This Wednesday marked the third week I've been staying with my host family here in Morocco where I've been living with another T.I.M.E. traveler, Katie, in an apartment in the neighborhood of Ziat in the Old Medina. We feel so welcomed by our hosts: our mother Khadija, and our brothers Taha (age 20), Bodr (age 13) and Saod (age 9). Most of the day is spent taking classes at ALIF or studying in cafés in the Medina, so much of our family time is spent eating or watching TV (both of these seem to be a staple activity in a Moroccan household). Our family loves the Turkish drama "Sultan," prompting Katie and I to become diehard fans.
This past Saturday we welcomed a new brother into our home, though only temporarily. He was dragged in rather unwillingly, but has since taken up comfortable residence in the alcove adjacent to our dining room table. Though he interrupts our meals with an occasional bleat, and consumes only straw, we have grown very fond of this new addition to the family. Even Taha admitted that he is very cute, and will be sad to see him go.
As you may have guessed, this new housemate is in fact a sheep. He will be playing the central role in the upcoming Islamic celebration Eid el-Adha, where each Muslim household sacrifices a sheep in honor of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in obedience to God. The sheep will be slaughtered on Friday in our family's kitchen (keep in mind we have a very small apartment) and its carcass will be hung up for the next three days as we consume various parts of the body.
Needless to say, both Katie and I have been extremely nervous about this festival. We see constant reminders of its ever nearing presence all around Fez. Even while wandering through the medina, perusing shops, it's important to keep an eye out for trailers packed full of bleating sheep barreling down the cobblestone slopes to be delivered to waiting families. Our own family has been looking forward to the festival since we arrived about a month ago, and one of their most frequent conversation starters is to menacingly mime a knife-slicing gesture across their throat and emit a frightened "baaa," all the while laughing at our nervous expressions.
I'm confident that this experience will be: frightening, interesting, disgusting, educational, and a once in a lifetime opportunity. Three cheers for experiential learning!