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June 3, 2008 …Marvelous Night for a Moondance…

This song is stuck in my head. Partly because “August Rush” was a gorgeous movie (with a fantabulous cast), but mostly because the nights here in Morocco are breathtaking. The air is dry, the nights are cold – especially here, in the Atlas mountains! – and cloudless nights are common. The stars (itran) are brilliant, and the moon is breathtaking. Ayoor – moon – is actually one of the very first words I learned outside of the classroom, and it was because I was so struck by its beauty that I asked my host sister-in-law—repeatedly—what it was. Itar (star) wasn’t far behind.

It took longer to learn the word for planet – kawkub – just because I couldn’t explain to my host family what I meant. When I tried to explain what I wanted, my very well-intentioned host family first gave me the list of months (since I’d mentioned “Mars”, which means March in French), then the word for star again, and when I finally drew a picture of the sun with the nine orbiting bodies, they gave me the names for the seven heavens. I gave up and asked H** the next day in class.

It’s rather embarrassing, really, for a former planetary scientist to be unable to explain the concept of a planet. I plead language barriers. And maybe educational ones; I’m not sure anyone in my first host family had had enough schooling to have learned the nine planets. But, yeah, it’s still a little embarrassing. Maybe one of the reasons I like my adopted name so much – Kawtar – is that it helps me be sure I’ll never forget the word for planet. Another semi-homonym of my name is kawkaw (peanut). (And my host family already uses that as a nickname for me, from time to time. :) ) Peanut butter almost doesn’t exist in Morocco (there’s a chance you can find it at one of the six marjan (superstores) in the six biggest cities, but that’s it), but peanuts themselves are common. I’ve had them plain, salt-roasted, and sugared. I have no idea what they do to make sugared peanuts – they also end up turning pink – but it’s fabulous. It’s like the offspring of a cross between peanuts and rock candy. :)

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