It was recently pointed out to me that despite mentioning my host family, I have yet to introduce them to you properly. As I’m now entering week two of my home stay, I’ve had an opportunity to get to know my family a bit better and vice versa. Fortunately, while language barriers exist they are not nearly so vast as they might have been.
First I’d like to introduce my host mother, Fatima. Momma Fatima is the only person in the family that doesn’t speak a language that I can speak (or at least, she only knows a couple words of English and a couple words of Spanish that she’s picked up from previous host students and the rest of the family). She loves to talk to me in Darija and I’ve learned a few new words from her, including the basics of yes, I’m hungry and no thanks, I’m full. Have I mentioned that Momma Fatima loves to feed everyone? She’s a wonderful cook as well! On my first day in the home stay she made couscous with vegetables and meat which was divine. The next day was potatoes, carrots, beef, peas and other yummy vegetables for lunch. I got to help out by shelling the peas. After lunch I watched as she prepared Moroccan mint tea using fresh mint from the market. Of course, a hot meal followed by hot tea is enough to make you drowsy. I went downstairs with my host sister Iman… but when she went over to the neighbor’s, I wandered back upstairs and my host mom invited me to take a nap with her on the couch.
That leads me to the next person, Iman. Iman is my oldest host sister. For once; I am the youngest child in the house instead of the middle child or the oldest child! She’s studying English at the university and is the first family member I met. At pick up last Friday (this would be the first of February), instead of waiting for Doha, the home stay coordinator, to call me over and introduce us; she searched me out asking where Danielle was until I overheard and called out. It’s a good thing she’s not shy because I was shaking with nerves! We didn’t learn anything about our families until two hours before we were to go home with them.
Hamida is Iman’s younger sister. She is also studying at the university though her area of specialization is business management. Like Iman, she speaks English though she wants to learn Spanish. As I’m proficient at Spanish, we decided to do a language exchange: I’ll teach her the basics of Spanish and she’ll help me with my Arabic acquisition. Iman asked to join in the Spanish lessons as well so it should be fun! Hamida also took me to the Hamam with her during my first weekend. The Hamam are the Turkish baths. I have to say, I loved it! Three hours in a steamy room does wonders for your skin, especially when you also exfoliate.
The final family member is my host dad, Mustafa. Buba Mustafa (buba is father in Darija) is highly entertaining. He speaks enough Spanish that when neither of my sisters are around and I don’t know enough Darija or am lacking in pointing and gesturing skills, I can ask for his help in translating for my host mom. Yesterday when I came home I said salamo alaykum… then he sang the response! He also tried to get me to eat the diabetic cookies with him rather than the sugar cookies. Both my host sisters were telling me just say no, which made me laugh. Buba Mustafa also likes to help Momma Fatima tell me to eat more… culi! Culi! Eat! Eat!
And now it’s time for our afternoon tea… so I’m off!