Morocco 1961

Jan. 15 – 1961 –
Startling news. My father is going to quit his job and join the American Friends Service Committee! We are all going overseas to French West Africa to help the poor refugees who have nowhere to go. Tune in! We are having a party on the 20th and then we sell everything!

Samedi Nov 4 1961- Dare El Baraka Oujda, Morocco
I have decided a few times of my life to keep a diary for weeks, months, even a year. Again I am attempting it. I am reading about Marie Antoinette. Fascinating.
School is a true horror hateful because I speak only enough French to carry on a poor conversation (hello, how are you, what is your name, etc.) M. Touati gets angry at me every day comparing me unfavorably to Carol Pixton who was apparently an angel. Just had singing class –think I grasped a few words.

Sun. Nov 5 – 61
Day is cold, crisp and clear – Mom and Dad and Avril went for a drive on the bled, Genevieve and Bill went for a ride on their bikes. (He is 24 and engaged. Not that it stops him making out with Genevieve every chance he gets. He can be a real pain – or a human being – sometimes.) I told him I intend to be an author someday and he both frustrated and flattered me saying I’d better “get something to write about”. I told him to climb a tree.

Mon. Nov 6 – 61
Back to school, very tired because I couldn’t sleep last night. Genevieve broke my doll on purpose and I hid in the garden while everyone searched for me. Asma my Algerian friend gave me a small box of licorice from the licorice seller who stands on a bloodstain right outside our gates (reputed to have murdered a little boy there.) Penny a box (5 francs).

Turns out it is against the rules to eat in school. M. Touati said “Donne moi le boite.” (Asma said my lips were “noir”.) He asked if I was eating, I confessed, he asked Asma and she denied it (her lips were noir as well.) I wouldn’t satisfy him with a lie. I did my recitation, He said my pronunciation was terrible. (He speaks a little English. His pronunciation is terrible too.)

Tues. Nov 7 – 61
School sheer drudgery. I think longingly of death. I am still behind Carol. Mom says she had a French tutor all summer! That took a lift off my back. Genevieve and I bought the most delicious tarts at the Colombo Café – cherry chocolate cheesecake.

Sun. Nov 12 – 61
We usually take a trip on Sundays and Mom wanted to see the sea. (Mediterranean. Why, since the whole country is turning to sand?) Went to Cap de L’eau and had to ford a river –the Citroen has a special gear to raise it up. Neat. Rode on a ferryboat – Bill talked to the man in Arabic. Showing off. Cap de L’eau was not as spectacular as I’d been led to believe. It was windy and there was a dust storm. Bill offered to be a Seeing Eye dog and tried to push me off a cliff. Joking, he said.

Mon. Nov 13 – 61
Trudged back to school with crowds of children shouting “Romain!” at me (I think it means foreigner.) They put in the second grade hoping I’d learn something. I didn’t. Mr. Touati loaded us to our ears with homework. Took our guests to the Avril’s ballet recital (she was the only one not allowed to wear stage makeup courtesy Mom). Genevieve played flute with the Oujda Symphony. Sat way up in the balcony. It was wonderful!

Tues Nov. 14 – 61
School awful. I was hoping to recite my poem (learned all but one verse) but we had a science test which I did lousily on. No one did the homework.
Dad took away my Agatha Christie and insisted I read The Forbidden Voyage about a family who sailed into the nuclear testing zone. It is interesting. One of our guests here at the Dar was aboard the Golden Rule, which was the same sort of boat.

Fez – Thurs Nov 16 – 61
Taken out of school in the afternoon (I had to go in the morning) so we could go to Fez! What a day! Car ride uneventful, arrived after dark. I changed from sailor hat and slacks to skirt and blouse at the hotel. I wanted to go back to the Hotel de la Paix after dinner but the family wanted to go to the Medina (in the middle of the night!) I said ‘I refuse” and stomped up the stairs. (I would rather read Wuthering Heights.) Genevieve came after me and said I’d got Mom in a frenzy. I said I didn’t care. (Did care.) Daddy came up to get me and led me sobbing down the stairs. Mom said she would stay in the hotel with me but I refused to ruin the trip for mother. They said Genevieve could stay. We smuggled tangerines and peanuts in our suitcase so we had a good night.

Fez – Fri – Nov 17 – 61
Coffee instead of chocolate for breakfast! Then we went to the Medina (by daylight) and saw everything including the mosque where we could hear them chant the Koran. (If you aren’t a Moslem you can’t go in.) They take off their shoes to keep the mosque clean.
Vulgar street boys threw mud at us (Bill said they think we are French.) Went to the Palais de Fes (that’s how they spell it) and bought a few things. I got a knitted hat and a Moroccan purse. We had a good lunch (lamb) but had to wait a long time. Dad joked they had to go find a lamb. They brought us water to wash our hands at the table. I played with their cat and had to wash my hands again. But it was delicieux.

