Before coming to Morocco we had a week of classes introducing us to public health, global health, Islam, and health, illness and healing Morocco. We learned that traditional understanding of health/illness and healing practices were based in the humoural system. This system of healing is based on maintaining a balance of the four humours (Blood, Phlegm, Yellow Bile, and Black Bile), and their associated temperaments (cold, wet, hot dry…). An imbalance of any of these may lead to illness or health problems. In particular, Dr. Amster told us that Moroccans are very concerned with the cold and with protecting themselves with the cold, something that seems ironic considering how hot it can be in Morocco. This is because the cold is believed to make people sick, and for women in particular, is believed to affect fertility.
When we first arrived at our home stay Jenn and I brought our bags in and removed our shoes before walking around the rest of the house, as is common in most homes in Canada. Our host mom asked if we had slipper for our feet, and when we said no she quickly found some spare pairs for us to wear. I initially thought this was just gesture of hospitality, or a concern for cleanliness. However I started to notice that the family only wore slippers in certain parts of the house and not others. For example when they entered the living room, which is carpeted, they removed their slippers. The other morning I woke and ran to the bathroom, not thinking to put slippers on just to go pee. When I came out of the bathroom our host mom was in the kitchen. I said good morning. She responded, not with good morning but with a mix an aggressive mix of Arabic and French words and was gesturing at my feet. It wasn’t until this moment that I realised that the slippers may be more than just a hospitable gesture. Needless to say I always remember to wear my slippers now, for my health of course.