Friday, August 28, 2009

Cutlure Shock, Part ...

I don't know how many parts to my culture shock there will be, but for now, this is part 1.

Medina Living; Class Identity. Host family; Jewish Identity. Harassment dialogue; Female Identity.

These are the things that are on my mind. I have not much else to say otherwise (you andI both know that that's a lie, but this is a blog, not a journal, and you are a passive audience far away, not a chum on my left ready for a pillowchat. As I understand that this is unfair to you, I will relate a bit about my home stay and relay to you this article about being an American woman abroad which I just read that I found excruciatingly moving.

I live in the Medina. What this means is that the roads and houses are narrow, the motorcycles are fast and loud, and when you walk out of the house, whether it be night or day, it smells like a mixture of garbage and urine. The house is small - though I haven't explored it all. It sits on to top of a Hanut (Hewbrew speakers, read: Chanut. It's a Makolet, basically), wherefrom was procured our breakfasts this morning. When you get to the door, which is bright red, you unlock the outer treis and then the door itself only to be faced with some of the steepest, but ornately tiled, steps I've ever seen. I'm amazed still that my host (grand)father is able to climb them (recall, he's 71). You come into a sort of middle open space that is the connector for all of the other rooms. Behind you when you walk in are two rooms with toilets. I call them rooms with toilets because they are just that. And they're next to each other. Why? To quote my host mother, "This one is mine. You are a little girl, this one is yours." And a room - on the other side of the house - with a sink and a shower (!?). There is a dining room and a bedroom and a TINY kitchen, and then there is a sitting room...which now mine and Lisa's. We sleep (or, in my case, try to sleep) on couchybed things with two sheets. I'll stop describing now and just take some pictures, but I will say two more things.

My host family speaks French. My host father speaks very very little Arabic, his Hebrew is actually better. Needless to say, we don't communicate well. My host sister, who is returning to Beit/s Ya'acov in France speaks fluent French, her Hebrew is better than her fathers, and her Arabic is FusHa. Who speaks FusHa!? Foreigners. Weird. But we can communicate with relative ease. My host mother speaks perfect French, and her Arabic is good, not great, but she makes up for it in enthusiasm. She is spunky, full of life, and overly concerned about our well being. She took us to see every possible mode of transportation that we might take AmidEast last night around 10pm, to make sure we understood how to take a Grand Taxi, a Petit Taxi, and the bus. On the way we stopped to say hello to all the neighbors. Saying hello is not a short wave, its a "Labas? Labas! Labas Aleyk? Labas! Labas Aley Ochtik? Labas labas!" and it goes on. We never did figure out where the bus stops. The FrenchArabic that is spoken here is going to make me crazy. I'll understand the first chunk of what someone is saying, and then all of a sudden I'll be totally lost in the French only to come back 4 1/2 seconds later when the Arabic starts up again. Sentences were so totally confused, and even more so when you're dinner conversations are held in Farabrewnglishench, over the sounds of the Darija (Moroccan Frarabic)-dubbed Turkish soap opera on TV. But the food was great. It was the first REAL food I've had in Middle East: Traditional couscous. With meat. And I ate it. It looks like I won't be holding to a strict "vegetarian sustainable kosher" diet here in Morocco, and instead will be taking up a strict diet of "Polite".

To top it all off, there is no Internet in their house, and I (knowingly) put ice in my water yesterday which was made from tap water, so I was ill this morning. But I'm not complaining yet. This is just the beginning.

No song for now - gotta run to class. Later. Before Shabbat.

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