Susan and Regina

Two German ladies showed up one evening while the hotel was vacant.
I looked at them walk in wandering for a second what they wanted. We didn’t expect any guest for a couple days and I must have forgotten that we were indeed a hotel providing rooms. It didn’t take me long to clue in and I quickly went to the reception desk to welcome them.

They took a room and stayed with us for a couple nights. The second morning we started a conversation as I was serving them breakfast and I asked if they would be up for a couple questions about age.

Susan is a university professor. She is sixty three.
Regina is a psychologist. She is sixty six.
They are cousin, good friends, and enjoy traveling together.

It is interesting to get feedback from different age group (last week the ladies were thirty).  The fact that English is a second language (for myself as well) only added flavor to the exchange.

 

What is old?

Susan:  Being not attractive anymore, not attractive for other people, loosing autonomy, needing help.

I think you can be old in so different ways, I think and I hope I will never be old in that terrible sense. My mind is quite young, my way of behaving is rather young. All the time I’m in contact with young people now so that, perhaps, keeps me young as well.

Regina: What is it to be old? I don’t know.

My body is feeling old. When I get out of the car my legs are stiff, it takes a moment and then it’s good, I can move again. My mind, my emotions, are not old. And when my cousin say we are not so attractive for the man, for me it’s good because I was a very attractive woman and it’s not nice to be that, and now I can look and nobody is looking for me. I love it. I can show my emotion.

Last year I was really old, I lost one (pointing to her breast) and I think it’s good that I am an old woman and not thirty years old. No problem for me. I’m an old woman and I’m very very interested in all things and I’m also naughty. I’m a old time naughty, yes! And I understand a lot of things and when people say: oh, I want to be young, I think no, no. You are very alone then and I don’t want (that). It’s ok I’m old, but my body, my legs, it’s not so nice.

Susan: I see that the norm says you, as a woman, are suppose to look for men who are older or as old as you are and not the young ones. But when you’re getting older it’s for you like for the man that you like the younger ones.

Regina laughs and says “Naughty!”

Susan: And you accuse man of taking second and third women or marrying again and again and you say yeah, he can do that, he gets the new one when the old one is worn out and old and ugly but we’re not allowed to do that. I mean in general.

I have to think about that a lot because I meet a lot of young people that are nice.

The men that are of my age and older I think they are incredibly unattractive. They are so much less attractive then women of my age. And so, what can I do with them? I mean they don’t attract me, I don’t want to share my life with them. They are not lively anymore. It seems they are sort of depress, they are slower, they do not look for what is happening in the world.

I have the impression that women try to get more when they are old, they still want to learn things for themselves; keep themselves upright (she is looking for the right word) dynamic. And of course I can’t say that about all women but there are such women and I meet them and I like them. And I have a big problem getting to know men of my age that are interested and interesting.

Why do you think that is?

Regina:
The garden; the garden of Eden.
Eva say, let us eat from the apple and Adam say “oh God say no!”
She is very interested, she wants to eat the apple and I also want to eat the apple.
And God say no, Adam says no.

(Big laugh from both of them)

Regina:
I think it’s not easy to be old because I don’t plan, I can’t plan the next 10 years.
Oh! I’m going to (do) this and that… It’s over.
You can’t plan.
I think the next five years; I think it’s like now (looking at herself, physically) but then I don’t know. Can I live in my loft?, I have a lot of steps. I don’t know; I – don’t – know.
It’s a difficult question. I think when I have a good day, I think twenty years. (laugh)
Yes; I’m old in twenty years. But I don’t know.
I feel my body much more (now) then when I’m younger, I didn’t think about my body when I was young.
My wrinkles that’s ok. Ohhhh, beautiful! (laugh)

When was beauty not a problem anymore?

Regina:
Fifty.
Fifty years old and I’m sitting on a ship in Sicily and there are lots of men of all ages and they laugh at me and I laugh back and I think, ah! it’s no problem, ah!, the world is opening up (laugh).
The first time I realize this, yes, I was fifty, I remember very very clear.

About youth?

Susan:
Youth has a future. The world is there for you (if you are in such a privilege situation as we are, enough money, good parents, good education), the world is open, you can do many things, you just decide or you wait and things happen. Youth means you have all possibilities, the world is open. People expect from you that you take advantage of your opportunities.

