Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Last week, my mom came to Morocco to visit me! It was super exciting, and not just because she brought me some damn pants that fit. She was in Morocco for a week and we spent the first half to the trip in Kalaa so she could meet my host family and my students and see my souq and my medina and my Dar Šabab. That meant Mom would be staying at my apartment, and when she booked her tickets in January, I said something about huh, maybe I should furnish my home before then. We both laughed.

Fast-forward a month and a half to last week, when we were talking about her trip and I again mentioned my need to buy some damn furniture already. She stopped me and said she didn’t want me to do anything in preparation for her. She didn’t want me to dread her visits because they meant cleaning or other work. Translation: I know you’re a failboat at being a real grownup and keeping house. I love you anyways.

I reassured her that I would never dread her visiting because that meant cleaning because, well, I will just not clean. (We all remember the first time my parents visited my first post-college apartment, which was a) still unpacked, despite having moved in two months prior and b) a crazy junk everywhere, path through the living room, can’t see the table style mess. In my defense, I moved, started work, immediately caught bronchitis (from my boss) but didn’t have any sick days so had to continue going to work, and by the time I had the energy to possible unpack a month later, my apartment had reached daunting levels of mess. My parents spent the weekend helping me clean and unpack, so clearly I feel no overwhelming compulsions to clean before a visit. Maybe I should.) However, I told her, as you can see by looking as this picture of my apartment that I drew for class last week, the only place to sit in my apartment is on the bed. If you want to eat breakfast sitting at a table, I have some furniture to buy.

I have been slowly filling up my apartment since I moved in two months ago. I started with my bedroom and then moved on to my kitchen, but I left the living room empty because I didn’t know how far my move-in allowance would stretch and living room furniture is below a bed and dishes on the list of necessities. Plus, my empty living room made a great place to dump crap when I walked in the door. Also, I’m really lazy. However, last Monday, less than a week before Mom arrived, I told my host mother that I needed to buy some furniture. She immediately leaped into action.

“Because you mom is coming, inshallah?” she asked.

I nodded. “America is very far away. I need a sofa when she comes.”

“Today is souq day!” she told me. “You can buy all your furniture at souq for very cheep. When do you want to go? Let’s go now!”

We walked to souq, my town’s weekly market, where in rapid order I bought two ponjs (giant cushions that serve as couches), two plastic rugs (those are a thing here) and a table. My host mom kept asking me if I wanted to get anything else, and I kept telling her I can’t, I’m out of money. We loaded my purchases onto a horse cart and rode back to my apartment, sitting atop the ponjs like a super comfortable hayride.

I spent the rest of Monday sweeping and mopping and generally organizing, and I’m so happy with how my apartment looks. I’m not done furnishing the apartment. There are a lot of things that fall into the I-don’t-know-where-this-goes-so-now-it-goes-here category, and I want somewhere to dump the piles on the floor. I want an oven and some shelves for my kitchen, and a chair for my roof, and dear God, I need to decorate, but now my apartment looks like someone actually lives here instead of just squatting in the back room.

Kitchen Kitchen
My kitchen. The gas tank fuels the stove and the blue bins hold food and dishes. Also, a close up of my spices and dry goods. I mostly keep them in old jam jars my tutor gave me.

Living Room Roof
My living room. The cushions are called ponjs and I need to buy covers for them so they don't get stained. My apartment has a private balcony/roof (it's a balcony for my apartment, but it's the same level as the public roof for the building). Right now, I mostly do my laundry out there, but I want to get a table and a small garden.

IMG_0185 IMG_0186
My bedroom. The bed is a loan from my host family. The small rug next to my bed is the handmade rug I bought at Marche Maroc. My bookshelf/dresser is the only part of my apartment that is currently decorated, and that fan will cease to be decorative real damn soon.

The bathroom. No toilet, no shower, just a tap, a bucket and a hole in the ground.


  1. Be happy your kitchen is functioning. I was in Fes at a friend's very large dar (but not the expensive kind that rents rooms) and have no idea if the kitchen didn't work or what the problem was. They made me and a friend a wonderful meal using the tap in the squat to wash the veggies, etc. Luckily I lived through it without mishap!
    Enjoying your blog!

  2. My water works about three-fourths of the time. It usually cuts out when I'm doing dishes, which suits me just fine since I'm always looking for an excuse to walk away from cleaning. :)

  3. Maybe you could fill your bucket or a dishpan with water, a splash of bleach and just let them soak? At least they would be disinfected even if the water stops working. You could always dry them off when they've soaked. I will say that the one thing about the USA I would miss if I ever get to move would be my dishwasher. And paper plates.