One of the basic ideas behind peace corps is that everybody is pretty much the same everywhere, and if we realize that, then we'll all be better people. Sargent Shriver (Sarge) said 'Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.'
This sameness is apparent when walking around a small city like mine. Unfortunately, the most obvious similarities are due to coca-colonization- there are cars everywhere (old ones); there are apartments for sale and for rent (all-cement ones); there are people going to their jobs as mechanics and salespeople and carpenters and shop owners and cigarette-peddlers. There are gas stations; there are also people selling gas on the side of the road out of 2-liter plastic bottles. There's soda, there's sugar, and there's rampant diabetes.
Usually, this is mildly depressing for me. This country is playing a game which is stacked against them. This town will not turn into New York City. Ever. And if it did, we'd all be screwed because the world doesn't have enough for everybody to live like Americans do (flamboyantly wasteful, that is).
However, other times the sameness comes through on more of a human level.
Krista and I were hanging out a friend's house. She is our Sharqiya tutor, seems pretty conservative, always dresses all in black and covers her head. We'd been talking about all these local names for various foods and vegetables. Our friend was in the kitchen and we were sitting in a living-room space hanging out with the old, berber granny. Over here, grandmothers are called Henna, as in, that stuff that women use to draw patterns on their hands and feet for special occasions. This lady had a pretty serious mountain accent and one minute I was with it and the next had absolutely no damn clue what she was talking about. Here was one particularly lucid exchange:
Henna: And potatoes! There are three kinds of potatoes yeah? "blah", "blah", and "blahblah"
Me: Potatoes? What? Which is the brown one, which is the red one, and which is the scrawny one?
Henna: The red! yes, the red, that one is "blah".
Henna: Yes! Hey, grand-daughter, get in here.
Our Tutor: Yes Henna?
Henna: The potatoes! Red ones are called "blah" and ...
Our Tutor: What? No, a potato is a potato is a potato. There aren't different names.
Henna (clearly affronted): You don't know the names for the potatoes?
Our Tutor: No I don't, they're just potatoes.
Henna (grumbling): These kids don't even know anything, all they do is watch tv.
Kids these days.
In our tutor's defense, it's unclear whether the names could be considered dialectical Arabic at all- they may have been beni snassen amazigh words a.k.a. mountain language old people speak.
In other news, it is January 29th, and it is 74 degrees. As a world champion in sweating heavily, I've got 8 months of nastiness ahead of me.
The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, nor any other governmental or non-governmental organization.
Nor is anything written here necessarily drawn from my own views, opinions, and observations. Please consider all postings and pictures complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality. For legal purposes, please additionally regard the author as utterly imaginary.
The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, governmental or non-governmental organizations.
Nor is anything written here necessarily my own views, opinions, or observations. Please consider all pictures and texts here to be complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality, this one or any other. For legal purposes, please additionally consider the author to be utterly imaginary.