When I got thirty we were joking about things. My friend say thirty, oh yeah, that’s something, and we give you some cream for your face and how to eat in healthy way so you sort of get along with age from thirty on. We’re laughing a lot and I say; you go off with your stuff, I don’t want it.
I didn’t think much change then but I know that when I approach sixty, my age of sixty, I was never fifty nine, I was always almost sixty and it was like aaaahhhh, sixty, that’s quite an age, this is something really…

You have to get over that.  Say well ok, I’m sixty, nothing happened, I’m still as I am, ok, ok, ok.

But it is since I’m in the sixties that I’m getting more and more afraid of age… and I’m afraid that people expect me to be old. That they judge me and say: you’re sixty, oh yeah, ok, you’re sixty, not much to do in your life anymore.

I know that my father and my mother were ninety when they died so perhaps half my life is in front of me.
Yes, much life left in you indeed.

Thank you Susan and Regina.

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Claudia, Julia, Ines

It’s been quiet here these past few days
been rainy and stormy and grey
our guests are gone
there’s water dripping here and there
looks like it will be quiet for a few more days

I photographed and interviewed Claudia and Julia last week
they are both 30 (it was Claudia’s birthday)
they were both on vacation with their beau

I got to know them a little, took a few pictures and asked random questions
there is a topic now that I will keep on investigating
age, aging, time

here they are

 

Claudia and Simon

Claudia is from Germany, she is a lawyer, wants to make a decent living, wants kids.
She turned thirty during her stay in Sidi Kaouki. That morning I made her fluffy pancakes with honey syrup. She liked them so much she asked for the recipe.
Simon looked chill, I forget what he does but he seemed willing to stay home and look after the kids when the time comes. Attentive, he had bought a small cake for her birthday. With candles on it.

They were both lovely.

– How does it feel to be 30?
“Three or four months ago I didn’t want to get 30 but now I feel good.
The last year is that (when) I found the more and more what I am. When I was younger it was like what the world is expecting from me.”

Now she feels like she is being herself not meeting others’ expectation.

“I want to be happy, have a family, we want to marry.”
“I don’t like this word: old. Maybe you are never old. You can not fix it with an age.”
“You don’t get that much older when you go with the times. My grandmother has a strong will. She grew with the times.”

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Julia and Aurélien

Julia is French.
She is pretty, social, happy, generous, attentive.
She likes her coffee black.
She is a waitress.
She wanted to work with kids and elders
Do social work
For some reason the french system may not let you be what you want to be
Julia loves: the sun, Morocco, but most of all she loves Aurélien

What is your dream?
“A house in the country, a big piece of land, three sheep, chickens, a goat, a garden, a baby.”

What do you like about your work?
“The contact with people. To offer (the pleasure of) food. The contact with the kitchen: foods, smells, flavors.”

She likes the fast pace. “You don’t get bored”

A good waitress is…?
“Organize, efficient, always smiling.”

Aging? What is it to be old?
“It’s in your head” “ I’m thirty now, my twenties are behind me. I’m not happy to be thirty, to have lost my youth. It’s the Peter Pan complex.”

What is youth?
“It’s to have time ahead of you, the older you get the less time you got.”

About Aurélien she says:
“I’m a fan of our love.”

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Inès

Ines left us too this week
She is a beautiful, spirited young lady
She has claws and she can bite
for that reason she found a new home
before she left we had time to become friends

What makes you happy?
“meow, meow, meow” (sardines, half the bed in the middle of the night, ruling the house)

What do you think about age?
“ meow?”
(what you talking about?)

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I miss them all.

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Blue Kaouki

Blue Kaouki
it’s the name of a hotel
in Sidi Kaouki
long beach, pounding waves, surfers, camels, goats, dogs with teeth that mean it
travelers, campground, hotels, restaurants, surf shack, bicycles
low key
laid back
lovely

our job here is to welcome clients, make breakfast (on the rooftop patio), keep the place tidy
easy

there has only been few clients at a time
only so much to do
we end up chatting, hanging out throughout the day
sharing a little of our lives
I love it
we met a few germans, some english folks, a lovely french couple

Claudia turned 30 while she was here
the big three o
on Friday the 13th
I made her some nice fluffy pancakes with honey syrup
good start to her day

I like this job of easing people’s morning
serve coffee and fresh pressed orange juice
flip an egg
serve that delicious  Moroccan bread
(it is delivered warm around 8 every morning)

we will be here until the end of our trip
over the next four weeks
I’ll introduce you to some of our clients
a snapshot and a quote
(yes, yes, I am inspired by humans of New York, the clever idea is not mine)
here’s the first

Drusilla

This lady came in with a cane, luggage and bottles of wine. She told me her doctor told her not to travel. She has been coming to Morocco for years. She is now writing a novel that takes place here. She likes to write at night with a glass of wine and a cigaret. Classic.

