right now ramadan is in full swing. living in a city of about 1 million people, i would often wake up and hear the sounds of cars and motorcycles driving past, people talking in the streets, and the occasional vendor selling anything from fish to fruit from my bedroom window. but not these days. now i wake up to the sounds of birds singing if you can believe that. i am not participating in the fast this year because frankly, i don’t think i can survive the heat without drinking water all day but in the spirit of ramadan, i am doing plenty of meditating and self-reflecting (as well as eating delicious lftur [break fast] feasts and couscous but we’ll get to that later).
my cousin is here for a visit. and somehow, whenever we get together, we get into conversations about life, the future, plans, and goals, which of course has got me thinking the grand question: “what am i doing with my life?” and this may scare and/or dismay some of you but honestly, i don’t know. i can’t give you a straight answer for that one. however, i can say that i am learning about myself and how to be a decent human being. i am exploring my options in life. i am enjoying every random moment of adventure i’m having. etc. but i can’t really give you a quantifiable response. yknow? my service ends in 10 months. and as we move closer and closer to may of 2014, i’ve found myself getting increasingly anxious for my future. i’m feeling the pressure to find my next move and to make it a good one. but until then, i resolve to enjoy every second that’s left of my service and to make it count.
sometimes, i get too focused on the future and what’s next that i forget how truly awesome this experience is. once in a while i’m reminded of it but it’s not until someone from home comes to visit when it really hits me how special morocco is. i think the one thing i’ll take away from this experience is the connections that i’ve made with people here. from my host family in my training site, to my host parents in my old site (who still call to check in on me once in a while), to my random encounters with people in general. one most recent encounter i had was when my cousin and another PCV friend of mine were lost on a hike and we see this man and his donkey coming down a hill. my PCV friend approaches him to ask him for directions and he happily showed us the way…and then some. he told us his name is Ahmed and asked us to wait a little while his donkey had a drink of water then he led us back up the hill to an open field where he parked his donkey. he asked us what we were doing so we told him we were on a hike from ahermoumou to a place called meghila to see the waterfalls. so he takes us and shows us the path where we needed to go but then he warns us that it would be too far of a hike to make it back home before the sun goes down. he then takes us to his house and introduces us to his wife and daughters. i can see from the bewildered look in his family’s eyes how confused they were that their father shows up with a group of americans to their house. i guess at that point the three of us are resigned to the idea that we were not going to get to our destination so we were sort of just going with the flow. Ahmed, offers to take us for a little stroll so we went. he takes us around zituna, which is the name of the village we ended up in, introducing us to every person who stops and asks who we are as his family from america which elicited more strange looks from his neighbors. he shows us the olive trees, he tells us about the other american volunteers he knows, etc. we tell Ahmed multiple times that we need to get home before sun down just to be safe and that we can’t stay for the breaking of fast. we told him we didn’t need to eat because we’re not hungry but he insists on us staying. we reached a compromise. he said we can go but not after we make another pit stop at his house. there his family offer us each a glass of juice and sat us down at their table as they scramble to put together a quick snack for us. the three of us didn’t want to be rude and eat before the breaking of fast but at the same time, it was clear that we were not getting out of there without being fed so we decided that we would go ahead and tell them we’d wait and break fast with them in an hour or so. Ahmed was pleased about this and immediately grabs chairs and leads us up on his rooftop where we sat and enjoyed the sunset and talked until the call to prayer came. we may not have gotten to our final destination but instead that night we found ourselves at Ahmed’s table and somehow that was exactly what we all needed.
so anyway, back to the word “baraka”. in darija it can either mean “enough” or a “blessing”. i think it describes my life perfectly with both its meanings. i can’t ask for anything more than this. ramadan is an opportunity for me to remember to be content with my blessings and to appreciate them to the fullest.