Ramadan – Taza – 2013

So this Ramadan was my first Ramadan as a married lady.  It was a huge mile stone in my marriage with my husband and I am very thankful that I was able to have this moment with my husband and his family.

This Ramadan was full of struggles and rewards.  I think the hardest issue was the fact that my husband had to work the entire Ramadan.  As my husband is a fire fighter/EMT its more than just your average work schedule that he and I work with especially with the random special events that happen during Ramadan here in Taza that I had not anticipated nor had knowledge of because they aren’t something that happens in the US during Ramadan.

In Morocco being a fire fighter/EMT with the Protection Civile means during a normal work schedule my husband works one day on and one day off.  However during this Ramadan – my husband worked two days on and two days off then worked extra hours at the local fire station with no pay to help man the understaffed station while there were special events going on.

Moroccan fire fighters work with what they have in terms of equipment and man power.  I dare any American fire fighter to complain once they see what Moroccan fire fighters deal with in terms of lack of equipment, not getting paid in full for months on end and getting training but not the certificates to prevent the fire fighters from seeking work in the private sector here in Morocco etc.

Most forest fires would be put out with a water dump from a plane or helicopter – not in Morocco – my husband and his coworkers hike 2 or more hours into the back country and then cut fire lines and set back burns to put out fires- this is the norm here.

Back Country Fire in Taza Region - Morocco
Back Country Fire in Taza Region – Morocco

There are no “Hot Shots,” – there are just regular guys humping it up the mountain to put out a fire and they will work around the clock till the fire is out.

Did my husband fast you maybe wondering? – Yes.  He fasted the entire Ramadan.  Sub hanna Allah and Ma sha Allah.

So it meant I spent most of Ramadan with my husband’s family or alone in our apartment.  I don’t mind being alone – I am an introvert by nature but it meant I really was desperate to spend quality time with my husband when he was home and he was just desperate to eat, drink and fall to sleep.

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Mawlid – Concert for the Public in Taza – Ramadan 2013

So we had different priorities when my husband was home.  I cooked, cleaned and washed clothing  during Ramadan in order to care for my husband’s needs and try and make him comfortable and as a relaxed as possible when he was off work.

We decided that when my husband was home – we would break our fast at our apartment and then if he wasn’t tired – visit his family at their home and then take a walk and relax in a nearby garden.

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The Old Wall & Stairs up to the Old Medina of Taza are finally finished with a color changing light feature!

I was also using the Ramadan Battle Plan and so I was very focused on trying to read my way through the Qur’an and make all the fard prayers during Ramadan on time.  I also made it a goal to go to Taraweeh – the extra prayers at the masjid as much as possible.

I wanted to support my husband in his Deen – so I always invited him to come to Taraweeh with me or pray Taraweeh in the house together.  I was able to get him to the masjid once for Taraweeh before he fell off a roof or was it a wall during a rescue at work?  I can’t remember but he was pretty banged up and it hurt for him to kneel during prayer – so he didn’t make it to another Taraweeh at the masjid but we did pray several times together at our home.

I encouraged him to read Qur’an when I read Qur’an.  Which was right before going to sleep.  I made sure to play the recitation of the Qur’an in the house daily.  I would stay up till Fajr and he did the same to pray and spend time together.

I also dragged him out of the house for Eid Prayers bright and early.  He was like “we don’t HAVE to go,” and I simply shook my head at him and said,”Its Sunnah – we are going,” and went and got dressed.  Yeah we were a bit late but whats late in a country where nothing is ever on time?

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Part of the women’s area in the Grand Masjid of Taza’s Old Medina. This is a courtyard I prayed in often during Ramadan

The rewards of Ramadan were –

Praying with my husband in our house and at the masjid.

Praying with my husband’s family.

Breaking fast with my husband.

Breaking fast with my husband’s family.

Getting half way through the Qur’an.

Increasing my iman through acts of kindness and sadaqa (charity).

Making du’a for all my family and friends.

The second issue was my personal feeling of homesickness and depression about being in Morocco.  Yes you can get depressed when your away from your country long enough.  I am in month 24 of my service of 27 months and I feel like I am about to crawl up the walls.

Maybe in other countries of service its different and its different based on other PCV’s and their sites – but in Taza in the most conservative region in Morocco – I would argue that this isn’t much for a married woman to do outside the house or ways to entertain yourself.  It was a struggle to find activities to do with my husband in the extreme heat while fasting in Ramadan – yes there is always more Qur’an but I wanted to do something else like take a hike or go to the movie theater.

We don’t have a movie theater in Taza anymore – that got shut down about 10 years ago.  I wasn’t interested in hiking in 100+F heat and my husband wasn’t interested after working all day. So we spent a lot of time sitting in local gardens and watching TV shows off my hard drive.  I miss knowing there were a bunch of possible things to do and that gender bias and shame wouldn’t EVER be a factor in my getting out of the house in the US.

I just have this overwhelming feeling of – I want to do something – get active – make some change and feel stuck in the mud of summer/Ramadan in Morocco.

I miss my dog Tazah.  I keep thinking how nice it would be to have a dog to take for walks in Taza but then I think about how mean Moroccan’s are to animals especially dogs and I remind myself I am a better pet parent than that to do that to a dog.

I also noticed that I have no desire to write and share what I am thinking or feeling when I am depressed or homesick.

I did spend a lot of time getting paperwork for my husband’s I – 130 application for his visa to return to the US with.  I did also spend a lot of time looking at Master’s Degree programs, their locations, cost of living in the area and if there was a Fire Academy nearby for my husband to attend.

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I avoided the Moroccan Ramadan programming on TV at all costs. I hate soap operas and thats the majority of Moroccan TV

I spent a lot of time on Pinterest and talking to my husband about if now is the right time to adopt a baby from Morocco for us.  We decided it wasn’t the best time right now.  We decided we would adopt when our oldest child is 18 months old and I was still nursing – we aren’t currently pregnant nor seeking to be pregnant.  We are going to start trying to have a baby the last 3 months of my masters degree program but thats about 2 years in the future.

I had desired to help out at the local orphanage for the past year and during Ramadan was able to get permission to help out- hooary! – so that is a bright spot in reducing my level of stir craziness, homesickness and depression.  It helps with over whelming urge to get pregnant and have a baby right now! That I have been having the last 2 months.

I hope to continue to work with the orphanage even after my service with Peace Corps is done.  I think that qualifies as a reward – feeding, diapering and holding babies three times a week in the afternoons.

SO yeah I have been having a bunch of confusing and conflicting feeling all during Ramadan and before Ramadan.

I keep an eye on my calendar and keep counting down to my COS conference which is in about 2 weeks and say to myself, “your almost there girl.”

I also think about how to fill the void between COSing and actually going home to America with my husband and the challenges that lay in that space.  This is why I am trying to create work for myself with the PC Morocco Resource Blog I created and the orphanage.

I hope to also be able to help out with the local association TOMZIT during that time.  It will be freeing to be able to work without the Peace Corps label and work as a volunteer like I did in the states – just finding a need and filling it without all the red tape.

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