Morocco, as you may have guessed it, hosts quite a different culture than that of the US, or any other place I have been. While I’ve only been here just over a week, I thought I’d share some of the immediate (and more laughable) culture shocks.
- The Call To Prayer. Also known as Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer plays loudly throughout the city five times a day- dawn, at the midday, about the middle of the afternoon, just after sunset, and at night fall about two hours after. It’s eerie. And beautiful. The song wakes me up some mornings at dawn. Take a listen.
- Bathing with a bunch of naked women. Traditional Moroccan-style homes are not equipped with showers. Why? Because Moroccans bathe at Turkish-style bath houses called Hammams. Just once a week, men and women make an occasion of going to the Hammam where you bathe naked, chatting and gossiping, with a bunch of other people in sauna-like steam rooms with buckets of water. I actually really liked the experience (it’s spa-like) and after scrubbing off a whole layer of dead skin, have never felt so clean in my life. Needless to say though, hanging out naked with people I know was strange at first.
- Not getting my own plate. Moroccans eat family-style. But actually, none of that Buca-di-Bepo shit. Food is served on one large platter and everyone gets their own utensils (if that) to dig in. Oh, and speaking of,
- Eating with my hands. Out of these family-style dishes, food is often eaten by hand (not always, depends on the dish). You get a giant hunk of bread (aka hubz) and rip it into small pieces with which to grab the food. It’s kind of fun and cool, although I’ve consumed ungodly amounts of carbs since arriving .
- The Turkish Toilet. Turkish toilets are traditional and although many families have switched to the modern Western toilets, my host family uses this style, where you have to squat to do your business. Let me tell you… I never thought that I would have to learn how to aim my pee. Your feet go on those little groovy-things on the sides. They are connected to a modern sewage system, but must be flushed manually with a bucket of water (There’s actually arguments that this type is more sanitary- considering your booty doesn’t touch anything). It’s different, but nothing I can’t deal with.
- Playing Cinderella… We were warned that in Moroccan homes, families wash their laundry by hand and hang it out to dry. When my family was out (for fear of anyone walking in on my dirty clothes & underwear), I thought it a good idea to get a start and found the laundry sink and drying lines on our roof. After an hour of Sunday Night Laundry: Morocco Edition, aka hand-washing and hanging to dry all my clothing, I poked around the kitchen to discover that my host fam actually does have a small washing machine… I underestimated them. Morocco: 1, Ella: 0.
What an interesting first week it has been. There probably will be many more silly culture shocks to share, but we’ll leave it here for now.
Ila al-liqa, or “until next time”, my curious-minded friends,