Term of Today: Tiyb

As it turns out, I can cook (Tiyb), more or less.

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I’ve never truly been in a situation where I’ve had to Tiyb for myself. College is a big exception, but even then I had many options – healthy and otherwise – to eat outside my dorm or apartment. Another exception is when I worked at the Oregon legislature and lived in a small house nearby. I had a functional kitchen, but I shared it with two others, and I still had delicious options on the legislature’s campus and elsewhere.

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Now that I’m in my own house, my kitchen has become a little home within my home. Though I do have several little food joints in my site, I am trying to use PC as a way to learn to Tiyb.

My first full-on meal took three hours to make. Enjoy the recipe below!

Pollo Asado Fries on February 3, 2017

Ingredients:
  • 1 buta tank (125 DH for the initial purchase, only 50 DH for refills)
  • 1 valve with rubber washer (15 DH)
  • 1 extra rubber washer (0.5 DH)
  • 1 two-meter buta hose (8.5 DH)
  • 2 valve clasps (1 DH each)
  • 1 pan (25 DH)
  • 1 three-burner stove (200 DH)
  • Lighter (free, leftover from previous Volunteer)
  • Leatherman multi-tool ($65, bring with you from the US; optional)
  • 1/2 chicken (30 DH)
  • 3 avocados (~15 DH, bought in bulk)
  • 1 extra-large potato (~2 DH, bought in bulk)
  • 1/2 red onion (~0.5 DH, bought in bulk)
  • 1/2 tomato (~1 DH, bought in bulk)
  • cilantro (1 DH for one bundle)
  • olive oil (45 DH for 1.5 liter)
Recipe (serves 3 or one very hungry person who didn’t realize how much food he actually had):
  1. Purchase and transport buta tank from the local 7anut to your house (allow for 30 minutes).
  2. Open buta tank’s safety seal (allow at least 30 minutes for first time; don’t give up! It’ll get easier with future tanks). You may need to saw it open with your Leatherman. Feel free to listen to the whole soundtrack of Spring Awakening while you work.
  3. Attach one end of hose to the valve and secure with valve clasp (1-2 minutes).
  4. Attach other end of hose to the stove and secure with valve clasp (20-30 minutes, depending on your strength and tenacity).
  5. Screw valve onto buta tank (2 minutes max).
  6. Make guacamole by adding salt to three pitted and mashed avocados, diced tomatoes and onions, and finely chopped cilantro (20 minutes). Store in fridge if you have one yet.
  7. Slice up chicken – breast, thigh, leg – into bite-sized portions (15 minutes).
  8. Tiyb chicken on stove with leftover onion, tomato, and cilantro, and add salt and any other spices at your disposal. Chili pepper and cumin work wonders (20 minutes). Set chicken aside.
  9. Cut potato into thin strips and fry in olive oil with a little salt. Bonus: this is a great way to determine whether your PC-provided smoke detector works (15 minutes).
  10. On a plate, make a bed of guacamole. Place chicken on the guacamole, and top it off with fries fresh from the pan. (3 minutes).
  11. Enjoy with potentially tainted water from your faucet or boxed, unrefrigerated, ultra-pasteurized 0% milk.
Total price: 470.5 DH (around $47), not including the Leatherman.
Total prep and Tiyb time: 2-3 hours, depending on how fast you realize you can saw the safety seal off the buta.

Term of Today: 3iyan

Before my Christmas post, I hadn’t contributed any content to my blog for nearly a month. I’d like to say my negligence is due to my intense attempts at integration into my community, meeting leaders and forming strong bonds with the youth, but… that’s not really the case.

Mainly, I’m just really 3iyan – tired. (For an explanation of how to pronounce this word, see my first language post.)

There is a lot on my plate right now. I can’t deny that. But in all honesty I have a lot of time to do everything. That includes napping two hours a day.

Lesson Planning. Using the information and techniques I learned through PC training, I prepare lessons each week for two formal English classes at my dar shabab and a basketball-based English class at my sports complex. Usually one lesson plan takes an hour to write in addition to assembling or making necessary pictures, drawings, and activities for the lessons.

