We spent the week at the Sheikh’s (of Zawiya Ahansal) home, living with him and his family. No longer having host families by the pair, we had sleeping rooms split by gender and shared common meals. Each day was filled with different activities such as a hiking/camping trip, tutoring school children in English, and interviewing different grassroots NGOs. I liked to spend some time sitting in the open courtyard at the sheikh’s home, at a point that overlooked a good portion of Aguddim. From there I could see a wonderful combination of rocky terrain, runaway cows, and people greeting each other “Salaam” as they passed each other on the road.
On the night before we were to leave Zawiya Ahansal, the sheikh and his family hosted a farewell party for us, which was no small affair. It started with a large outdoor dinner where lamb meatballs (from a lamb that was slaughtered earlier that day), chicken kebabs, and a host of delicious food was on the menu. Following the meal, the sheik’s wife ushered the girls into the women’s quarters to be met with a bag of dresses. We were to pick out one to wear for the festivities that were to follow. When we emerged clothed in our native wear, I was amazed to see many people from the town had come to join us–or rather watch us as we joined in on a small traditional dance and music festival in the courtyard. Though I did not know what was being said or for how long we’d continue dancing in a circle, I did have a good time and appreciated all that had gone into sending us off.
Chloe told us that Zawiya means corner and is used as part of the Moroccan phrase, “to take the corner”. To take the corner is to take a moment to reflect, to think about one’s life, one’s journey, or whatever might be needing contemplation. Though we were only in Zawiya Ahansal for a brief time, it was definitely a time where I could start to think about my time here in Morocco. While I will continue to reflect in the coming weeks and time after, I will say that my time here was worthwhile.