Monday, January 4, 2010

Holidays Part IV: New Years with Edris & Julie (...and Turd & Banana)

After my overseas holiday adventures, I stayed just long enough at my apartment in Fes to catch my breath and clean out the mold that had been growing in our refrigerator for two weeks. Then straight away it was off to Imi Ouaddar to spend New Years with Edris and Julie Makward. And what a lovely end to the year it was.

Edris is an old professor of mine from the UW, whom I actually met by chance when I was living in Senegal. He is a bit of a legend at my university, having been one of the founding members of the African Studies department and Senegal Study Abroad program. Half Senegalese and half Moroccan, he grew up in the Gambia, Senegal and Fes, and has lived and worked in the US for the past 40ish years. When he found out I was going to Morocco, he took me under his wing and introduced to me family and friends all around the country. In fact, his half-sister Lalla Fatima, has become my surrogate grandmother in Fes. Edris and his American wife Julie have become my own aunt and uncle, so they invited me to spend my holiday at their vacation home in Imi Ouaddar.

During the bitter Wisconsin winter months, E & J escape to a small fishing village about 30 km north of Agadir. (Agadir is about 12 hours south of Fes, by train and bus, popular with European tourists for its idyllic beaches known for sailing, surfing and windsurfing.) In the summertime, the village is populated with Moroccan tourists of the retirement age, and in the winter months, European (mostly german) snowbirds come in flocks of RVs. In the camp sites, senior citizens wearing scarecely more than short shorts and sunburns play boules, walk their tiny dogs, tootle around on bicycles, and sit by the pools. E & J & I couldn’t figure out the fascination with pools, seeing as there is the world’s most lovely ocean just across the street.

Time spent at the Makwards was just what I needed. We took walks on the beach and in the villages, made delicious meals, and visited Agadir for a day (nice and breezy, but not much to do. Extra points for the “Zoo” though). Being at their house was just like lounging around my own for a few days: deeply relaxing and hilarious, and I was able to get some writing and reading done.

We were invited to have dinner with their German neighbor Gurd (or, as Edris has been mistakenly calling him for the past year, “Turd”), and his pretty-young-thing girlfriend, whose name the 3 of us were only able to decipher as something close to “Banana”. It was fun to have debates with Europeans over an incredible meal of pumpkin soup and prosciutto and fresh grilled fish and strawberries. We all fell silent, however, when the sun set

over the ocean in a champagne-cotton-candy-neon explosion. Let me tell you, there is nothing like the sunsets in Morocco, because of the ocean.

If Imi Ouaddar is for the Retired Snowbirds, then Taraghzout- the town next door- is for the Surfer Dudes. Indeed, Taraghzout is known to be one of Morocco’s surf meccas, and European surfers on holiday were out in full force. I spent a day bumming around the village and was bummed that I didn’t bring any of my gear. The waves were perfect, the weather was beautiful, and friendly surfers a-plenty offered to let me use boards. I will for sure go back and stretch my sea legs sometime this year.

E & J & I rang in the new year by toasting 2010 and the glorious sunset on their balcony overlooking the ocean. We grilled kefta and made Tomato-Avocado-Roasted pepper-Argon oil salad and dove into the Belgian chocolate I brought. We laughed over the past year and I made my resolution for this year: to Learn.

I usually make abstract resolutions that I already know I’m going to keep. It just ends up being more of a running theme of the year. 2009’s was “Trust”, and I did learn infinitely more about trusting than ever before. This time last year, I had no idea that I’d be spending a year and a half in Morocco, living my dream job. Everything fell into place at the perfect time. I know that I need 2010 to be a year of learning, because I realize that there is so much I wish to grasp, from driving stick shift to methods of transitional justice to humility and compassion.

I’m amazed at where I’ve been this past year. I’m grateful for where I am. I’m most excited to live this next year, and to live big, with a heart full of love and great memories.


Jocosa said...

The Gambia was Britain’s first and very last colony, being formally colonized in 1765 and gained independence after two hundred years, later in February 1965.
gambia holidays

Martha and Steve said...

Lucky you spending time with Edris!! I met him thru Papa Demba Sarr and he teased me with promises of tours to Morrocco...and now you are leaving the dream!!