Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Arrivals & Departures

Last week we welcomed a new family who moved to Rabat from the states. It's a shock when you move here. Life is totally different. It's slower and more methodical. Tedious even compared with the states. A lot of the way things work here just don't make sense to the Western brain. And now I'm remembering just what an adjustment it was for us to adapt to life here through the eyes of this new family. Because you see, the weirdest thing about our live in Morocco is just how normal the weird moroccanisms have become after a year and a half here. And that my friends is weird!

"Does driving scare you here?" the mother of the new family asked. "No. I f&*(^%$g LOVE it!" Ok, I didn't actually say the f-word out loud, but I totally said it in my head. You see, once you get used to driving without rules at high speeds it's totally liberating. Dangerous, but liberating. The cross cultural experience was just beginning when I walked our new family across the street to the playground. This may not sound like a big deal to you unless you've tried to cross a Moroccan street with 6 kids who have only been exposed to the naive American pedestrian-centric kinda crossing the street. Fear the traffic kids, cars WILL NOT stop for you here. So play frogger well or it will be GAME OVER for you. And it didn't end there, once we got to the playground some of the kids ventured off the sand area onto the grass. Then the playground guard blew his whistle because you can't walk and/or sit on the grass at the park. Can you say counter intuitive? Then of course having just arrived at the park one of the 8 kids we have in tow has to go to the bathroom. No problem, he can pee on the grass. Mr. Grass Police confirms this with his hand gesture that clearly says "yes, go ahead and piss here, pick a spot, any spot". With a cautionary look of "just don't walk on the grass to get to that spot". Luckily our pee-er was a boy so this was possible. Welcome to Morocco!

And that is just the tip of the cultural iceberg. Here are some other weird Moroccan things that help round out our new normal:

Driving aggressive and fast and NOT stopping for pedestrians because driving any other way you would never arrive at your destination or you would actually CAUSE an accident.

Bringing wads of cash everywhere because your credit card isn't going to work, EVER.

Hoarding coins for the 3+ people (parking attendant, gas attendant, bathroom attendant, etc.) that you will need to tip everyday.

Seeing a man's junk in public when he pees unapologetically anywhere he wants to with no humility.

Conversely, I am careful not to bare my shoulders (knees, cleavage and anything else "erotic") in public, never mind any junk. Because doing so would induce cat calls, kissy noises, rude comments and staring.

Being stared at anyway, even if I'm dressed conservatively because I'm shrouded in an exotic white foreignness. And there is 3-second rule here that would make longer eye contact inappropriate or rude.

Deciding I in fact can live without whatever I was shopping for because: 1. The store doesn't have it. 2. I don't have enough cash on me to buy it(and my credit card won't work, remember). 3. I can't be bothered going through the bargaining process to get it.

Not saying "bless you" because I'd have to explain why I would say that when someone sneezes and I'm honestly not sure.

Oh there is more. Lots more, trust me. But I don't want to bore you with what could be my Moroccanisms 101 dissertation.

So I've covered arrivals. What's the departures part of the post you ask? Well, when we moved here we didn't plan on going back to the states at all. But as you know, plans are made to be broken or broken things don't make plans or something really profound like that. So what could possibly change our plans? A wedding. My husband's brother is getting married in Florida in July. And we are so excited to see our family and friends in less than a week now!

But I have a confession to make...

I'm kinda scared. And I'm not usually scared about such things. I'm not scared about the friends and family part. That's a lie, I am a bit scared about that because I have been the worst stay-in-toucher ever and I fear the backlash of that. But maybe they'll be kind enough to recap us on the memorial service they had for us because they assumed we were dead.

No. I'm worried that:

I'm going to commit a major traffic violation, get a speeding ticket (or 5) and what makes me most nervous about driving in the states, running a pedestrian over.

I will spend hours in the grocery store fondling, smelling, marvelling and being completely overwhelmed trying to decide what to buy.

Which leads me my worry of eating my way through America. At least there's lots of conveniently located big and tall shops to choose from when I need to size up.

That I'm going to be overwhelmed with consumerism and that I won't be able to bring all my purchases back on the plane with me. Oh who am I kidding? I'll be in America and I can buy a suitcase (or a crate) to fit it all in. Duh!

I will be shunned by other Americans because I have grown accustomed to not wearing deodorant in the last year and a half. I'm especially worried about this because I'm packing lots of tank tops.

That I won't be writing for like month and I might self-combust with all my ideas of things I can't wait to write about when I return.

And finally, my biggest fear (although running over a pedestrian is a close second) is how hard it is going to be for all of us (especially the kids) to get on the plane to come back home to Morocco.

And they don't even know that we still have one more surprise in store for them...


SherilinR said...

wow, this post kinda makes me want to come visit you! i'm sure you've covered this earlier, but since i'm new here, i'll ask - why are you in morroco? and are you planning to stay for a very long time?

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

Another great post!
May your flight be uneventful and your stay most eventful!
We'll miss hearing from you!!! A Lot. (And, you will learn that Florida is NOT America...)

The Loerzels said...

@ Sherilin-my husband is working for the Peace Corps. We will move back home to Colorado next summer.
@ Roy-Thank you! I'm hoping I'm going to be so busy that I don't miss writing as much as I think I will. And we used to live in Florida many years ago, but recent enough that I remember I should brush up on my Spanish. So, adios mi amigos....

A Brilliant Life said...

Your Freakin Cliff Hangers are KILLING ME!!!! What is the other surprise????

Ok now that is out of the way - I am totally scared of going consumer ballistic and spontaneously combusintg in Trader Joe's for example! And yes - diddo on the driving fear!

Also...maybe you guys will be happy to come back? Maybe? Like maybe the kids will realize they like it a little and they have a nice life here and that they are looking forward to finishing out their time...maybe.

The first year i went I was terrified to not want to come back and I went with a good friend who was generally very down on Morocco (down just as in - would have much rather been in America) but she kept telling me that I would be ready to go back after a couple of weeks. I will say this - I was not ready to go back after a couple of weeks, but when the time did come for me to go back, I was not desperate to stay. Like I was "kinda" looking forward to it. And that surprised me. it was like a battery recharge - in a good way and then after that I got happier here - not sure if the two are related but could be...

The Loerzels said...

I hope so on the kids. I definitely feel like I've not completed things here, so I think it'll be more of a battery recharge for me. I'm also getting a taste for the conflict I'm going to have next summer when I return. I had no idea how connected I've become and I'm a total travel/adventure addict. But for the kids, I'm really hoping they won't revolt and refuse to get on the plane and come home. After all, we're going to be on vacation and it's going to be all fun 24/7. I'm really worried...

Denise said...

Just so you won't feel bad I thought I would let you know that on our R&R I bought a suitcase and shipped four boxes of stuff back here!

Sandra said...

haha...ok, not funny, but kind of funny, I'm laughing at your fear of running over a pedestrian! I liked hearing of these customs. As for all the ideas in your head, carry a notebook with you, we'll be wanting to hear everything you were thinking!

Christina Lucas said...

That's so crazy! Sounds a lot like Mexico!

A Brilliant Life said...

Maybe you can tell the family over there to treat the kids like it is so so cool that they live in Africa. Like maybe if enough people are "totally into it" and they get to be all special for living there then maybe they will want to go back to continue to build their street cred?

Anyways - have a great trip!!!!

The Loerzels said...

You too Carrie! We leave Tuesday, I think you leave before me.


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