Ssalamu 3alaykum! It’s Hadley and Esha, and today was our second day in our homestay in Azrou. After our eventful although chaotic first day getting settled, we were ready to get to know our host families a little better.
Our host family is big. We have three host sisters: Oamari, who is sixteen (right around our age!), Hiba, who is thirteen, and an adorable nine-month infant named Zaineb. We have a host brother, Atman, who is ten years old. Both of our host parents are merchants who sell clothes and scarves.
We started the morning at 10am, where we met up with the group and had a discussion on women and gender in Islam, led by our home-stay coordinator, Aisha. We talked about what the Quran says about women, as well as women’s roles and feminist movements specific to Morocco. We also learned to count from 1-20 in Arabic thanks to Badr. We played bingo with the numbers and Esha won.
At around 2pm, we returned to our homestays and got ready to go to the souk – a huge weekly market. The souk starts at 4am with people coming from all over the region to sell livestock, produce, clothes and knickknacks, ending at around 5pm. In Azrou, souk day is every week on Tuesdays. Although it was pretty hot, Hadley and I went with our host mom, Hiba, and host brother, Atman, to the market, and it was like nothing we’ve ever seen before! From used computers to onions to perfumes, this market made up of tents, was teeming with life. We got to learn some great Arabic for fruits and vegetables, too.
Coming back from the souk, Hadley and I hung out with our host siblings as our host mom did our henna. Then we went out to explore with our host sister, Hiba. We met all her friends at a park close by and practiced our Arabic introductions. We quickly had to run back to the house to check in with our leaders. We spent time getting to know the children of the neighborhood and bonded over our mutual love of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. Yep, even half-way across the world everyone is obsessed with her.
We ended the day tired from walking around all of Azrou with Hiba and her friends. We had french fries and Moroccan tacos for dinner, watched some Sherlock with our host sisters, and fell asleep excited for our hike up the mountain tomorrow! The host family experience has been incredible, and we are only just getting started!