If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
-Mother Teresa

February 12, 2008

That's when I noticed...

Last Tuesday I woke up to the howl of a windstorm burning its fearless path over the mountains towards our little town. It’s the sort of wind that launches pieces of trash hundreds of feet up in the air so that you mistake them for birds tumbling about in the gale. It’s the sort of wind that propels me up to the open expanse of the roof, coaxes my eyes closed, and convinces me that it’s actually the ocean waves of the Carolina’s. It’s the sort of merciless wind that permeates your pores and reeks of inescapable change. Yeah, it all started on Wednesday...

It's safe to say that every day that I've been in Morocco has felt like a test, but this last week has been the hardest hands down. Last Tuesday I woke up consumed with the issue of housing, and exhausted from lack of sleep (the wind had banged on the windows and doors all night). I had not been able to find a house by the February 1st deadline, and things were looking truly bleak. I kept looking disdainfully at my suitcases while I lay in my sleeping bag, as if it was the fault of the bags that I'd had to live out of them for almost six months and there was no end in sight. Meanwhile, the wind had brought an unwelcome bout of colder weather. Just as the almond blossoms were coming into full bloom, I found myself wearing a winter hat and gloves to bed again. The patience I had owned so willingly for so long now was slipping quickly and I couldn't even muster the desire to retrieve it.

So last week when three people in a row tried overcharging me for items I had previously paid less than half for, I really hit my limit. Unfortunately, the third person was my postman, and while I know he was in the wrong to charge me more than the sum of the stamps in front of me, I would have been well advised to back down for the sake of maintaining an ounce of social decency. In the end I "won" the argument, but I walked out of the post office feeling terrible about fighting over what amounted to 5 cents (you'll be happy to know that I didn't do that math until I was back at home). The wind punished me with tiny bits of dirt to the eyes all the way home.

The following day I found myself upset from the moment I rolled out of "bed". Perhaps it was the 20 minutes of continuous gunfire that rudely yanked me from my peaceful slumber (7:00 am is a great time of day to go boar hunting). Or, perhaps it was that I had left messages that hadn't been returned, hadn't showered in an embarrassing number of days, hadn't slept a full night in recent memory, and couldn't relax long enough to do my morning meditation. I went through the day literally forcing a smile on to my face and constantly telling myself that things would get better; they had to. The wind continued to bear down on us all, and I started to think it was not ever going away.

When we returned from the Nedi I found my mood much more tolerable, and I busied myself with making tea and a snack. I also received a call from Anny while I was preparing in the kitchen, and I was struck with how badly I simply needed to talk and be understood. But there was a knock at the door and some mild commotion, so I hung up and went to investigate. Before I could even inquire as to what all the fuss was about a friend from the Nedi standing in the doorway produced the cutest puppy I've ever seen (except for Lola, or course). It was for us! I was overjoyed; in fact I'm sure I clapped my hands, jumped up and down and squealed a number of times. I spent the next 20 minutes or so peeking in on the sleeping puppy, and planning out everything that was going to happen from here on out. Puppy was going to sleep in my room, I was going to make puppy some great food, I was going to teach puppy all sorts of tricks, we were definitely going to run through some fields together, and some day when I came back to visit Morocco he would run to me, tail wagging in recognition of his long lost friend Megan. The puppy montage in my mind was rudely interrupted by yet another knock at the door. Before I even knew what was happening, the puppy was being "repossessed" by the younger sibling of my friend. The puppy was crying on the way out the door. The wind was moaning through the cracks in the windows.

Then souk day comes along and I'm doing my best to recover from all that had happened recently and forget about my housing woes for at least one morning. We head down the hill bright and early to buy our veggies and fruits for the week, but as we approach the souk I immediately notice that something is different. I'm pondering this unexplained difference as we turn the corner to head towards our favorite produce guy. My feet stop before I even register why. There is no produce. None in sight. Not our guy's stall, or any other for that matter. People are standing around looking none too happy, and I have a feeling that we ought not stick around longer than we have to. Maybe it's the wind, I think to myself. But after stopping to talk to a few equally bewildered friends, we find out that there had been some disagreement between the local authorities and the stall owners over the cost of rent, and it didn't look to be resolved any time soon. No house, no food, no puppy, no patience... what's next?

Waves of realization of the magnitude of the food situation keep washing over me as I pick up a package from the post office (he's still angry at me) and head back home. When we get there I immediately head to my room and open the package that had a return address from Peace Corps. I tore off the brown packaging and found to my extreme delight and surprise a Snickers box. For a moment my heart (and taste buds) jumped. No! It couldn't be... could it? Could it possibly be a box full of Snickers? Why would PC send me a box of Snickers? As I opened the box I held out an amazing amount of irrational hope that there was actually chocolate inside; of course there wasn't.

Sunday comes along and I decide to take a day to myself. As the wind continues it's assault on the town, I curl up under a blanket and read a book for the better part of the day. Then I decide it's a perfect nap day and I do that too. When I wake up I feel slightly refreshed and start to prepare for my Monday cyber day. If nothing else, I knew I would be with fellow PCV's tomorrow and they would help me figure out a solution. With that in mind I watch of bit of "Tom & Jerry" with my host sister and call it a night early.

At 2 am I'm rudely awakened by pounding on the roof. No need to investigate, I know it's the wooden beam that supports the clothesline that's come undone. The wind is now steady at a good 40 mph and the gusts are rattling the walls of our cinderblock home; not good. I doze on and off until my alarm sounds at 5:45 to get me out of bed for my trip to my cyber town. The wind has not let up and I decide it's a bad idea to take a trip over a mountain in at bus in this weather. Besides, I don't want to get out of bed; my bags are reminding me again of all the things I want to forget.

The day goes on as any other day. We eat breakfast and marvel about the wind, we do housework and marvel about the wind, we eat lunch and marvel about the wind, we head on over to the Nedi and marvel about the wind. And just as I'm settling in work on some crocheting, a person appears through the door of the Nedi and says they have a house to show me. I blink a couple of times and stare blankly back at him. He repeats himself slowly and I jump out of my chair. "Let's go!" I shout, and we're off.

We head towards a huge expanse of a house and I'm looking for the shack that must be what he has in mind. But we head through the garden and courtyard of the mansion, locking and unlocking gates and doors, and before I know it I'm standing in a huge, new room with a fireplace, a sink and a hot water heater. "How much can you pay for it?" he asks as I try to comprehend what's just happened. And that's when I noticed that the wind had stopped.