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2/6/10 ...and then there were none

Sorry for the long absence, friends; I spent some time traveling, and then brought friends back with me. I spent Friday night as part of a group of 7; a slightly rearranged 7 on Saturday night; Sunday night I was one of 3; and then came the 10-Little-Indians countdown game: Monday night 5, Tuesday 4, Wednesday 3, Thursday 2, and Friday it was just me.

In Culture Shock: Morocco, written primarily for expatriate Americans seeking to relocate to Morocco's wealthy cities, the author points out that success in a foreign land requires finding the right balance between being alone, being with other Americans, and being with Moroccans. (And of course, substitute folks from your own country of origin or country of residency if you're not an American in Morocco.)

He's right.

Maintaining that balance isn't easy, to be sure, but it is terribly important.

In my case, I find spending time with Americans - and, other than my two Fullbrighter friends and the odd tourist, that has always been PCVs - refreshes me. We have so much shared culture, so many shared expectations, that it's simply restful to be around them. I don't have to explain myself. I don't have to endure the swapped glances or murmurs that inevitably accompany my actions when I'm with Moroccans.

On the other hand, spending time with Moroccans keeps me focused on my work. It keeps me aware of the immense need for new knowledge, skills, and attitudes, and on how much I still have to do. Spending time with my host family keeps me conscious of how much I love these people, and how no bad encounter can ever make me paint "all Moroccans" with any broad strokes.

And spending time alone keeps me sane. I've always - from my earliest memories - cherished "alone time", and found sweet renewal in being quiet with my own thoughts. Here in Berberville, where community is cherished above all else, this usually requires me retiring into my house, pulling closed my steel door, and mentally raising the drawbridge.

This week, I've gotten to do all of these things. I spent the earlier days of the week in the company of PCV friends, eating western food and watching English-language movies and swapping stories. Later in the week, I took a PCV friend into the hammam, on a walk through town, and over to my host family's house, bridging the divide between my two worlds.

When I was once again the only PCV in Berberville, I spent more time with my host family and other Moroccan friends, and also spent lots of hours in the quiet stillness of my cement house, sometimes reaching out to old friends on the internet, other times simply reveling in my restored privacy.

Alone time ... American time ... Moroccan time. Like with a three-legged stool, removing any one causes a crashing imbalance. Some days, maintaining that balance feels like walking a tightrope; this week, it's like strolling down to my lake (on a broad, paved road).

1 comment:

  1. Sorry that getting clean has been so difficult. Just know that when you get home, the hot water heater won't run out...


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