Morocco: Picnic in the Forest

We went to the forest in Temara today for a picnic with several of the host families and their relatives. I played Bocce/Bocci/Botchi Ball (aka Le Bul) for the first time. The older men were so competitive! The only other time I had been around the game was at the Special Olympics my senior year of high school, so this was a drastic change of pace. The men were yelling, arguing, and marking off steps to see who was closest to the little target ball thing. After we had lunch, we played 4v4 soccer on the dirt road, and one of the kids, Fareed, who is about 12 years old, was getting pretty heated, so much so that I thought he was gonna swing on Zaid, who’s 19.
I really liked his little 7 year old brother Kareem, with whom I now share a Moroccan name. After we played soccer, Kareem asked me to play Bocce/Bocci/Botchi Ball with him, and I’m pretty sure he was lying to me about the score. Although I suppose it’s plausible that he doesn’t fully understand the rules. Anyway, while we were playing, this other kid came up to me and asked me “Keefash tal’ab?” It took me three tries to realize that he was, in fact, asking me how to play. It was one of those moments where I actually understood what he said the first time, but I thought I must have misheard him because it seems like everyone here knows how to play. Anyway, after I figured out what he was asking, I had to go through the process of explaining a game I had only re-learned a few hours before, in Moroccan colloquial. I guess I did a decent job, because he asked to play with us, and he seemed to have it figured out. Score!
Afterwards, we went back to the Big House, which, if I haven’t yet mentioned that, is the huge housing compound where Madiha, our program director in Rabat, lives with an as yet undisclosed and always fluctuating number of family members. I sat on the couch in the living room with Darby and Leslie and practiced Darija with Darby. After a few minutes, Sa’adia, an older woman who lives at the Big House, came over and started talking to us, allowing us to try to say a sentence or two in Darija before correcting us and responding. Darby told her she wanted to go to Tangier this coming weekend to play on the beach, which Sa’adia found hilarious (There are about a bazillion beaches there in Temara). She responded by saying that was like reaching with your left hand over your head and touching your right ear when your mom asks you where your ear is. It was a pretty great day, all in all. It really gave me a chance to use the Darija we’ve been learning, outside of “How much for the bread/banana/apple?”

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