Today is the day that Muslims celebrate the birthday of their prophet, which means it‘s a holiday here in North Africa. It is a beautiful spring day, complete with fresh breezes and sunny skies, and I’ve brought the laptop out onto my tiled balcony and am admiring the view of the avocado tree in bloom.
We are still waiting to have our own internet, but (glances around nervously) just between you, me, and everyone in the world with an internet connection, we’re piggybacking onto a neighbour’s. As my sister-in-law put it, nowadays even in the wilds you can find an unprotected wi-fi signal. And Rabat is far from the wilds. Ours was supposed to be hooked up last Thursday.
We also have beds. The furniture store finally delivered them on Saturday, a mere week late. This is how it happened: when they didn’t deliver them the first Saturday, we called and were assured they would come Sunday. On Monday, it was “tomorrow, tomorrow, no problem, for sure.” On Thursday, we got a call, telling us our beds would be here that evening. On Friday, two delivery men showed up with 2 twin mattresses, which was not even half of our order (4 beds; 4 mattresses). Finally on Saturday, everything arrived and was set up. And we’re happy. (I do realize this is more detail than you wanted, but remember, you can always skim.)
Our washing machine is working! It came with a sticker: now with less noise, less vibration. Instead, it loudly danced all over the kitchen, nearly unplugging itself in its wild undulations, rattling the windows and scaring our landlord’s mother, who lives below us. It couldn’t be used. We called the store, which said, “Did you take the four pins out of the back?” “Call you right back,” said Donn. Sure enough; that was the problem. Now it runs quietly and smoothly; it purrs away, spinning at 1200 rotations per second or whatever it is, beeping discreetly to let me know when it‘s finished. It really is a most polite machine.
The new stove came without a plug. It’s a gas oven, but has an electric lighter, and lighting the oven proved to be really complicated when I tried to make pizza the other night. Donn, who is brilliant like this, installed a plug. We spend hours walking through the markets of Takkadoum or the Medina, having keys made, buying plugs for stoves and tubs in which to wash dishes, etc. I’m glad today is a holiday; it’s nice to know that everything is closed so I have to just relax. Tomorrow the kids go back to school.
Saturday, the entire family went to the medina, looking for light fixtures (adults) and ways to spend birthday money (kids). We wandered into Aladdin’s caves full of brass and tin lanterns in rainbow colours, piled haphazardly on shelves and hanging in levels from overhead timbers.
Our new place didn’t even come with light bulbs; stripped wires dangle from our freshly-painted, ornate ceiling. (There was one light bulb in the place, but the landlord asked if he could have it back.) So far, we’ve only gotten one fixture, but doesn’t it look nice?
Here is an angle that shows off the ceiling a bit better:
We walked through the medina, which is a small city of winding alleyways and shops, visiting the corners that sell rugs and the local couches, called froshes, and tables. Late Saturday afternoon, and it’s beginning to get packed. Ilsa bought herself a meter of crushed green velvet. Oh yeah. The kids bought paper cones full of piping hot, sugar-covered mini doughnuts for about 25 cents…
and I shot pictures of eels splayed out to entice passers-by.
Who wants sting-ray for supper? Kids? Anyone?
Abel got a gun. He’s been wanting one for a while. In the medina, there are all sorts of decorative swords and daggers and rifles, carved and inlaid and embellished, not to mention very very rusty, and my kids’ eyes grow big as they consider and weigh and attempt to bargain the merchants down. We roll our eyes but let them enjoy it; part of the freedom kids get when they grow up in Africa, enjoying a childhood more like their own grandparents had in what is becoming an increasingly uptight America.