Becoming Berber

Hopping into the back of the truck box, we head to a neighbouring village and visit the weekly market. The objective for our morning outing is to pick up our vegetables for the week as well as visit the area where the traditional breakfast and tea is served. A market like this is definitely by far the most unique place I’ve been and is visually a blast from the past. Walking through I attempted to commit what I was seeing to memory in an effort to be able to recreate and paint a picture that I could share. There are numerous stands with merchants selling all of the essentials. The ground is decorated with an array of colors, displaying vegetables, fruits, and other staples. As we venture through the what looks to be impromptu market I see sights unfamiliar. Before you close your eyes let me put an image in your mind.

Walking down a dusty path you see merchants on either side, each tending to their local clientele, weighing their goods with a old fashion metal balance scale, you walk by, you pass a man carrying a live but spiritless turkey by the legs, another few steps and you come across a stand ready to kill and clean your newly purchased chicken, or maybe you prefer to buy your meat already cut so you pass by a wooden table with the slab of meat you want sitting straight on the bloody wood surface. Around the corner a man sells eggs, turn to your left and all the spices you can imagine appear.

Before you prepare to close your eyes and bring yourself to this place, the year is 1000 years back if not more, few women walk the streets of the market and as you begin to feel, smell, see and taste, visualize yourself walking through the stalls, imagine what you may experience.

Week one observations in summary of becoming Berber:

– Forget forks, knifes or spoons, use bread as your scoop or better yet cup your fingers and dig in. Don’t forget to remember your Berber table etiquette when eating from any communal serving dish, keep to your side until there is no where else to go but the middle.

– He who makes the tea serves the tea.

– When you notice someone is almost finished their bread, it is an unwritten rule that you must automatically give a new piece before the person is even done.

– Pour the Moroccan tea often and high to create bubbles, don’t forget to wash the tea leaves, and add the sugar and herbs after you fire the tea pot over the burner.

– Don’t panic when you look at your hands and see them the dirtiest they’ve ever been, this is Morocco and your hands will take on the colour of turmeric. Also, who needs lotion, when eating with your hands, there is enough natural grease on your hands that you just have to get use to rubbing it in, why waste right;)

– Burping is perfectly acceptable at the table.

– Get use to eating on the floor.

– When it’s time for someone here to pray they just pull out their carpet and begin their prayers. Although you must be respectful when someone is praying there is no need to leave the room or stop what you are doing. As long as you are quiet and not disturbing the person in prayer directly then all is good.

– If you are a women, a man no matter the age will greet you with a handshake only. Women with women will often do this as well. For men it is acceptable to have more contact even to the point of holding hands down the street.

Well, this has all been hunky dorey however this conservative culture is making me a little crazy, I Need Out! Or for the time being I could really use a good drink, party, and hell maybe even a smoke.

November 27, 2013

Boulaoune, Imintanoute, Morocco

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