Week 1 Blog Post – Noah Huffman

My eyes drooped at the midnight table as my head sagged close to my steaming ceramic bowl and loaf of khubz. I carefully checked the watch on my wrist, not to wanting question my family’s hospitality. A quarter past twelve. I sighed to myself, completely exhausted. Picking up my spoon with the dexterity of a toddler, I began to move the lentil soup from the bowl into my mouth. Half-asleep, my spoon scraped the bottom, collecting the last drops of food. The sound was like an alarm to my host-mom as she quickly eyed me. “More?” she asked, speaking in indecipherable Darija. “No, thank you” I gestured, moving my hand from my mouth to my heart. I wasn’t so much hungry as I was parched, relying solely on the rare water bottle, mint tea, and cloyingly sweet coffee to quench my thirst. As the night grew, the house seemed to become more alive. Out of the heat of the sun, children ran around and the women sat and gossiped among themselves. There was always something to be doing and never time to rest. My host-mom was almost constantly a presence in the kitchen, making food or tea, and when she wasn’t, she was cleaning the home. I wanted to ask if I could do anything, but I knew my help wouldn’t be accepted. For Moroccans, there was always time to eat, but it seemed like there was never time to digest. While I wanted to remain present and socialize and try out my limited Arabic, I also needed to do homework and get some rest. Exploring the Fes Medina had worn me out in addition to my already going to classes and becoming accustomed to a new culture. But when the call of the muezzin shook the house at four o’clock each morning, I realized that sleep wasn’t in the Moroccan dialect. My family never skipped a meal or a prayer, but foregoing bed was a habit. Maybe there was something in the tea that kept them vigilant; but, whatever it was, it hadn’t been passed on to me.

One morning as I stepped out of the bathroom, I was met by the sight of my host-brother, Wafi, corralling a sheep into the living room. He explained to me that he bought it at the market for the celebration of his newly born daughter— a gathering I was invited to attend the following day. It is customary for Muslims to perform sacrifice seven days after the birth of a child if they can. They call it an aqiqah. The celebration included traditional music and dance and mass quantities of food and mint tea. They had invited their neighbors, relatives, and other good friends, all packed in together in a small room. The men and women wore their djellabas and the house was decorated in pink and white lace. As the music reached the height of its intensity, Wafi and another man flipped the sheep onto its back. Wafi brandished a knife and slit the animal through its throat. Blood pooled on the tile floor and the guests cheered and the music roared. At the lunch which followed, I asked Wafi what they decided to name their daughter. “Ghita,” he told me. The only thing I could think was how it would be impossible for any Westerner to ever say her name. Unlike our names in the West, Arabic names are full of meaning and history. Many people have the same name because their parents want the connotation of the name to be passed onto their child. It was clear that tradition ruled each facet of the Moroccan lifestyle. It flowed through every bustling street and narrow alley. It permeated the towering mosques and the tiled homes. It was a tradition of faith, a tradition of longstanding culture. That’s what it meant to be Moroccan, and if I wanted to learn, there would be no time for sleep.


The table setting from the aqiqah

12 comments to Week 1 Blog Post – Noah Huffman

  • Denyse

    Fascinating. This blog helped see and feel and taste Morocco. I feel I learned more about the place from this blog than any fact-packed guide book could teach me. This writer has an eye, a taste, an ear and an open heart of a writer. Can’t wait for the next one!

  • GH

    Very nicely written. Great imagery and detail. Makes me look forward to visiting Morocco!

  • I’m enjoying reading about Morocco through your eyes, with the perfect balance of description and factual information. This will be such a treasure for you and your family for years to come! If I had to suggest anything, it would be to include more photos of your adventures in your blog. The table setting is exquisite!

  • Heidi

    It’s very meaningful–and enjoyable–to experience Morocco from your viewpoint. Your descriptive writing combined with factual information makes for good reading. I would love if you incorporated more of your photos in this blog!

  • Linda pellerin

    Very interesting, Noah. So much to learn. You have a flare for writing. Enjoy your time there.

  • Lily

    Lovely imagery. Cool to see an honest take on what it’s like to live and study abroad!

  • Anne

    So interesting! Would this table setting and amount of food be typical for special occasions only, or is it set so nicely for daily meals as well?

  • Nancy L. Wolf

    Noah – your blog post is full of such vivid details that we can see, hear and maybe even smell the scenes you are describing. Sounds like an amazing experience for you. Keep the posts coming; maybe not the sheep though.

    Nancy W. (friend of your Mom’s)

  • Nola

    Good writing. You make Fes come alive. It sounds fascinating.

  • Anonymous

    Great writing, Noah. You made your experiences in Fes come alive.
    it sounds fascinating.

  • Mae

    You’ve captured your thoughts with such vivid, enchanting details. Very excited to hear about what else you learn!! Go you!!

  • Mae

    You’ve captured your thoughts with such vivid, enchanting details. Extremely excited to hear about what else you learn!! Go you!!

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