headed to the local place Sherry knows.

They clear out the back just for us. Ben orders food for the table. One does not order individual portions. No, this is a family style place. So you share the chicken. And there are no plates or utensils. River watches as the server (although I think the term food slinger is more appropriate here) drops the bread on the floor, picks it up and throws it back in the serving basket co-mingled with all the other fresh bread. I didn't know that an 11 year old boy would be grossed out by that. I mean I'm thinking of all the other things that don't seem to gross him out. This is when he decides not to eat.

I thought lunch was fun myself. And we're getting an appreciation of what it's like to be a PCV while simultaneously boosting our immune systems. All of us except for River. He'll probably be the first one to get sick. And he was. (Although that was unrelated incident of car sickness that occurred in our friends car. Thank god. I mean thank god they're still our friends...)

On the way out we were happy we decided not to eat the goat. It looked like it had been hangin' out there for awhile.

We went back to see Sherry's house. And by this time we all needed to pee. I don't know if you all know what a squat potty is. It's a hole in the floor that you need to squat over and get yer bizness in. Sherry's squat potty is also her shower. Is that multitasking or what? Why oh why did I not take a picture of it? Oh right, because I was thinking what a poor footwear choice flip flops is when you're standing on a leaky squat potty trying not to piss yourself. I'll get it next time. You know when we stay the night and I remember to wear proper footwear.

Who says life isn't a bowl of cherries? Not Sherry. She's freakin' awesome!

This is list of just a few of the reasons why my kids have chosen not to join the Peace Corps when they grow up:

No macaroni and cheese.
No wii.
No tv.
No air conditioning/heat.
Eating food that has fallen on the floor with your hands.
Peeing on yourself.
The goat.
Not getting paid for any of this...


Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA said...

Oh,my, bringing back memories of travel in that part of the world. (Hong Kong in the 70s and 80s was NOT different.) Washing dishes in the street with dirty water demonstrated all I needed to know- I was not going to partake of those delicacies, either.)

hocam said...

The sounds of the souk are so similiar to the sounds of the Turkish "pazar" Can't wait to go back and buy some cherries,my favourite summer fruit. I will never give out about squat potties after a trip up Mt Nemrut. I had cramps in the bus all the way up a very bare mountain. I could cope with the idea of being sick on the side of the road beside the bus but my cramps were a lot more ominous. On arrival, the one "european" toilet had the door off its hinges and the loo was rocking. The "hole in the ground" was a most welcome sight.

The Loerzels said...

Had the worst case of food poisoning in Russia that I have ever had while adopting our youngest daughter and remember praying for a squat potty....a hole....ANYTHING so I didn't shit myself! I mean it's one thing if your child shits themself....but it's quite another when you're over 30...

David said...

Nice candid pics and interesting story!! Enjoyed hearing about your travels in a part of the world I've probably never see, I;m not big fan of community food sharing:( Keep on trekking and thanks for sharing!!

P.S. No Peace Corp for me after reading your post :)

my3littlebirds said...

What an adventure. All of it!


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