A Life Less Convenient

I wouldn’t say I have culture shock but there I am starting to notice the difference between Morocco and America more and more. I have been realizing that I take a lot of everyday things in America for granted, like garbage cans and paper towels. There is a noticeable lack of garbage cans on the street in Rabat. I am used to a line of cans for trash, plastic, paper, and metal every few blocks, if not every block. Here they aren’t any. I have seen more than one person simply tossing their garbage on the ground as they are walking. We saw a man throw a folded cardboard box in the ivory covering a the base of a palm tree yesterday. Littering seems to be a part of everyday life. I just can’t acclimate to this. I keep carrying around junk until I find a dumpster or one of the 3 trash bins that are on our route home. It is not just in the streets but inside as well. At UWM there is a trash bin and a recycling bin in every room as well as in the hall. At home I have one in the kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, and even one near the front door. At Amideast they are only in the bathroom and in our home stay house I THINK there is one in the kitchen someplace, and there is a tiny one in the bathroom. It seems to go hand and hand with the lack of household waste that is generated. They do not use paper towels to wipe things down, food is fresh which removes the need for box and/or a plastic container. There are no paper towels in the public restrooms either. This is something I miss. There is no shortage of hand blow dryers but it is never the same. I find myself constantly drying my hands on my pants.
I am torn between missing and being thankful for the lack of megastores. There is no Walgreens, Target or Walmart to run in to. You can’t simply pull in to a parking lot and go to whatever section to get whatever you need. Getting something as simple as a hair brush becomes a mission to not only get to the medina, but get THRU the medina in hopes that you can find some tiny store that may or may not have a brush, much less the brush you want/need.
The constant presence of megastores in our culture also creates a disconnect from the source of our food. As anyone on this trip can tell you, ok anyone that knows me, I love goats. Sure I have eaten goat meat before but it comes in the form of a prepared food. There is something off putting about looking at a goat in the local market and knowing in a few hours it is going to be on someones plate. I kept asking our host mother if it was for “halib” (milk) and she would laugh at me and say no no no no it’s for meat. It’s a lot harder to eat chicken for lunch knowing she buys her food at the market where there are dozens of live chickens just hanging out. There is also a disconnect in America between buyer and seller. When we go to the store it is a simple transaction with some worker that is getting paid to take your money. Here when walking through the markets or medina you are face to face with the farmer or creator or small business owner. It is hard to walk past one person to buy from another knowing you are taking money away from a a family. It also makes me wonder if our host mother has relationships with certain vendors and how they developed. Are there certain people she just won’t buy from. I am still wrestling with where this fits in to my life when I get back home, but it has certainly given me much to mull over.

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One Response to A Life Less Convenient

  1. Kelly Cook says:

    In Rabat there are a couple megastores you can see. Aswak Salam and Marjane are their names and they’ll be all over the country in the major cities like Fez, Rabat,Casablanca, Meknes, Tangier and Marrakech.

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