Lessons. Then there are the lessons themselves. The two English classes are one and a half hours each, once a week. In the beginner’s class there are around 15 students, and in the advanced class there are usually closer to 20. I should mention that these classes are actually Steven’s, the other volunteer in my site who has been here for two years. While he is on Christmas vacation in America, I am substituting for him. The basketball-based English class is mine, however, and I expect around 20 young boys to participate each week.

House Hunting. While I continue integrating and developing relationships, I am also looking for houses. I must move out of my host family’s house on February 1st. So far I have seen four options and will see the fifth next week. Stay tuned for a blog post specifically about house hunting!

Bureaucratic Work. As part of my work, I must monitor, report, and evaluate my activities. So far this hasn’t taken much of time because I am just beginning, but soon I will have to supply PC Morocco headquarters with detailed information about the number of youth developing or enhancing skills. This eventually will reach PC’s Washington, DC headquarters and then Congress.

Multimedia Committee. I was elected by my staj to serve on the newest of PC Morocco’s committees – the Multimedia Committee. Three others and myself will soon take over for the previous staj and run the upcoming PC Morocco Facebook page, make short videos about Volunteer initiatives and lifestyles, design technology handbooks, and help our fellow Volunteers with any ICT (information, communication, and technology) requests.

So… yes, ana 3iyan. I am tired. I am very tired, but it is so worth it.

Term of Today: brd

“l-brd! l-brd! (The cold! The cold!)”

That’s what my permanent site host mom would say every time I would leave the house. She said it with good reason: the temperature of the five days I visited my permanent site reached the mid-70s, but once the sun fell, it dropped to low 40s, courtesy of the desert climate.

So I bundled in my thermal long underwear, jeans, and Columbia Omni-heat jacket and rode my bike into town. I always found myself sweating by the time I arrived.

Back in my training site of Tiflet, the weather has changed. It now plummets to the low 40s every night. Both here and my permanent site, as well as throughout Morocco, the homes don’t have central heating. Unless the family owns a space heater, the only way to get warm is to pile blanket after blanket on top of you. That’s what I do every night.

There’s a widespread notion/superstition/belief among Moroccans that l-brd causes sickness, which explains my Mama Khadija’s insistence on me wearing a jacket and Mama Hadda’s insistence on me taking another blanket to my room. This came up in conversation a few weeks ago with Majid, my LCF, while we were sitting at a cafe. I and another PCT tried to explain that the cold weather itself does not cause sickness. It only makes your body more susceptible to sickness.

Majid is very open to science and progressive views. He said he can see how the cold lowers your immune system, but still he contended that the cold still causes sickness, even indirectly.

Technically, I suppose, we were both right on an objective level. And who am I to say his/Moroccans’ belief of l-brd is wrong? Who am I to say any belief is wrong?

Term of Today: shwiya

Language…

as I’ve written before, is the key to integration. While I learn the language, there are words that become more important to me than others. Reasons can range from the words’ utility, anecdotal significance, ease of remembrance, or humor. My Term of Today series will dissect the importance of certain Darija words and give you a whiff of what’s going on here in Morocco.

Word: shwiya

Translation: little

Importance: shwiya was one of the first few Darija phrases I learned and it has quickly become one of my most spoken. I’ve used it in two ways:

1) It helps define how much I understand. Native speakers in any language usually speak faster than a language learner’s understanding can match. My host family situation is no different. Following four hours of Darija class in which my teacher speaks slowly and clearly, I come home for lunch and suddenly the pace of dialogue is lightyears faster. I recognize a word every now and then; I often smile out of sheer arrogance. But then my family turns their attention to me and ask, “Fhmti?” (“Do you understand?”). My response? “shwiya.”

2) It’s necessary to indicate that I am learning Darija. The phrase shwiya b shwiya was one of the first I learned and it is now probably my most used. It’s a failsafe phrase that I use after struggling through any sentence with the little vocabulary I already know. For example, today my older host sister (to whom I’ve given the American name Stacy) asked who I went to the cafe with. I answered, “hay’Aat salam… sabki… smitu Matt… u khu – khuya – khuh… juj khuh. Darija, shwiya b shwiya” (Literally, “Peace Corps… my friend… his name is Matt… and brother – my brother – his brother… two his brother. Darija, little by little.”) And, without fail, whoever has been patient enough to listen to me tear their language apart will repeat “shwiya b shwiya” with a huge understanding grin. Then we both laugh.