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5/11/08 Mothers’ Day, aka our last full day in our CBT villages

The day started with a trip to our souk town to buy going away presents for my family. I’d hoped to get one big gift for the family--a playpen for the baby--but that didn’t work out, so I went with individual presents instead. I gave two scarves – one dark pink and one navy blue – to Sis-in-Law, mostly because she’s always been so sweet to me. Mma got a lovely black scarf with a subtle black rose embroidered at the corners. Little Sis got a pearl grey scarf with an embroidered pink rose. (Her choice.) I wanted to give her colored pencils, but there were no open bookstores/papershops in town. Little Bro and the baby both got tomobiles (cars). Little Bro’s is remote controlled, and the batteries are already fading. Bummer. I also got the baby an adorable little outfit that he’ll fit and/or grow into, inshallah. The gift I’m the happiest with is the drbouka for Middle Bro. Ever since I saw him rocking the rhythms on a table, I’ve wanted to give him a drum. Ideally, it’ll be a gift for the whole family; they’re such a dance-y, musical bunch that I think having a drum and drummer will be a source of joy for many evenings to come.

The buying and giving didn’t go quite how I’d intended, but this is a country without Christmas, and I’m not sure how birthdays work, so I’m willing to be flexible about that. Sitting here, I realize that I do possess the language skills – vocabulary, grammar, and syntax – to be able to say, “If you were buying a drum, which would you choose?” But when I was standing in the shop, all I could come up with was “Whatever you want” – Aynna trit – so Middle Bro knew from the get-go that it was for him. But that’s really not so bad. And he did give me a big Shukran! (Thank you!) as he tucked it under his arm and rattled out a walking-along beat for us.

This morning’s walk into the town – about 5 km – was as beautiful as I’d hoped. Gorgeous sunlight and skies, gorgeous flowers blooming everywhere, gorgeous countryside. One of the photos I took looks like an 18th (19th?) century landcape painting, and not due to any skill of mine – this place is just lovely. One picture I’ve shot repeatedly but never captures the effect is the view of the fields from the top of the bluff. You walk and walk along this rocky soil, and then a velvet green, lush valley appears, first as a sliver between this cliff and the matching one across the river, and then as a broader and broader swath of verdant life. It’s such a miracle, this recklessly spendthrift oasis of grasses and trees and flowers and vegetables. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, it always feels unexpected, like a surprise pary or an unannounced visit from an old friend. It’s the gift of life to this village – my village – and I’m always grateful for the sight of it.

Today I got to stroll through the fields, brushing my fingertips along the sheaves of barley, ducking the bamboo leaves, dodging the muddy patches underfoot. I took pictures as I fancied – I think my most frequent word of today was “Blatti” – wait – but a photograph can’t capture the experience of the sun shimmering on the poplar leaves or turning the tumbling river into angel-white sprays. I can’t shoot the coos of the mourning doves or the chatter of the sparrows. Pictures of the storks only show long-limbed flight, not the majestic circling of those enormous creatures as they drift across the countryside or lower themselves delicately onto a mosque-topping nest.

My brothers and sisters are happy to pose for me, but I always manage to get them blinking or mid-word, so their beauty looks like heavy-lidded ordinary-ness. So maybe it's for the best that I haven't figured out how to post photos yet... There's so much more to Morocco than I can photograph. :)

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