This morning Anas, Faical, and I headed to the hammam. Since it is Jummah (Friday), throughout the Muslim world it is considered almost mandatory to clean oneself thoroughly today. I took my jalaba with me to change into afterwards. This time I didn’t feel as uncomfortable as I did the first time. It helped that the weird man in skimpy shorts wasn’t around. Anas, who is the definite veteran of the Moroccan hammam, scrubbed both Faical and me. Faical scrubbed his brother in return.
We returned to the apartment afterwards and ate breakfast, which again consisted of sweet tea, bread, cheese, and jelly. Then the three of us went for Jummah prayers. I wore my jalaba and felt like a local.
After Jummah prayers, we met Faical’s mother and Sarah at the apartment of Faical’s cousin. The apartment is beautiful with intricate Moroccan designs covering the walls. Faical’s cousin, Lutfi, and his wife are extremely friendly. They had prepared a large bowl of couscous, which is a traditional North African dish. It looks and tastes like a mix between rice and pasta. I had expressed a desire to eat couscous to Faical’s family, and they had assured me that I would eat it today since it is the typical dish on Fridays. We all ate out of the same big clay bowl. The couscous was delicious, and I ate a lot. The experience of communal eating is itself a memorable one. The family laughed, joked, and talked merrily throughout the meal. I contributed when I could. Meanwhile, Faical’s mother made sure I had the choicest parts of the broiled lamb meat.
After lunch I felt sleepy, and Lutfi invited me to take a nap on the living room couch. I gratefully accepted. Faical, Sarah, Anas, and Lutfi’s two boys soon joined me. For some time now, Anas and I had started a “No sleep in Marrakesh” slogan. I had taken it a step further by declaring, “Sleep haram fe Marrakesh.” As in, sleep is forbidden – as if it were a sin – in Marrakesh. The point was that we had to see as much of Marrakesh as possible, even if it meant sacrificing sleep. Sarah knew our slogan, so now when I attempted to sleep she kept waking me up with the chant “Sleep haram!” The kids picked it up, too, and soon they were all ganging up on me and doing whatever they could to keep me awake. I played along and grabbed at the kids when they tried sneaking up on me.
By and by, Anas and I decided to head to Casablanca this evening. We had talked about going for some time now. I have heard that there’s not much to see there, but there’s a certain attraction about the city, mainly because of the eponymous film. Since it is a weekend we can hang out with Mohsin, Faical’s friend who lives there. Moreover, Latifa has returned home to Casablanca and has been messaging Anas and me to come visit.
Anas and I caught the 7pm train to Casablanca. On the train I was reminded again how incredibly social Moroccans are. We found ourselves in a car with an older woman and her daughter, a precocious little boy and his aunt, a young woman in her mid-twenties, and an older gentleman. Soon the Moroccans were all talking and laughing amongst themselves. The little boy appeared to be entertaining them with his responses to their questions. I couldn’t understand them, of course, so I kept silent. Eventually, however, they asked Anas about me, and they drew me into their conversation. The young woman spoke English very well, and I started talking to her. If someone had looked into our cabin, he would have thought that we were old friends, laughing, joking, and sharing food.