makethislast

imik s imik

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on March 8, 2010

“Sfld, 3awd, jawb… Sfld, 3awd, jawb… Sfld, 3awd, jawb…” (Listen, repeat, jawb.)

That’s pretty much what my LCF says to during each session. LCF, thank you for your patience. llah irHm lwalidin!

Imik S imik, I’m picking up bits and pieces of the culture and the language is sticking together in my head. It’s a lot of vocabulary and culture to absorb at once, so I’m trying to observe and listen more.

Breakfast: Some type of oatmeal-cream of wheat with tea. As I unsuccessfully tried to decline breakfast, my host mom insisted I eat something before heading out the door. The kids were at the table so rather than refuse in front of their mother (and appear rude), I ate quickly because I was already late to class at 8am. Luckily, others were too!

Class was myzan (good). One of the exercises required us to go outside, practice the greetings we learned, and return with 5 people’s names (including at least one man and one woman). Boy was that a social interaction! Some women were really friendly and encouraging, some conservative men declined to engage in conversation with us, and the kids were having fun with us and our elementary Tashleheit skills. Later on, the LCF gave us a tour around the area, showing us the marketplace (open on weekends), mosque, church, co-op, schools, and (prenatal) clinic. We also had time to ask questions about Moroccan traditions and culture. Currently, more women are attending university than men. Interestingly, my entire CBT group (sans LCF) consists only of women. I hope we (as smart, educated, and capable women) convey the message that educating women is a critical investment for a community. Then again, Agouim might not have any trouble recognizing that as we are borrowing a women’s association for our CBT sessions and the co-op we saw is run by women.

By the way, I completely committed a cultural faux pas this afternoon when I returned home after class. Much like yesterday’s LCF satirical skit of PCTs, I walked in and greeted everyone with a happy “s-salam u 3alikum” without the gestures! booo! I will perform the correct greeting rituals beginning tomorrow!

More and more, I see how everything about who a person is gets tested in the Peace Corps from the moment he/she applies:

  • patience – you don’t know when or where you’ll be invited to serve,
  • relationships – some conclude, some are redefined, and some continue,
  • adaptability – more or less of a nomadic lifestyle,
  • levels of cleanliness (and frequency of showers),
  • ability to eat a meal and discuss bowel movements simultaneously,
  • constant human interaction – reaching out to those experiencing tough moments, being watched by the host family while brushing my teeth (haha!), and
  • comfort vs. vulnerability levels.

Without a doubt, the list will continue to grow.

Please note, the next anecdote is a true Peace Corps moment but will be a bit graphic in detail. If you do not want to learn what females (also) do in the restroom and/or you don’t want to know about me and a Turkish toilet, stop here and return for the next post!  Otherwise, continue reading for some restroom-related entertainment.

PC encourages you to recognize small successes. Well, tonight, I recognize a BIG success.

During Turkish Toilet 101, the female LCFs forewarned us about poor plumbing and sewer systems and suggested females not dispose of toilet paper in the toilet after they’re done. Rather, they should toss the paper in a mika (plastic bag) and dispose of it later. Well, this morning, I decided I’d “test” my host family’s drain by “flushing” my tissue after I was finished. Mashi musqil, no problem. Or so I thought.

Another piece of advice the LCFs shared was to check that everything was completely flushed before exiting the bit lma. I’m SO glad they shared that tip, lHamdullah!

Tonight, I successfully completed both “activities” in a Turkish toilet. I was seriously SO proud of myself! Nice aim, solid output, clean bottoms, dry pants! Truthfully, not as daunting or traumatic as I expected. I pulled up my pants and was nearly ready to exit the bit lma when I noticed my…”solid effort.” Mashi, musqil, right? I’ll just dump the large bucket of water down the drain (as taught by current PCVs) and the water should clear the drain right up. Ohhh ho (nooo).

As it turned out, I had to walk to the faucet to refill the big (perhaps 5 liter?) bucket, carry it back in, and dump the water with enough force to forcefully flush the toilet. When that didn’t work, I picked up the plunger. It took me 20 minutes and 5 treks to the faucet before the toilet finally drained completely! During this entire process, I kept worrying that my host mother or other family member would walk downstairs and see me! How awkward and uncomfortable would that have been? Luckily, that never happened, lHamdullah!

Thank goodness I asked one of my host sisters to show me where to refill the bit lma bucket soon after I returned home this evening!

Was that kharma or what? Lesson learned: no more flushing toilet paper down Turkish toilets.

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