Today I went to lunch at my friend Rebha’s place, a good friend of mine in town. I met her through her daughter Houda, who I went on a field trip with during my first month in town last year. I feel at home at Rebha’s and love to spend time sitting on a plastic stool next to the oven watching her cook. She’s one of the people who tries her best to communicate with me and facilitate my understanding.
When I got there at noon, she had just finished breakfast. It was a late morning for the family, a pretty rare occurrence. But it’s Sunday, and I respect it. I knew I’d have to stay until lunch, whenever that was, and sat in the living room. Soon after, three little girls came in, and I heard something about them knowing Spanish. They all spoke perfect Darija so I figured that some of them had studied a little bit of Spanish and knew a few words. Then it was revealed that two of the girls are Spanish. Their mother is from my site, and they were here visiting their sick grandfather.
It was a surprise how engaging it was to speak to a ten year old girl. It was satisfying to practice my native language with a stranger, especially in this environment. It felt out of place but so comfortable. The juxtaposition of it all was striking. She is Moroccan but also Spanish and in the middle of nowhere with me. Her cousins and aunts can’t understand us, but we’re in our comfort zones within a world we both love but isn’t completely ours, though more hers than mine. Put simply, I knew that she would understand me, and I would understand her.
I hadn’t been to Rebha’s in quite awhile because I was out of town for a month and have been pretty busy since I got back. She makes the best food. For lunch we had baked sardines stuffed with cilantro, parsley, lemon, garlic, and Moroccan spices. We also had sautéed spinach and salad, which was just lettuce and sugar, apparently a dish they make in Missour. We also had French fries and, of course, bread. She makes the best French fries.