What do you like about Morocco?
– I like the people. People don’t care about how you look. They care about who you are.

What makes you happy?
– The lack of pain.

What bugs you?
– Rudeness

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Tagounite

I missed a week
so much can happen in a short laps of time
after almost a month in Morocco we headed south east towards the desert
to a place called Tagounite where our host Mohamed Alibouche was waiting for us
we didn’t quite know what to expect
we were going to “helpx” once more and got in touch with Mohamed through email
we thought that maybe he had a farm in the oasis and we’d help in the fields

it was night when we arrived
a thin man welcomed us and helped us with our luggage to his house
the streets were dry and dusty
the houses; square, blocky, seemed unfinished, as if more floors were to be added

we got to his door
a heavy metal door
and entered the house

it is dark
to my left is a living room
it is a long concrete room with high ceiling
the floor is covered with carpets
along the walls are cushions
in a corner a rudimentary propane burner, a tea pot, glasses, a small plastic container
near by a plastic blue kettle sitting on a basin
I will find out later that this is use to wash our hands
someone pours the water which is collected in the basin
it is done before and after each meals
the room has no furniture
the walls are bare
there is a window with shutters that open to an indoor courtyard

to my right is the water room
a round concrete well is set in one corner
it has a wood cover on it
a pulley, a rope with plastic jugs on both ends is what is used to pull the water and fill up buckets
in the other corner, is a squat toilet

we visit the rest of the house which has two more room similar to the living room
one will be our bedroom, the other is a room shared by Mohamed, his wife and their three young daughters
the last room is yet another long room
at one end is the kitchen
on a simple table sits a propane stove with three burners
there are a few pots and pans
a pressure cooker
few utensils
there is a large fridge and a 50 kg bag of flour
at the other end of the room there is a computer on a makeshift table
a box with a pillow is used for a chair
the door by the computer opens to an outdoor courtyard where cabbage have been transplanted
there is a small patch of wheat; mint and sunflowers are starting to grow
what looks like sticks to me turn out to be a variety of fruit trees
all of this has been planted or transplanted recently

in one corner of the courtyard rests a clay oven
next to it there is a good pile of dry palm leaves
in another corner is a compost pile
one side of the courtyard gives entrance to another guest room
there is also a smaller space that Mohamed wishes to make into a hammam some day

the house is most simple
has the very basics
yet it has all one needs to function
for us it may feel like camping

we are welcomed to the living room where tea is made
tea is made and drank several times a day
we meet Khadjo (Mohamed’s wife) and their three beautiful girls
Khadjo’s mother is there as well as one of their nephew

throughout our stay we will meet several friends and family members
not one day goes by where one or several of them drop by for tea, for a meal, or for a place to spend the night
at meal time one or two short plastic round tables are brought in
we gather around them
the plastic kettle with basin is passed around and everyone washes their hands
a large round plate often filled with vegetable tagine is placed in the middle of the table
someone breaks large pieces of Khadjo’s daily baked bread and places them around the plate
when everyone is seated and ready we start breaking pieces of bread and dipping them in the broth
the bread is used as a spoon
it soaks up the tasty broth and helps to gather some morsels of veggies
all is very tasty
somehow, no matter how many people there are, there is enough food
as the bread is eaten more is passed around
until ultimately everyone is full
when there is meat in the tagine it is divided at the end and everyone gets a share

amazigh is the spoken language
arabic as well but with the three words I know I can’t make the difference
we can not participate in the conversation
we sit, observe and listen
sign language becomes our main way of communication
of course with Mohamed who speaks french fluently and good english
we get some translation

we will spend several days with this family
we will do very little “help”
help if any is for us
to understand a new culture
to open our minds
to appreciate simplicity
to witness ongoing generosity
unquestionable hospitality
extended family

there is much to say about this experience
this is only a rough draft
it would take much more time to understand the multiple layers
and paint a detailed picture
one would have to learn the language
understand history and religion
live for more than a few days
spend seasons
then maybe, just maybe I could tell you

during our stay we visited the desert
we did what tourists do: camel, dunes and all
we were invited to a traditional wedding
which would be a whole other blog
like stepping into a national geographic article
we were hosted by other family members
we learned to go with the flow
drink lots of tea

we’re on the move again tomorrow to small place called Sidi Kaouki
until next time

here are some pictures

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