Expat Magazine

Absence Makes the Heart Grow!

By Quinninmorocco

I’m finding that blogging is a lot like going to the gym.

You never do it. Why bother. Then, for some reason, you get in the habit of doing it. And then you get really into it. And maybe even do it more than you have to, just because it’s fun. And everyone comments (literally/figuratively) on it. You start envisioning a career or a future from this new-found talent.

And then….you fall off of the bandwagon. Slowly, of course. One missed day here turns into a week. And then it becomes harder and harder to go back because you are so out of shape.  It’s easier to just “do it tomorrow” than it is to force yourself back into the habit. And really, why would you do something today if you can just put it off until tomorrow? Suddenly, you realize you probably couldn’t even remember your way to the gym if you tried to go. Self-intervention time.

That’s pretty much why I’ve disappeared from the blog-o-sphere. SHEER LAZINESS. We had L’3id, and then I went home to America for a lovely visit, and then I came back to Morocco and had a wonderful training, and then I came back to Tameslouht and fell head-first into a project that is 6 weeks away from happening.

Excuses, excuses. I know. If I REALLY cared, I would have showed it.



….sharing is caring?

So, I’ve lived through one L’3id. I think last year, I was so wrapped up in the excitement of a new country, new culture, new language, new everything, I didn’t quite notice how….gross…this holiday can be. For some reason, this year, I had to actually take breaks from the “action.” I know, I know– “Suck it up soldier, it’s just a headless sheep!” But see how YOU’D do watching two beheadings in one morning before you’ve had your coffee. And…if you really want to see, I have video footage. Just ask my parents to forward it to you!

This year’s 3id was fun because I was more than just some weird American stuck in a poor Moroccan family’s house. I was able to get a little more involved in the whole process (and had better language skills in terms of figuring out what was happening). About 3 or 4 days before the holiday, I was invited to go pick out a sheep at a sheep souk. A literal meat market!


I would liken it a lot to picking out a Christmas tree. If you think about it for more than a minute, it is pretty strange that you walk into an abandoned parking lot that has been momentarily turned into a holding cell for cut-down trees. In this case, though, it was more like an abandoned field that had been turned into a parking lot, and the cars within it were teeming with sheep. After the two friends I was with got quoted astronomically high prices for the first two sheep they inquired about, I was kindly asked to “mingle” with the crowd while they selected a sheep. (An effective way to avoid the “white people” tax). Eventually, they got a mighty fine specimen- and for a decent price too!



The sheep was delivered later to Tameslouht in a little truck that was parked near the sheep souk. Some people, however, literally shoved their sheep into the trunks of taxis and transported them that way. Case-in-point:



I think there were at least 3 comfortably stuffed back there.

The morning of L’3id, I woke up at 7 (that’s really early according to my internal clock/ usual schedule). I headed over to my first family’s house to watch the official dbe7-ing (beheading) of the sheep. Like last year, there wasn’t a lot of fuss about the whole affair- no hugging the sheep goodbye, no singing happy songs to soothe the pain away from the impending death, just kinda unceremonious holding-down-of-the-sheep and then a quick slit with the knife and….safi. Done.

The one innovation I saw in Tameslouht l’3id was the implementation of the bicycle pump. Last year, my host father used his own mouth to blow into the space between the sheep’s skin and the muscle. Kinda unsanitary, now that I’m thinking about it. This year, both families I was with used this fancy shmancy contraption to achieve the same ends: making the peeling off of the skin and subsequent cutting apart of the sheep a much cleaner process. Sheep balloons, anyone?





And then it got hung up in the house. Like a Christmas tree!

The rest of the day involved a lot of laying around, eating meat, and drinking tea. If you remember from last year, I learned that drinking tea while eating meat that’s high in fat (like sheep) makes the fat wash right through you! Needless to say, I drank a lot of tea.

sad from making so much tea.

sad from making so much tea.

Life between L’3id and America was a week-long blur. I think I taught an English class or two, had some meetings for a project or two…I really couldn’t tell you. Literally all that was on my mind was the looming prospect of Mexican food. Oh yeah, and my family and friends and all that.

First item on the American agenda? This lovely lady got married.



Last item on the agenda?









There was a lottttt of greatness in between. Morning walks with my parents and the dogs, enjoying a hot cup of coffee almost every morning, afternoon, and/ or evening at whatever new name ERC has, visiting old friends and professors in Athens and Atlanta, the American phenomenon known as “brunch,” basking in the goodness that is Trader Joe’s, going to the supermarket 5 or 6 times in one day because my mom forgot to ask for carrots….and stuffing….and…., buying a bottle of wine and not looking over my shoulder to see whether or not I was being watched by my neighbor, playing with my dogs, buying clothes/ having clothes bought for me, hot showers, limitless texts, conversations in English every step of the way……oh, the joys of America run deep. Huge, huge thanks to everyone who made time to see me, and equally huge apologies to all of those whose schedules I just couldn’t accommodate. You all are first on my list to see next November!

My first week back in Morocco involved a week-long training with the International Youth Foundation. This was an optional training for PCVs interested in implementing a 52-ish week long curriculum of life skills in their respective sites. I had heard good things about it from a fellow PCV who was trained earlier this year and has already begun teaching in his site and was interested in seeing how Tameslouht would benefit from something like this. I was having second thoughts about jumping into an Arabic training fresh off of the proverbial boat, but man, day one of the training, I was sold.

The idea is that you and a local counterpart conduct the curriculum in your dar chabab. The lessons range from how to say no to drugs, how to deal with stress, cultivating a positive outlook on life, recognizing emotions, and everything in between. I thought the lesson plans were thoughtful and really supplement the Moroccan education system well. Of course, having a wonderful counterpart makes it all the easier was well.




So, after a whirlwind month or so, I’m back safe and sound in Tameslouht, running around like the white chicken I am. The next big item on my Moroccan agenda? A one-day interfaith dialogue conference in Tameslouht. Mark your calendars for Thursday, January 24th, book your plane tickets, saddle your camels, and get ready for an awesome event. Lots more to come on this, but in the mean time, “Like” us on Facebook and help a sistah out with publicity!


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