A Moroccan Marriage

8 Aug

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I don’t know if you remember, it has been awhile, but a guy from the Casablanca Budget (yes, the car-rental agency), Zahir, invited me to be his date for a wedding in Morroco!  I said YES immediately and then, like every girl everywhere, started stressing about my outfit. What was I going to wear? I knew what not to wear: White.

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My everyday djellaba.

Luckily for me, a few days before the wedding I met Hicham, a successful English speaking engineer who had quit in order to find happiness and start a surf school. The day I met him, he was patiently teaching a man in his 50’s how to catch a wave.  And then the last time we saw each other?  Hicham pretended to be a camel. Naturally, the two of us hit it off.

I told him about the upcoming wedding and how I didn’t “have the proper attire.”  He was actively helpful and over the course of our playful days together we found a “store”, 30 kilometers away, that rented djellabas.  Imagine that “store”:  Someones living room, with no mirrors or fitting rooms, and my only translator left every time I tried on something new.  The outfits weren’t dresses that I was familiar with either, they were complicated, traditional dresses which I’d never worn before that required careful instruction.  I listened in Arabic. Hicham went with me to translate (when he didn’t have to leave the room) and assist as the shop-girls put me all-together. The process took days and I still feel grateful. If you make it to Agadir, Morocco, I can not recommend his friendship enough.  https://www.facebook.com/Desert-point-surf-house-986989188011542/?fref=ts

Several of the djellabas I tried on, these photos acted as my reflection:IMG_0558_2.jpg

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Right vibe, wrong colour.

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Winner winner, chicken dinner.

On the day of the wedding Zahir picked me up at a different Budget, 6 hours from where we met (don’t invite me somewhere unless you mean it).  I was nervous and excited, of course, since Zahir was the only person I (sort-of) knew and I’d never before been to a Muslim wedding.  I smiled politely as we got out of the car and Zahir greeted the first person we saw — a literal midget in a tuxedo.  The two of them spoke together in Arabic.

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‘mi and the best man.

Uh oh, Zahir did not look happy.
After a couple of minutes he took me to the side and translated: This was a mixed wedding, Berber and Arabic.  And they were going to go with the more traditional style, Berber, for the ceremony “which means that the boys will be completely separate from the girls.”
GASP FACE.  My eyebrows shot up. Shut up, eyebrows. “Um, so we’re not going to be able to sit next to each other?”
“No. We won’t be able to see each other.”
“For how long?”
“For the whole thing.”
“How long is the whole thing?”
“Six hours.”
Eyebrows, keep it down.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was going to be like this before I invited you.”

And that was how I found myself alone during a 6 hour religious ceremony, alcohol-free, all in Arabic, with no one who spoke English, on a strange woman’s wedding day.

If you’re reading this I’d like to remind you that you’re on my side of the story.  These seemed like nice people. I fundamentally did not want to be disrespectful.  I tried to make myself as small and inconspicuous as possible (while documenting everything).

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The bride and groom

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Yours truly…looking weirdly happy while inadvertently wearing the same colour as the bride :/

No one who spoke English was with me when I first saw the bride.  But I think AHHHHHHHHH!! is a universal facial expression.   The same coloured dress as the bride?!??  Crushed-green-velvet-twins??

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Did the women helping me get ready not understand that I was merely attending a wedding? Did they think instead that I was the one who was getting married??

My cheeks stayed bright red until the wife-to-be changed outfits (five different coloured djellabas throughout the night). *Gigantic sigh of relief.* I hadn’t committed a non-verbal faux pas.

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When I rented my outfit the women told me (through Hicham) that I didn’t have to wear a head wrap.  Yay!

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Bathroom selfies are universal.

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Honored to be there.

I did my best to show the utmost admiration without understanding a word of what was going on.  Zahir was in another room with the men, not seeing or hearing the things I saw, yet tried to answer my confused questions via text.  “Were those the vows?  Did anyone object?  When will they kiss?” My mind worked overtime trying to make sense of it all.

