cultural

Taghia

I’m not what you would call an “outdoorsy” person. When I was growing up, we did do a little bit of “camping”. And by “camping” I mean traveling the country in a bigasabus motorhome with a TV, oven, microwave and refrigerator and staying at KOA campgrounds. I liked the IDEA of being outdoorsy, and I did have a North Face fleece at one point, which was my token outdoor gear. I was actually a little surprised that Jay wanted to marry me because he was a rock-climbing, LNT kind of guy and I was a comfy couch, toilet, showereveryday kind of girl. I think Jay had an agenda when we got married because the first 2 presents he got for me once we got engaged were a North Face rain jacket and a North Face backpack. I have to admit that I actually cried when I opened those presents. A backpack, really? For a birthday present? For the girl you had just proposed to 2 weeks before? I’m not sure you could get any-less affectionate then that.

Fast-forward 9 and a half years and I think I’ve come a long way. Showering everyday? With three kids, are you kidding? I actually pride myself on how long I can go without washing my hair. And while my wardrobe probably doesn’t scream, “take my hiking!” I can get by. So when Jay started mentioning how he wanted to have a family adventure to a remote part of our country, I was ALL IN from the beginning. The main concern I had was how to bribe our 3 small children to hike for 3 hours without having to carry at least one, probably 2 for most of the time. Around this time, we had friends from America that were planning a trip to visit us, so we suckered them into coming at the perfect time so that they could help us with our kids on this grand adventure! (JK, they were actually really happy to come and help. There was no suckering involved. OK, maybe a little! 🙂 )

There are no roads into this gorge. So we stayed in a village closest to where to road ends and then hiked in from there. It was so amazing! Thankfully, we had hired 2 mules to carry our packs, so the mule guys were happy to have our kids ride with them. This was a life-saver! I’m sure it would have taken us a good 5 or 6 hours if they had not been able to ride. Plus, there were some slightly treacherous parts and we had to cross back and forth over the river a couple of time. It would have been interesting, to say the least.

This place is BEAUTIFUL! They call it the “Yosemite of Morocco” and it did not disappoint. The most amazing thing is that it is practically empty. There is a village back there, but besides that, there were maybe 20 other foreigners there. Mostly rock climbers from Europe, as it is a premier rock-climbing site.

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The trip did not come without some of puking, LOTS of trips to the squatty potties, and some tears. But really, that’s pretty standard for our family and what’s an adventure without a good amount of bodily fluids. 🙂

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The Jellaba

Real Talk: I hate to get dressed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m am always wearing clothes, but the mental process of choosing what to wear is pretty much the most exhausting thing ever. You mean, I have to feed everyone 3 meals a day, wash clothes, keep the house somewhat presentable AND pick out clothes for myself to wear everyday. Nope, can’t do it! I am miserably failing at my New Years resolution: Wear REAL clothes more often. I decided sometime around January 1st that Yoga pants and Jay’s t-shirt from when he played little league (when he was 12) were not really cutting it for my daily fashion choices. I have really tried to change, but it’s just so dang exhausting for me!

Enter one of my very favorite things about this culture.

The Jellaba

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This long dress kind-of thing is probably the one cultural thing I have adopted more then any other. Why?! Because I can WEAR MY PJs ALL DAY. I’m serious. The women here (not all, but most) wear their pajamas all day, and when they need to leave the house they throw on their jellaba, a head covering, a cute pair of shoes, some make-up and they look like a million bucks. (unlike them, I’m usually still rocking the flip-flops and no make-up look) But the whole time, under that beautiful Jellaba, they are wearing their PJs. Amazing. It is really helpful when the temperature is 110 degrees outside and I absolutely cannot stand the idea of throwing on jeans and a cardigan. Need to leave the house in shorts and a tank-top? Not a problem, just throw on the jellaba. Need to answer the door but wearing said shorts/tank top? Not a problem, throw on the jellaba. It’s a miracle dress for me, really. 

I usually get some funny looks and stares, because not many foreigners wear them as regularly as I do (which is ok, because I’m used to it!). But they are probably better at putting clothes on then I am. 🙂

Comfort in the Discomfort

Before I moved here, I heard stories of these parties or visits that would last hours and hours, and my first thought was always, “I’ll never survive.” Seriously, that sounded like a really bad dream. How could you possibly sit in a room for hours upon hours, drinking tea and speaking a different language?! And yet, that has become a reality and one that I have come to not just survive, but enjoy.

This, beingcomfortableintheultimatediscomfort, seems to be the theme of my life for the last couple of years. Also, the idea of comfortable is so relative, isn’t it?! I sometimes look at my life and think, “if this were happening to me in America, I would be SO UNCOMFORTABLE! Never, would I Ever!” And yet, I tend to live so out of comfort that there is no box for what “comfort” should be. Case in point, This baby party I went to the other day. I’ll just give you a play by play.

If you follow me on instagram, you will know that I was invited to a baby party (basically a baby shower, but after the baby is born) last week. I was going on day 3 of single-parenting, day 2 of potty training Hannah, and it was at 5:30 on a Thursday evening (dinner time after a long day at school for the big kids). If I’m honest, I decided to go because there would be free food and I was too lazy to cook. 🙂

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I knew this party was going to be a late one. But like I’ve said, I’ve gotten used to hours and hours of sitting. So picture this: I walk into a room FULL of beautifully dressed woman (who have obviously spent a good portion of the day getting ready), a band is playing over a loud speaker (so loud my kids covered their ears the whole time), people are dancing and here I am with my brood of crazies, a too-big long skirt, grey shirt and cardigan, and my needstobewashed hair in a bun. I know 1 person in the entire room, and I am the only foreigner. If I actually took a second to step out of my life for a second, I’m not sure it could get any more uncomfortable.

Let’s just say that when I lived in America I was not quick to put myself in situations where I would be out of place. I liked to know my surroundings and the people who were going to be a part of them. I was very very rarely the “new” girl in anything. My family had lived in my town for 5 generations, I went to the same school for 13 years, there was never really anything “new” about me or my life. Even when I went to college, I roomed with my friend from high school and slowly worked up the nerve to have conversations with people I didn’t know. I don’t think anyone would have pegged me as a “shy” person, per se, but I have always dealt with debilitating insecurity that kept me from doing things that were out of my beautiful comfort zone. And then years later, I was lovingly pulled away from “normalcy” and “comfort” into this crazy neverincontrol life.

And yet this crazy life, this “new girl” thing has become my normal, everyday life and I have learned to love it. Somehow, the sitting for hours and the only-white girl and the crazy kids and the trying to speak a different language and the trying to dance but looking like a fool, has become my normal and I don’t just love it, but in the midst of it I’m so full of JOY I’m brought to tears. (just so you know, there are also been plenty of times that I am brought to tears because I’m so overwhelmed with the fact that I can’t speak the language, know the culture, made a fool of myself, etc…It’s not always a huge joy party…but I try to hold onto the joy moments, so that it’s easier to keep going in the  ijustwanttocrawlinahole moments.)

So I think my definition of a “Good” Party is really different then it was a couple of years ago. Yes, we sat a lot and yes, we were there for 4 hours before we actually ate dinner and yes, my kids’ bedtime was 10:30 that night, but somehow the fact that I should have been uncomfortable, but wasn’t, made it the best party I’ve ever been too. Oh and the dancing the night away was pretty awesome too!

IMG_1511(Just in case you want to see what a typical party is like, I took a little video so you can experience it!)

Baby Party