“Call me Ishmael,” he said, sticking out his hand for me to shake. Actually he said, “Je m’appelle IsmaÏl,” which is virtually the same thing without the literary allusion. Our new landlord is often visible when we stop by with another load of cases or kitchen items. He goes out of his way to be helpful, asserting that we’re family now. “You can use my car now, and I’ll use yours later, when you get one,” he jokes, elbowing Donn in the ribs. We laugh, a bit nervously. He planted small red lilies and white freesias and geranium and verveine in all the boxes round our second floor home.

He tells us of a new store in town, Carrefour, the first Carrefour in Morocco, and generously offers to take us there, since taxis don‘t run out that far. We used to shop at Carrefour in France and now occasionally in Spain; it is a sort of a Target with grocery store, like a Fred Meyer for all you Oregonians out there. We were all excited when they opened last week in Salé, Rabat’s sister city just across the river, but soon heard wild tales of the hordes going to check it out. A friend tried to go on a Saturday morning at 9:30 and couldn’t get near the front door; there were riot police in full gear with dogs, and barriers helping form people into a haphazard line. Another friend told me of ambulances standing by to help people who fainted in the crush and excitement. The reason for all this anticipation? IsmaÏl wove stories for us; a free TV if you buy a fridge, any third item free if you buy two, a car on offer. Wow. No wonder the crowds were fierce.

Ismail loaded Donn, Ilsa and I into his car last Thursday and we set off for Salé, we brave, we intrepid few, the first of our circle of friends to venture inside. But when we got there, it was no worse than the Target at Washington Square in December–busy, yes, even packed, but the police looked bored. People had a hard time figuring out the barrier system, but soon we were inside.

It was very nice and new and big and a wee bit disappointing, since I was all about getting a free TV but the salesman laughed when we asked him about it. We looked around a bit but found that Carrefour in Morocco is a lot like other stores in Morocco, rather than being a tiny bit of France.

Afterwards, IsmaÏ took us on a little tour. “You’ve never been to the Tour de Hassan?” he asked in shock. “But you must see it!” A storm was blowing in from the sea, and the temperature had dropped nearly 20 degrees in about an hour. We wandered round, shivering in short sleeves, admiring the beautiful mausoleum and the guards on horseback in their colorful uniforms. Neither of us had cameras with us.

***

Today it’s a week later. The storm has stayed with us, and it’s cold and grey and wet. The rain gusts against the windows in sheets; sudden downpours show how well constructed our new house is.

We are in the process of getting settled. I’m sitting on a mattress on the floor in my new bedroom, leaning back against two new pillows. Around me is empty tile. Out the French doors in my room, I can see our tiled balcony and the pink geraniums in the planter.

We have no furniture as of yet. Some of this is our fault–we haven’t decided on a couch yet. Some of this is due to the furniture store not delivering our beds as promised. We had to borrow mattresses from friends. We do have major appliances, including a new stove for me that I am very excited about. (We sold our old one; when moving internationally it is cheaper and often easier to just buy new. Not to mention, it is always fun to get new appliances)

We hope to have furniture soon. In the meantime, the kids crowd onto Elliot’s mattress to watch a movie on the laptop. Donn and I spend our afternoons wandering Rabat; buying tubing to connect the stove, deciding on a couch and dining room table, choosing an ironing board and a drying rack. My feet ache, but I’m content at nights as I snuggle down under a new comforter on my borrowed mattress. It has been a long time, but it’s happening at last–we are making a home here.

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