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A woman drew henna on my foot.

I’m assuming these songs are the classics.

The ‘rhythmic clapping’ makes me think that I was Arabic in another life.

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Chicken was served at 11:30pm.  I guess a late dinner means a long marriage.

Sitting across from me was the mother-of-the-bride (er, I think) who was also wearing crushed green velvet. #shegetsit

Before we ate, a server came around and we washed our hands with water poured from a tea kettle.  The main dish was in the center of the table without plates, silverware, or napkins.  All hands in! It was awesome.  And made me think that I myself may end up having a Berber wedding (but with alcohol and the men and women together).

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Little cuties.

IMG_0626_2.jpgAt 4am, the festivities abruptly ended.  The bride and groom exited to get in their car and the entire party followed.  Before a quarter of us were out of the banquet-hall door, staff were stacking chairs.  Time.To.Go. I was ecstatic to meet back up with Zahir.   The boys and I piled into vehicles and joined a convoy pursuing the bride and groom to their hotel, BLASTING car horns the entire way. It was late and I was too tired to ask questions.

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By the time I got back “home” the sun was coming up — which meant not much sleep.

 

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The Beauty and the Sleep Deprived

—————–

A couple of hours later I had my first (of several) run-ins with the police: I had gone to exchange money and when I came back out my car was gone.  My home!  I called Zahir who immediately showed up with the midget from last night.  It felt like The Hangover except none of us were hungover.  Everything I owned was inside of that vehicle!   The three of us drove all over town trying to locate it, talking to everyone.  The pants I was wearing couldn’t take the pressure of bribing police officers and they split wide open — which would have been hilarious except that I was in a conservative, Muslim country with no access to a change of clothes. And so I walked with a conspicuous limp, trying to hide my situation, as the authorities continued to give us the run around.  There was so much red tape that it took us almost 7 hours to retrieve my car from the impound.  Still unclear about who I paid off to get it back.

I was relieved, put on different trousers, and bought the rescue crew a hot lamb tagine with olives, tomatoes, and cold Coca-Colas.

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Za-heroes.

Soon after dinner I returned my rented djellaba, left Agadir, and headed into the mountains.

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Winding roads that eventually led to snow.

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Morning views.

Being invited to that wedding was a blessing, I felt overwhelmingly fortuitous.  Still do.
More’rockin posts to come, a lot happened.
Saving room for desert,
‘mi

11 Responses to “A Moroccan Marriage”

  1. WWB August 8, 2016 at 11:14 am #

    Wow Sammi! Love your outfit! Loved this post! Love You!

  2. ladybugjoan13 August 8, 2016 at 2:57 pm #

    Hope you get my comment.XXXOOO

    Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

  3. Lori August 8, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

    Oh gosh! What entertainment! Such a laugh. Keep the outlandish experiences and good humor coming. Velvet becomes you;) Like be the specs. Lori

    • Sammi Travis August 9, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

      Aw! Thanks so much Lori!! SO great to hear from you!! I got to keep the glasses! And I’ll keep the fashion tip in mind and try to find more velvet for my upcoming weddings this fall!

  4. globecultureform August 9, 2016 at 1:21 am #

    So many laughs while reading this!

    • globecultureform August 9, 2016 at 1:22 am #

      (This is Dana, I guess I don’t have wordpress so I’ve inadvertently replied from my whole Comparative Literature class’s account!)

      • Sammi Travis August 9, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

        Haha, that’s hilarious. You can speak for all of them 🙂

    • Sammi Travis August 9, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback!!! I’m trying to get a bunch posted before I see you SO SOON!!

  5. deekerson August 9, 2016 at 1:52 pm #

    A fun, clever, and funny post. Good job conveying the wedding, although I felt like I was actually there when we were What’s Apping. Looking forward to more posts.

    احضان و قبلات

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