Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Things Aren't What They Appear
Every culture has them. Weird paradoxical societal things that just don't make sense. The thing is, the closer you are to them, the harder they are to see. But when you're a foreigner in a foreign land? Well, it makes them really easy to spot. So while I know America has a million and one of it's own, today I'm running down the short list of Moroccanisms.
GREEN MEANS GO & RED MEANS STOP
The concept is universal. When you're driving green means go and red means stop. Everywhere except for Morocco where you can drive any way you want. Stop signs are optional. And the green arrow on the traffic light? Do NOT assume that oncoming has a red light. Because that is dangerously incorrect. Oncoming traffic also has a green light to go. So really any traffic light of any color or stop sign means make no assumptions and proceed with caution. In fact you might want to rethink driving altogether. Are you sure you actually need to drive to get where you're going? You might want to change your plans and just stay in. It's just safer.
The garbage truck comes every night in our neighborhood. And by night I mean very early morning around 2am. Yes, we have garbage service everyday. How environmentally conscious and efficient is that? The thing is, while I'm putting my garbage can out to be picked up, making sure not to put it out too early because that would be unsightly, garbage lines the streets. And I don't mean in garbage cans. I have seen grown men walk down the street and simply drop wrappers and other garbage on the sidewalk. So while I'm pondering why I never see anyone else's garbage can it's because no one actually needs a can to collect it here. That's right, every day is garbage day in Morocco!
Morocco has a lot of small farms that supply a lot of the produce in the country. This is how America used to be before huge farm conglomerates. Pure, natural, wholesome and organic right? Not quite. While Morocco uses less pesticides than the states, the pesticides they use are more dangerous. Where do you think that those pesticides that get banned in the states go? Yup, they get sold to other countries with less stringent pesticide standards. And there is no governing board here to certify that any produce is in fact organic. For more info on Morocco and pesticides click here.
Modest dress is part of the Muslim culture here. So what does one do when they want to swim at the beach? About half the women at the beach go in the water with their head scarves and djellabas on. Yup, just like they're going to the store or anywhere else. The other half? They wear bathing suits just like in the states. In a country that likes to cover up you think that they would sell conservative bathing suits. Nope. No, they don't have thongs and there is no topless or nude sunbathing here. But what they don't have? It's that extra lining in a woman's swim suit in the chest and crotch areas like American women's suits have. The purpose of this lining is of course is to prevent protruding nipple-age and insuring a little mystery in your choice of nether region grooming shall we say. So going to the beach here involves showing nothing or unintentionally showing everything.
Moroccan men are very affectionate. They are very affectionate with each other. In public. But not in a gay way, because that my friends is illegal here. No, this is the bromance variety affection. In theory, this is a beautiful concept of men celebrating their platonic love for each other by displaying their feelings for each other publicly. You can see evidence of Moroccan man love any day of the week here by simply walking down any given street here. But when you've grown up in a culture where only couples hold hands, embrace, rub the backs of their partners neck and snuggle on the back of a moped together, it's just extremely bizarre to witness a non-couple doing it. What's even more weird is that I can count on one hand how many times I've seen a Moroccan man giving a woman pda in public. Seriously, how weird is that?
Oh my god, is George Michael waving at me from the back of a public bus? No, that would be a Moroccan guy flipping me off. I'm pretty sure that Morocco would not let George Michael on a public bus here after that public restroom incident a while back. Unless he just wanted to snuggle of course...