Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Things I've Learned in Morocco

There are few things better than a shower, a cold bottle of water, and a clean white shirt. This fact held throughout training, but after three weeks at site I believe it to be a universal constant. (Much like the continued awesomeness of Battlestar Galactica and Gossip Girl).

They call Peace Corps the toughest job you’ll ever love, and throughout training I never understood why. Not the love part, mind you – I had the time of my life during PST – but the tough part. When were things supposed to get tough? The people were fabulous, the food delicious, and even if I felt unmoored in a new environment I knew I had a million and one people, from staff and other PCT’s to the juice guy down the way, that were willing and able to help. Well, I just found the tough part.

Life at site is very different from PST. The people are still fantastic, the food is still delicious (I’ll be damned if my host mom doesn’t make a mean misnmn), and there are still a million people I know I can ask for help. It’s the asking for help part that’s tough. Or asking in general…make that communicating.

Tashlheet is hard, yo.

Strike that – Tash isn’t hard, but its very unlike any other language I’ve studied. And right now it’s the only way for me to express myself on a daily basis. I was amazed how quickly I was able to commit words to memory during training – after all, I was using them almost every day – and even here at site my language skills have grown immensely. Three weeks ago I would trip over myself asking if I could take a walk (rirh ad zigzh, is waxxa?). Now its comes out easily. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve only been speaking Tash for three months, which means there is still quite a bit I can’t say. And a lot I’d like to ask my new friends and neighbors (who, I’ll say it, are absolute saints as they listen to my Tash and wait for me to remember the verb ‘to sell’…its znz) that I just can’t.

My mother called me last week and she couldn’t get a word in edgewise – I was so carried away simply being able to talk that I’m not sure she got out more than a few sentences (hi, mum!).

But I know that the language will come. It just takes time – something I have plenty of. But while I study language, meet neighbors, play soccer, explore my valley, and figure out just where I fit into my new community, I know just what to do if the language barrier and the heat begin to take their toll:

I’ll take a shower, pull my water bottle out of the fridge, and put on a crisp, clean white button down.

PS – I also sometimes buy a snickers.


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