i accepted yogurt from a stranger and ate it with a silver spoon.

 

their silver spoon.

Ok so before I go into this, let me tell you quickly the events leading up to said incident:

Basically, I was medevac-ed (medically evacuated) for two days for a toothache. The PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Office) sent a PC car to pick me up from El Hajeb to take me to Rabat to get my tooth checked out.  They put me up in a hotel, gave me per diem, I got to meet and hang out with some current volunteers–some nearing their COS (close of service) date but most importantly, took care of the toothache, which turned out to be a no biggie. I just got some antibiotics and was told that if the toothache comes back, I may need a root canal. **Side Note: I know that there may be some skeptics and critics of the Peace Corps Staff’s ability to take care of volunteers but I have been so impressed by their attentiveness and genuine care for me thus far (from my old host family fiasco to this). Although it might seem like a little bit of an overreaction to bring me 3 hrs away to Rabat for a toothache, I am so appreciative of their willingness to do so in the first place. I welcome the break from training and most of all the change of scenery and the solitude, even just for a couple of days.** ANYHOW, unlike my journey to Rabat, this time I was on my own to return to my CBT site. I was instructed to take a train to Meknes, then take a petit taxi to the grand taxi station and then finally, a grand taxi to El Hajeb. It was on the train that things got a little weird.

I thought I’d get a little fancy and spring for the 1st class ticket (25 DHs more than 2nd class…basically the cost of a good sandwich or like a scarf to put it in perspective) home considering it was nearly a 3 hour ride and I really, really didn’t want to deal with the smoking and the 1st class cabin was air conditioned and a lot quieter. The tickets gave you assigned seats so I was in a cabin with an older woman (who by the way stole my seat and was a little bit of a grouch. She later redeemed herself by telling me where to get off. L-Hamdullah), a middle-aged man (who spoke a teeny tiny bit of English), and an old married couple (neither one had volume control, screamed on the phone and at each other, but otherwise very nice). I made a little small talk with the group using what broken and sad Darija I had in my vocabulary and then proceeded to read my book. 30 mins into the trip the lady (of the old married couple) extended her hand and offered me a yogurt. I was caught off guard and the only thought I had was the fact that we were told in training that saying “No.” to anything is considered disrespectful and rude although in retrospect, it probably would have been acceptable to decline the yogurt at that juncture considering the fact that we were complete strangers to each other and we were on a train…it’s weird to eat yogurt on the train. I think what they meant in training was that we should not say “No” to whatever our host families offer us or that we shouldn’t say “No” to tea invitations and whatnot because we are trying to integrate. We want to seem open and accepting of the culture at all times. ANYWAY, whatever so I freaked out. I accepted with the intention of just putting it in my bag for later but noooooo. The husband gestured for me to wait as his wife frantically dug through their bags, which I shortly came to find out that she was looking for a frickin spoon! They wanted me to eat it right then and there; thankfully it was cold, which signaled its freshness. In my head I’m going, “please be a plastic spoon, please be a plastic spoon, please be a plastic spoon…”. Lo and behold, she pulled out with excitement similar to that of whoever it was that pulled out the sword from the rock, a silver spoon, which she aggressively wiped down with some sort of cloth that she found in the same bag and then I watched as she poured some water on it and continued to scrub it down some more—at this point, it was too late to turn back. How can I refuse to eat the yogurt now after she went through all that trouble? So I willingly took the spoon from her and ate as quickly as possible, being extra careful of not putting the whole thing in my mouth (coz the tip don’t count…baaahaha). I don’t know if that helped reduce the risk of diseases or anything but that justified the whole situation in my head and prevented me from freaking out completely. I must’ve looked really sad and hungry because they also opened a bag of madelines and gave me some. At first I relented, but let’s face it; who says no to madelines? I was already in elbow deep; I might as well just go for it. So I did. Besides, madelines are completely harmless in comparison to yogurt and a borrowed silver spoon.  After I was done with my yogurt, I wiped the spoon down with a tissue and returned it back to the lady and thanked them both for their generosity. We each continued on with our journey like nothing ever happened. Sweet.

At present time I am feeling quite okay… no stomach pains or weird rashes. Oh, and the toothache is also gone. I don’t know but since being here in Morocco, I’ve become a little bit of a germaphobe. I hold my breath when people sneeze or cough in my direction, I wash my hands all the time and carry hand sanitizer with me wherever I go, I discreetly try to wipe down glasses and/or bottles when I’m in restaurants, and I am careful of putting my face on strange pillows in hotels (and ssshhh…even in my host family’s house). But judging from my present relatively healthy condition almost a day after the yogurt and silver spoon incident, I don’t expect to develop any diseases from that encounter. Inshallah. We shall see!

my first solo adventure: took the tram then the train…

 

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