Every Tuesday, I have a re-confirmation of my undying love for all that is souq day. For those who don't know, souq is the weekly market that many Moroccan towns host. My fervor is such today that I have to get it all out while it is still fresh in my mind (and under my fingernails).
Today's occurrences at souq:
1) While purchasing some black pepper (lbzar), I was approached by a salesman from a neighboring tent. We chatted pleasantries for awhile, and then he pulled me aside, learning I was a "volunteer." He explained to me that his father had a procedure done recently and that the poor fellow has a colostomy bag and isn't in the best health. I pretty much knew what he was getting at, so I played dumb for awhile, making him finally say that he needed a way to get some money and that any donation that I could spare would be welcomed. Instead of giving him $, I simply told him about Peace Corps, about why I'm here, and that it's not our job to supply people with money. I expressed my sympathy to his father, but he wasn't sour after my rejection. He actually invited me back to his place where he's from, and we parted ways in a true, warm, Moroccan way.
2) I enjoyed the company of one of our artisans, in my weekly indulgence of a ground beef sandwich with onions, cilantro, and cumin, grilled to perfection. The guy grilling the meat actually has a big hunk of cow hanging from a hook in open air and whenever he needs some more, he goes and slices some off, grinds it, and grills it right in front of your eyes. (One sign that I'm starting to adjust to my life here is that I wasn't grossed out when he - fingers and palms smeared with bits of meat and fat, reached into his pocket and made change for my 20 DH note). Me and said artisan also had an impromptu English lesson. A few days ago, he explained, in Darija, a way to say that the prices are really high at the souq. It roughly translates as, "There is a fire at the souq." However, looking for something a little more expressive, I opted to teach him instead, "THE SOUQ IS ON FIRE," which is his catch phrase now. He's awesome.
3) Talked with random friendly, if not gregarious, people that approach me (already knowing my name) and ask about any and all aspects of my life. In the US, I'd be annoyed, but here, I'm just glad to understand some of what they're saying to me! Of course, now, I'm starting to get heckled by people because I don't know Amazight (the Berber dialect here). ONE LANGUAGE AT A TIME, PEOPLE! It's a miracle that I'm even understanding Darija!
4) Bought a cool glass of orange drink (1 DH), that the juice man (mul 3asir) filled up with a ladle from a big pot of the chilled stuff. Taking a minute to savor it's saccharine goodness while surveying the crowds is a good way to take a break. Are the glasses washed after being used? The thought crossed my mind, but didn't faze me!
5) Bought some popcorn to munch on while doing some shopping. Other times, I opt for sugar peanuts, dates, cookies, or peanut bars (kinda like payday).