Here is a picture of the entire Didi family in the midst of the sheep-slaughtering rituals of Eid al-Adha. Here is Mamma Hakima, her husband Hamid, their sons Simon, Medhi, and Simohammed and their families, Mina, who cooks for the family, and some other extended family members. The majority of the people pictured did not live with us regularly, yet they all came home to Fez for the weekend of Eid, from as far away as Lyon, France. The house was full of laughter and games, constant activity and conversation, a familiar feeling for anyone with an extended family. Apparently some cultural phenomena are universal, whether it’s a holiday in Fez, Morocco or Festus, Missouri.
Indeed, even in the quieter moments of our home stay, Duncan and I benefitted from the Didi’s warm and gracious hospitality. Our room was comfortable with two twin beds, and overlooked its own small courtyard; the house had Wi-Fi (the envy of most of our group mates), and three times a day, without fail, we enjoyed delicious, homemade meals (Kule, Kule!, they always tell us as Mina would scoot slices of homemade bread across the table and would push the main dish our way), accompanied by frequent and spontaneous quizzes on the Arabic names of different foods. In fact, they insisted that, for the most part, we try to speak to them in a mixture of Arabic and French, and though our knowledge of each language is quite limited, somehow we managed to get by. Our attempts to communicate simple ideas in Darija (the colloquial Moroccan dialect of Arabic), such as where we were going and when we’d be back, were always met with delight and encouragement.
We fly to Egypt in the morning, and since leaving the Didis we won’t be living ‘at home’ until we return to the States in late December. Although barriers of language and culture often made it difficult for Duncan and I to feel completely ‘at home’ with our Moroccan hosts, the family always recognized our presence and gave us a place in their midst. On the first night of our stay, Mamma Hakima told Duncan and I (her son Mehdi translating), ‘this house is your house.’ I can’t help but think of all that we will have seen and done by the next time each of us hears this.
Our gratitude to the Didis for welcoming us into their home and family.
-Matt and Duncan