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4/17/09 To-ing and Fro-ing

Today was a nice, full day, and I thought I'd share it with y'all.

7:00 Wake up. Go back to sleep.

8:00 Wake up. Stay up.

8:01 Remember that my butagaz ran out yesterday, and thanks to the strike, there were no full buta tanks to be had, and that I therefore won't have hot water for cocoa, laundry, dishwashing, etc.

8:02 Discover that my toilet, which has been slooooow ever since a mouse drowned in it (and I just flushed it down, rather than extract its bloated little mousy corpse and think of another way to dispose of it) is now completely blocked.

8:03 Do laundry. Heat up water with electric hot pot (which blows the circuit breaker every 5-15 seconds, which is why this is not a good system) and then say forget it, I'm using the rubber gloves anyway.

9:00 Hang laundry on the roof.

9:15 Count soccer jerseys and sort into bundles of 10.

9:30 Go to "Fatima's" house. Feed her cat. Look for toilet plunger. (Unsuccessful.)

9:45 Buy toilet plunger in souq for 14 dh. Probably a ripoff, but I'm not in the mood to haggle.

10:00 Meet with the Middle School English teacher to discuss tomorrow's soccer tournament. And life in Morocco. And employment opportunities in America and Morocco. And racism in America, France, and Morocco.

12:00 Go home. Plunge toilet. It now flows free as the Father of Waters (anyone get that? please?), lhumdullah. Encouraged by success, plunge shower drain (which hasn't worked in the year I've lived here - one reason I rarely shower. The lack of hot water is a bigger reason). It works! I now have TWO functioning drains in my bathroom! This is very exciting.

12:30 Pick up miskota (coffee cake) and bring it to my host family's house, where I partake of couscous lunch, my favorite Friday tradition. :)

2:00 Go home. Pick up full butagaz tank en route, but don't bother installing it. Clean frantically, because Ama is coming over soon. There's a chance we'll just meet up at my doorway and then head to the sbitar (medical clinic), but she'll probably come up...

2:30 I hear a knock at the door just as I finish sweeping the front hall. I hastily shovel the mountain of tracked-in dirt into the dustpan, flick the broom over the remnants to scatter any visible dirt into the anonymity of my mudbrick floor, and run down to welcome Ama.

2:32 Give Ama tour of my house. She raves over most of it, especially the pictures of my family (thanks, Dad!), and makes a few adjustments to the decor. Notably, she thinks the top of my TV looks naked, so she puts a flag* in my favorite mug** and sets it next to the satellite box.

3:00 Ama and I visit the sbitar. She's in the 7th month of her pregnancy, so she had some bloodwork done in SouqTown a week or two ago. The results were sent up to her on yesterday's tranzit (the first tranzit to run in a week, because of the transportation strike), so now she's taking them to the doctor for interpretation. She asked me to look them over while we were waiting for lunch; they're in French, so legible to me, but even though I know what the words *are* in English, I don't know what 90% of it *means*. What's a hemoglobin, anyway? At the sbitar, Ama was very disappointed to discover that the doctor was in. Counter-intuitive, no? Being a traditional Berber woman, Ama infinitely prefers to visit with the female nurse-midwife. Fortunately, the nurse came in halfway through our visit, and Ama happily followed her back to the OB/GYN ward for her examination. All is well, but the doctor prescribed some routine pregnancy supplements.

3:45 I go to the pharmacy to pick up the supplements for Ama. The pharmacy is right in the heart of downtown, so Ama never goes there. Most Berberville women avoid downtown, for that matter. Of course, I live half a block from downtown, but fortunately, there are back-znqt (alley) paths that sneak past the city center to allow Ama and my other female friends to slip up to my door. The pharmacist is still at lunch/siesta. I walk back to where Ama is waiting for me, by the preschool, and tell her that I'll try the pharmacy again later, and then bring her the prescription.

4:00 Back home. :) Set up the butagaz tank, cook the zucchini bread whose dough has been sitting in the oven for 36 hours (which involves re-lighting the oven every three minutes for the first half-hour, at which point it settles down obediently), heat water, wash dishes, make a pot of cocoa, check email, check zucchini bread, check email, check zucchini bread, check email, try first batch of zucchini bread - big success!

5:00 Wrap up second batch of zucchini bread. Head to pharmacy. Hand pharmacist prescription. He asks (in Tam), "Are these for you?" I say no, they're for my host mom. He clarifies which, of the 58 women in town who share her name, she actually is, and then fills the prescription.

5:15 Deliver bread, meds, and April rent to Ama. She asks me to verify how often she's supposed to take the meds, so I pore over the French fine print. I burst out laughing. Ama wants to know what's so funny. "This medicine is for women who are pregnant," I explain. "The pharmacist asked if it was for me. He thought I was pregnant! Hshuma! I'm not married!" We both chuckle. Then, after a beat: "You did explain that it was for me, right?" Ama asks, sounding a bit worried. "I did, lhumdullah," I reassure her.

5:30 The kids get home from school, accompanied by Baba. We all share the zucchini bread. Ama asks for the recipe, and is shocked to discover that you can put xodart (vegetables) into Helawa (sweets). It took a while to find the word she for zucchini, though, since the one I learned - kurjet - she doesn't recognize. I try to sketch them out with my hands, explain that it's a green vegatable (which there aren't many of, here - I live in a land without broccoli or spinach), and she finally says, "Taghsayat?" Squash? "Yes!" I agree. I hadn't realized that the word was so flexible. There's orange taghsayat, which is pumpkin, the yellow taghsayat, which I'd call squash, and now a green taghsayat, zucchini. "Yeah, I saw some of those in your kitchen," she said, pleased with her deductive skills.

6:00 I head home, tired but happy. :)

* My latest package from home featured 3 small American flags. Not knowing what to do with them, I displayed them prominently on my tea-shelf (the eye-level rack on the north wall of my kitchen).

** The mug features a cow in bas-relief, complete with an emerging head which serves as the handle. I bought it to give to my cow-loving sister, but figured I'd use it for the many months till I see her. Then I cat-sat, and the visiting kitty knocked it to the ground. It now has several hairline fractures, so I'm scared to pour boiling water into it, lest it shatter...but I still love it, so I had it perched on top of my tea supplies, in the kitchen. It's purely decorative now (sigh), so Ama's use of it to enhance my TV aesthetics is entirely appropriate.

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