The Brrd

“Brrd” in Darija means cold, and this week has been pretty cold. I think it may actually be the coldest week we’ve had in Morocco so far. The high today was about 44 F, both inside and outside. Luckily, the rest of the winter has been relatively warm and it’s supposed to warm up again in a couple days. But I wanted to share with you some of my favorite and least favorite things about the cold.

My least favorite things:

  • Washing my hands. We do have a water heater, but it takes long enough to turn on that it seem silly to turn it on for something that takes so little time. So I wash my hands in cold water, and it’s awful.
  • Sitting on the toilet seat. The shock of the cold seat is just terrible, especially since I do a pretty good job of keeping myself warm while I’m at home. It’s times like these when I wish we had a squat toilet instead of a Western (and that’s something I pretty much never wish).
  • Getting out of bed and changing clothes is really, really hard. Additionally, I think I could sleep like 15 hrs per night if I let myself. I do not like feeling so lazy.
  • Doing anything with my hands, like typing, writing, crocheting, cooking, or playing guitar. It’s hard to get your fingers to move right, and after a while they just hurt. My solution is to just not do them. Matt’s solution is more admirable:

Matt sitting in the one patch of sun in the room

Matt sitting in the one patch of sun in the room

My favorite things:

  • “It’s too cold” becomes a legitimate excuse for everything. I’m pretty sure I could skip work and tell my supervisors this and they’d be fine with it (no, I have not tried it, give me some credit).
  • The old men wear these big hooded cape-like things to keep warm outside, and younger men start wearing jellabas (traditional robe-type garments). In warmer weather traditional Moroccan clothing isn’t as popular, so I love seeing that people still wear it in everyday life in the winter.
  • Getting all bundled up inside. Today I’m wearing thermal underwear top and bottom, pants, two sweaters, gloves, a hat, and a blanket on top of all that. It’s very cozy! Plus it’s fun to count the layers and feel absolutely ridiculous.
  • The snow on the mountains in the distance is gorgeous. When it snows in town it’s even prettier, but I don’t have any good pictures of that.

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– Cori

Ringing in the New Year… 2965?

While I and my fellow Ohio State fans anxiously watch the National Championship tonight (go Bucks!!!!!), the rest of Azilal will be celebrating a different holiday. I forgot to mention this holiday last year but nonetheless it’s something I find fascinating – the Amazigh New Year, which takes place on January 12.

The Amazigh New Year is celebrated among the Amazigh populations of North Africa, which are concentrated in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya but also reach into the other countries in the region. The celebration itself is nothing too special – it mostly revolves around eating food and spending time with friends and family – but the history and the conflict surrounding the holiday are what I find most interesting.

This year the Amazigh people celebrate the year 2965. According to some, this commemorates a victory of an Amazigh leader over the Egyptian Pharaoh that led to a unification of the Amazigh community (in our calendar that first year was 950 BCE). It’s also sometimes recognized as the beginning of the agricultural year.

Although there is a fairly large Amazigh population in Morocco, the Amazigh New Year is not recognized as a national holiday, which leads to conflict every year. Amazigh activists across the country use the holiday as an opportunity to protest that while the Amazigh language was recently recognized as an official language in Morocco, the government has a long way to go with actually recognizing and embracing the country’s Amazigh heritage. I saw a couple different protests in Azilal last year; even the high school students staged a walk-out in protest of the government’s lack of recognition of the Amazigh people and culture.

This year, I’ll just focus on the celebrating. Happy 2965! Asggas Amaggaz 2965!

– Cori

You can check out my source articles here and here.

The Holidays

We just got home from our holiday trip to Budapest, Pécs, and Bergamo so I wanted to share a couple thoughts and some photos.

Trip highlights:
The delicious Hungarian food
Ice-skating on a beautiful Christmas day in Budapest’s City Park
Soaking in the Lukacs Thermal Baths for more than 3 hours (also on Christmas Day)
Exploring the bars in Budapest and Pécs
Seeing La bohème in the Hungarian State Opera House
Wandering the cities, especially in the fresh snowfall after our night at the opera
Enjoying the fireworks and atmosphere of New Years Eve in a jam-packed square in Bergamo’s old city
Italian Pizza

Some Photos:

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This is deliciously cooked pork smothered in some sort of incredible mushroom sauce and served with mashed potatoes – only one of the great meals we had in Hungary.

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Cori and the Hungarian State Opera House with fresh snow falling. This was probably one of the best nights of the trip.

It’s never easy to spend the holidays away from family and friends but it’s certainly better when you can at least enjoy them in a place where the locals celebrate with you. Still, we missed you all a lot this past week. Next year, we won’t have to worry about all this!

-Matt