Our week has been filled with mundane activities to put together the things that are necessary for modern life to run smoothly; visits to furniture and appliance stores, to phone and electric companies (HEY YOU GUYS!), etc. These have been a funny mix of easy-peasy and just too complicated.
For example, yesterday afternoon in the space of 2 hours we got water, electricity, and a phone line. This is nothing short of amazing. Additionally, this was on a Friday afternoon in a Muslim country. (Friday is the Muslim holy day, and in Mauritania, most people didn’t go back to work after a visit to the mosque, so it felt very strange to have a productive afternoon)
We’d heard that the elec/water company was closed till 1. But when we went at 1:10, we found a sign that said it was closed till 2. We live in between two offices, and at 2 we headed to the other, only to be told it opened at 3. Sigh. Without much hope, we headed down towards the phone company. It turned out they were open.
We went back at 3 and stood at the edge of the throng of people waiting outside for the door in the wall to open. At 3 or so, it creaked open a crack, and a man began handing out slips of paper with numbers on them. Those in front of us were most considerate in making sure we got one.
We got into a long conversation with the man who opens the new accounts about accents, around the US and around Morocco. To our amusement, in the middle of speaking French, he said in English, “l’accent Cockney. Bo’l. Bo‘l.” (The word “bottle” with a glottal stop). According to him, those from Fes do something similar with their Arabic. It was a most enlightening conversation, in the middle of which a tiny child wandered up to us, climbed on my knee, and did her best to grab the computer monitor off the desk. She couldn’t have been more than one. Eventually she tired of me and wandered off, and I watched another bystander, wearing the same charmed smile as I had, stop her from breaking a cabinet door. Her mother finished paying her bill and collected her child and they left. I thought again of how safe children are here in so many ways, where everyone just naturally takes their part in corralling and guiding and adoring. In general, Moroccans love children, and one of my favorite sights is a family with a fat dark-curled toddler and everyone fussing around her.
The man initially told us we would have to wait till Monday for service, which didn’t surprise us–it was 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. But then he made a phone call, and voila! Service was installed that very night. Impressive.
The furniture shops were a bit more stressful. We went to the local IKEA knock-off (KITEA! Isn’t that a strikingly different name?) and another place and picked out stuff last week. Actually buying those things proved to be more complicated. The items weren’t available anymore, or they only had a very scratched up floor model for full price, or the items could be ordered and paid for but might not show up, or the bill might not match the prices listed in the store. Nothing could be done; so sorry. Sigh. Right now we have the major appliances, already delivered (!!!), but no furniture. The beds were supposed to show up today but didn’t. That’s okay for tonight, but not for tomorrow night, when we will potentially be sleeping on cold hard tile floors. We have no furniture. But we will, and very soon too.
I’m so glad the kids are on vacation now. It’s nice not to have to worry about missed schoolwork and lost books. We are actually mostly moved out of this place, and tomorrow night (assuming at least the mattresses show up) we’ll be at the new place! Can’t wait.