Thursday, August 11, 2011

At Home in Morocco

I have been in Morocco now for four months and three and a half weeks. In some ways the time has flown by – or stood still – because it's hard to believe it has been almost five months. But in other ways it feels like it has been a lifetime because it's hard to remember a time before the crazy new life I'm leading didn't feel normal. Though it wasn't until this past week, I think, that I really hit equilibrium. Meaning, I feel I have finally reached a level of normalcy in my consciousness and awareness of my surroundings. The feeling of being constantly overwhelmed has finally ebbed. My mind and soul are finally feeling comfortable – and at home - enough to be rooted and to start to reach beyond to build new dreams and plans for my life and work here. It's a good feeling.

Of course, being physically in my own home has had a lot to do with that. My roommate and I fell in love with a little apartment with a rooftop terrace and on July 2nd, moved in. We then celebrated our independence along with that of the American people two days later - in proper style with Mexican food! :-)

Since then, we have made good progress in furnishing and equipping the apartment for living, though at the same time adjusting to a different standard of living. We bought a brand new refrigerator, but our stove is simply a propane tank sitting on the floor, called a Butagaz, with a burner on top. We have basic dishes, a pot and pan, and silverware, though nothing to put them in so they merely sit stacked on the counter near the sink. Our sofa consists of three foam mattresses lining the wall. But we have a wonderful Moroccan rug and custom-made table in the living room.

Our bedrooms are slowly being made our own. I have a mattress with colorful bedding, an aluminum and cloth armoire that holds all my clothes neatly, and a bookshelf that holds the rest of my stuff. I am waiting for the custom-made platform bed for my mattress as well as nightstand to get the rest of my stuff off the floor and complete my bedroom. The colorful rug and wall-hangings, map of Morocco and a map of Africa, make the space feel like mine.

The outdoor area, the big rooftop terrace that is all our own, is the centerpiece of the apartment. We found a little rubber blow-up pool at Marjane. You can stretch out and be fully immersed in water so it really helps to stave off the summer heat in the absence of air conditioning. I like doing pilates out here, or just lying in the sun reading. With the table and four chairs positioned in the alcove by the window, it is really our second living room. Or first, really. It's a great place, especially after it cools off a bit in the evenings, to sit and eat, play scrabble, or just visit while watching the stars overhead.

Feeling at home in my community is another story so I’ll save that for another entry. For the time being, however, having a place to call home gives me the mental space – not to mention the time I haven’t had up till now – to write. So I will take this newfound opportunity to fill you in on my time here so far, focusing on the most important or common aspects of my experience. In that spirit, the next few blog entries will be catch-up entries. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

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