Location: Women's Co-operative for Argan Oil (Somewhere between Had Draa and Onagra)
Weather: High 90's, Sooooooo Hot.
Sometime last week I was sitting in the new Cyber (Hamdullah!!) in my souq town, busily typing away trying to form some sort of coherent response to the 30 or so emails which build up every few days, when I noticed two women sitting opposite pretending to use the computer while sneaking glances in my direction. Being used to such matrimony seeking tendencies everyone seems to have here (not to mention the usual attention a big white guy draws here anyway) I did not really give it a second thought so I continued on with the business at hand. An hour or two passed by and I noticed that they ladies were still sneaking glances, not the same women as before though but from the same group, they seemed to be well organized and taking shifts. What were they up too? Was I under surveillance by a group of jellaba-clad women? Finishing up I packed up my things and went to pay up. The Cyber owner, congenial as always, gave me my change and with it a business card for an Argan oil Co-operative. As he did so he pointed towards the door and the women keeping an eye over me, it turns out she was the president of the Co-op! These women had been hanging out not for a marriage contract to be signed but for my help! The woman's name was Hassna and she asked if I would come visit them to see what they do. I agreed and went on my way.
It has actually been something of interest to me and had been planning on engaging with one the many Argan Co-operatives for some time now, but a week had passed between this specific invitation and the actual visit. What was I waiting for?!?!? The meeting went great! Hassna was extremely welcoming and treated me to tea (like any good Moroccan would do) and cracked open a bottle of their Argan oil for me to try (very nutty, but absolutely delicious!). While sipping on tea we discussed what the Co-op did and what their needs were, during the conversation she mentioned that they were hoping to expand into other areas such as goats and beekeeping. Hold up a second, BEEKEEPING! (Weird, she just called while writing this…sorry for the digression) Beekeeping is exactly the kind of project I was looking to do and now I found an educated, motivated, and, best of all, mobile female who was looking for the same thing! Way to fight the trend Morocco. I hope to visit twice a week and really get to know the ladies in the Co-op (and them to know me) and get something going here, hopefully some sweet, sweet honey.
During the meeting with the Co-op President this guy, wearing cargo capri, tight shirt, and colored glasses came strolling in looking to buy oil for his store. He greeted each one of us (about 5 people in the room at the time), after responding to him "Salaam Alikum" he turn back to me and said "Espana?", "La (no)" I replied. "Lubnon? Suria?" he continued, "La, La, Ana mn Mirikan" I replied. He just froze and stared at me, stared at me for quite some time actually and then he said "m3aqul (seriously)?" "m3alum (of course)" was my response. At this time he turned to Hassna to confirm with her, once confirmed he turned back to me and "Tbark 3la 3lik (similar to 'congratulations')". Such events as this are what make my day, changing hearts and minds one person at a time. Just giving this man the opportunity to meet and American face to face and being able to converse in his language left him dumbstruck and hopefully changed whatever perception he may have held about Americans. Job accomplished.