Woke up around nine, showered, and had a typical breakfast. I'm still confounded by the lack of toilet paper. I mean, what do they do? We brought our own, thankfully. Small, individual rolls of Charmin in a handy, watertight container. They could charge $10 for one of these, and it would totally be worth it.
We went to Hicham's parents' house to meet up with some others that had arrived last night, including Hicham's sister Badia and her husband Gerome, and their three kids ( __, Gabriel, and Alain) who live in Belgium, Hicham's brother Salah and his wife (____) and three daughters, who also live in Belgium, and Geraldine, a friend of Salah, and her two kids, who also live in Belgium. Must be some kind of weird Moroccan/Belgian connection.
We loaded up into several vehicles. Fortunately, the standard personal space and common sense safety rules don't apply, and that allows us to put eight people in a car the size of a Toyota Camry. We went to a beach town a few meters S/W of El Jadida. We set out all our gear, and to everyone's credit, I think everybody got in the water, which is saying a lot because it was cold. It was like New Jersey in May. It was a nice change from some of the hot and stuffy times in the previous few days. It was very refreshing. The cold water explains the nice weather in Casablanca and El Jadida. Of the 16 of us (three cars), the four men went to a cafe and had a local beer. . . or five. (Women don't hang out in cafes in Morocco, unless they're prostitutes, which we did see there). "Especial" for most of us. As the only American at the table, the task of defending everything my country has ever done fell solely on me. Everyone at the table had been to the US, so they weren't as filled with a lot of the stereotypical prejudices of the USA that people that have never been there are. I guess we took a while because eventually some of the kids and women found us. We collected the others and drove back to the Choukaili's, where Fridays are Couscous Night. They set up a huge bowl in the kitchen for the kids, at least a dozen, and Tristan and Zoe fit right in, tearing into the couscous with their bare right hands. No language barrier at meal time.
Meanwhile, in the smaller, auxiliary salon, the servants (still not slaves) set up the adult couscous.
They brought out a bowl that was at least two feet in diameter filled with couscous (which is actually pasta about the size and shape of large grains of sand) and vegetables of all sorts. Added into that is some kind of aged butter sauce (smen, I believe) and some other sauce that spiced it up a bit. The traditional drink with couscous is buttermilk, which sounds a little gross, but actually paired very nicely. You don't eat bread with couscous. There was way more food than we could all eat, but we did our darnedest.
Once again I have to mention that one of the most awesome facets of Moroccan culture is what you do after you eat a big meal. Conveniently, the living room is the dining room, so you're already sitting on wall-to-wall couches when you've finished your meal. The remnants are removed, you lay down, put your feet up, (you've already removed your shoes when you entered the salon, by the way) and even nap if you want. It's actually encouraged. What could be more wonderful! You eat a huge delicious meal on the couch, and then sleep it off. I so want to do Thanksgiving at my house this way.
After the meal, several people including Jennifer and Zoe, went to the hammam حمّام, bath house.
I declined, b/c I wasn't dressed for it, plus despite the glowing reviews by my Moroccan friends, the idea of getting bathed by some dude just didn't sound very appealing to me. At least in the hammam, you don't go commando, unlike Korean baths. (I didn't partake of that either, btw.)
After the guys got back from the hammam, and I finished working off lunch (woke up) we went to a cafe a couple blocks away. Almost the whole conversation was in French, and since I only understand about half of any French conversation, at most, I just drank my coffee (espresso in the US) and watched people. No complaints.
Meanwhile, back at the house, the women were getting henna tatoos.
The rest of the day/evening was a lot of just hanging out, interjected with the occasional hot mint tea and pastries.
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