When we first arrived in Azrou two weeks ago, we pulled up to the Cedar Cafe and sat down to wait for our host families to pick us up. We had no idea we would be sitting in the same place, dozens of times, over the next two weeks. Most days we end up congregating at the cafe three times, each time ordering from our favorite waiter. He smiles and waves as we approach the cafe, greeting us in English as we try to speak in Darija. He asks us how we’re doing and guesses our orders. Back at home it took me three years of high school, visiting the same Dunkin Donuts multiple times a day, for the barista to know my order, but in ten days our waiter at the Cedar Cafe nails it every time. Today we learned that his name is Mohammed. Amidst the spontaneity and irregularity of our days in Azrou, Mohammed and the Cedar Cafe have been our constant and I’m going to miss them when we leave.
On one of our first nights in Azrou I attended a baby naming ceremony. There were over a hundred women in the small room. Loud music was playing and small children were coming up to me and tugging on my traditional dress that my sister gave me. I did not know the dance that everyone was doing, but I was still dragged into the center of the room with everyone watching me. The ceremony was overwhelming but exciting, and now I have a few more dance moves up my sleeve!
Izzy and I have been working with a women’s rug weaving cooperative as part of our Independent Study Project. My teacher, Fatiha, has been unbelievably patient with me as I stumble along the basic stitches. She often completes an entire row of the rug in the time it takes me to do a few stitches, and waits until I’m done to clap and marvel at my work. My favorite part of every session is when the tea is brought out. All of the women drop their work and gather at a single loom to sit in a circle. Izzy and I eat our cookies and listen to the women have heated discussions in Darija. It’s amazing.