Finally, A Return

After months and months of yearning and whining and making our loved ones in our city feel super jealous—we finally made it! A few days after the El Jadida camp, we visited our first Moroccan home, Agourai.

Home Sweet Home! (pictured in the back are our two host sisters, Imane and Ahlam. The little girl is Maryam, our fave neighbor kid who lives around the corner. The two little boys are cousins & our CBT mate Ben's host brothers--they live next door.)

Home Sweet Home! (pictured in the back are our two host sisters, Imane and Ahlam. The little girl is Maryam, our fave neighbor kid who lives around the corner. The two little boys are cousins & our CBT mate Ben’s host brothers–they live next door.)

Of course, our plans for a short two-day trip failed. The moment we told our family when we planned to leave, their faces fell. “We’ll be back really soon for L-3id,” we tried to assure them. But Mama Fadila had a secret weapon, a card up her sleeve that would assure her triumph… “Ah, it’s possible for you to leave that day,” she said slyly, “BUUUUUUT I’m going to make rfissa that night for dinner. Really late. Soooooo….”

She got us.

Oh, Rfissa. I love you.

Mama Fadila’s rfissa wins everything.

Our few days in Agourai were amazing. And not long enough. We stayed with Paul, who is the PCV stationed in Agourai. Another wonderful part about the trip was getting to know Paul better. We admitted to him the truth—that before we knew him, we were very apprehensive about him getting assigned to the Best Town In The World. It’s so aziz a lina (dear to us) that we had LOFTY expectations for the PCV who got it.

However, now that we know Paul and have spent so much time with him—both at the Jadida camp and doing sibling bonding activities in Agourai—we’re frhanin bzaf (very happy) and also relieved. Agourai is in good hands!

Bros in matching gnduras.

Bros in matching gnduras.

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We happened to take this trip during the peak fury of local election time. Our Baba Hassan is the Vice President of the Municipality, so of course he is very involved. It was cool to get to witness the campaigning process close up. You can learn more about elections in Morocco here on our friends Matt and Anne’s blog. 

A giant stack of flyers promoting the Mizan (Scales) Party.

A giant stack of flyers promoting the Mizan (Scales) Party.

Although we slept at Paul’s apartment, we spent most of the time relaxing at our host parents’ house or traipsing around Agourai & soaking in the familiar sights. (And the unfamiliar sights too! There’s been development and construction in the few months since we left!)

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Zombie attack!

Zombie attack!

High fives!

High fives!

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Bringing back some camp songs from Jadida: SHARK ATTACK DO DOOOO DO DO!

Bringing back some camp songs from Jadida: SHARK ATTACK DOO DOOOOO DOO DOO!

LOST A LEG DOO DOOOOO DOO DOO

LOST A LEG DOO DOOOOO DOO DOO

We were able to be there on a Friday too, which meant COUS COUS!

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Also lots of post-meal naps, a common thing in our Moroccan lives.

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On Saturday, we Americans took a day trip to Meknes, the big city just a 10 dirham (roughly $1) taxi ride away from Agourai. We did a bit of shopping, including gifts for the family and a huge Amazigh flag for us! (We’re going to bring it to DC for the Blog It Home presentations, and then hang it up on our wall.)

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The Amazigh Flag bears the symbol of “yaz,” which refers to what “Amazigh” means: The Free Man.

In Meknes, while we were hanging out on a rooftop cafe overlooking the main square, we noticed a commotion going on near the market in the square. There was a film crew, a bunch of decked-out mules, and a crowd of uniformed people running around. When we looked closer, we saw that the uniforms were aprons with a familiar logo… It was MasterChef Morocco!!!!!! Filming in Meknes!!!!! They were in the middle of doing/filming a challenge in the spice/dessert market, which involved jumping on horses. We saw Chef Khadija being escorted by bodyguards. (Here you can watch a funny video of U.S. Ambassador Dwight Bush with Chef Khadija cooking a Ramadan Iftur.) Unfortunately, we didn’t have our DSLR camera with us, so we couldn’t capture the moment. But we rushed down to the square just as the MasterChef contestants were riding off on their mules. We jumped on benches and started waving as the camera swung towards us.

Perhaps we’ll be in an episode of MasterChef Morocco?!?! Or maybe they’ll edit us out. Keep an eye out for the Meknes episode of MasterChef Morocco and let us know. We don’t have television.

After that, back to Agourai for shenanigans bzaf.

Playing Moroccan cards with the siblings. (BTW, Moroccan cards are really confusing. There's no 8 or 9, and the suits are all weird. One of them is a gourd, I think??)

Playing Moroccan cards with the siblings. (BTW, Moroccan cards are really confusing. There’s no 8 or 9, and the suits are all weird. One of them is a gourd, I think??)

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Special shout-out to our new best friend, Batman.

Batman is Paul’s cat and and pretty awesome individual. I adore him even though he thought my hair was a cat toy while I was sleeping.

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It was a wonderful way to end our August break. We love our wild travels across the country AND our daily work lives in our permanent site—but both are hectic and exhausting. Agourai was like a brief reprieve from everything else. The feeling of walking into our host family’s home is just like the feeling of walking into our real parents’ homes in Washington State. We know we’re entering a place of love and comfort.

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Yours Truly,

Robert & Julie

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