Fez Saturday Nov 18 – 61
Went to eighth century town Moulay Idis which was adorable and bought some pottery. Saw the outside of the Famous Tomb you can’t enter in if you are an unbeliever, also marks on the doors that mean someone has tuberculosis inside. We had to leave before dark – you can’t spend the night if you are a heretic so we went to Volubilis instead which is really beautiful a Roman ruin where I bought a lot of postcards. (I like the cranes building huge nests on the orange columns.)
Dined again at the Nautilus – the hotel restaurant. I had steak and pommes frites, yogurt and sugar with oranges to take back to our room. Daddy gave Avril money to put into the blind beggar’s tin can.

Fez to the Dar – Sun Nov 19 – 61
A near perfect day. Genevieve gave me her peanuts to eat. Went to the Medina one last time – got a guide who looked like a hood. Visited the tanneries – the stench was unbelievable. I held my nose which Bill said was rude (he is colorblind and also no sense of smell. Almost as pathetic as the hotel beggar.)

Tues. Nov 2 – 61
School: horrid. M. Touati in a bad mood, tearing up people’s notebooks and slapping poor Belanger. Made him crouch beneath the teacher’s desk as punishment. Genevieve says they are forcing her to write with her right hand – don’t care that she’s been left-handed since birth.
My cat Christopher has a girlfriend – the cook Embarka’s white cat. She is very pretty. He yells outside my window for extra food for her.

Wed 22 Nov 61
M. Touati says bring 200 Fr so we can go to the circus. If you don’t bring them you can’t go.  I am bringing 200 for Asma. M. covered my paper about the beggar man with red marks because I looked up the verbs expressifs. I thought that’s what they wanted. I asked Mom aren’t we celebrating Thanksgiving?  Apparently not.  But Merrill is coming home from school in Switzerland for Christmas. She says she’s engaged. (She gets engaged every year.) Dad says never wear a bikini in front of your intended – they are Guaranteed to Lose Control.  But the NY Times writer’s wife wore the smallest bathing suit ever seen on a human person and Dad acted thrilled to see her.

Thurs Nov 23 – 61
We had a turkey after all! Mom said I asked in front of someone who wasn’t invited so that’s why she lied. There’s no figuring her out.

Past midnight 
The Spanish circus was wonderful.  There was a fat strong lady who lifted up eight people, some of them on an iron pole on her nose.  The tightrope walker Minni was everybody’s favorite but I liked the strong lady best. Minni had a man standing beneath her the whole time as if he could catch her when she fell! I guess they were just hoping it would kill him and only cripple her but luckily she didn’t fall. (We deduced he was her papadaddy.) The juggling was impossible!  They played American rock n roll in French! (“Ne racroche pas”.)  Mom and Bill shook their heads over the Americans spoiling Arab culture. I think their culture could use some spoiling since grown men chase little girls down the street if they have the nerve to wear Bermuda shorts.
Sun. Nov 27 – 61
Slept late – glorious day.  Fed Christopher – he is very jealous if I give the other cats attention.  He hates to be picked up (he never seems to hate me for attempting it) but he will allow petting. That’s OK, he used to be completely wild. I love his wild free heart. 
Mon Nov 28 – 61
Reading the Times – fallout, war, horror and death.  Why do these things have to happen in my generation?  I don’t hate anybody. I love the world and I don’t want to destroy it. 

Fri. Dec 3 - 61
Zoubida came with a little friend who spoke only Arabic and I entertained them.  All they wanted to do was eat green figs and knock berries off the tree. I went to get a ladder.  The berries were delicious; we divided them up equally. Majahead taught them how to make spears from bamboo.

Mom drove them home and they invited us in. They seemed rich to me (her father is a general) but served that mint tea so full of sugar you can stand a spoon.  You have to drink it or they are insulted. My sisters are running roughshod over me telling me to stop writing so they can turn off the light. A person can’t record their thoughts around here without being bullyragged. 
Today we had a student teacher,  Hopefully M. Touati is dead.  My birthday’s soon and they owe me $7. Good night!

Samedi 2 Dec 61
27 wrong in dictée.  Mr. Touati shook Carol Pixton is my face again.  That girl’s a blight. Poor Maurice Belanger under the teacher’s desk again. We had a singing contest at recess, singing in our own languages. The Arabic’s the best. 

Wed. Dec 6 - 61
Maria the Swiss nurse gave me a box of decorations for my party. Dad and Paul came home from their trip – Dad’s growing a beard – yuck!  I wore my red dress with the daisies. I got a Moroccan inlaid box with a necklace (which I’m wearing) the ragged bear from Warwick Castle. A copper bell from Rheims with the cathedral on the front and bath talc also.  Good naturedly conceited Genevieve gave me two of her old bras. First time I ever wore a bra. Avril watched me put it on.  Embarka made a wondrous cake and her famous fudge balls.  I was glowing.  Ideal afternoon at school. I came home and wrote eight letters.
At dinner Genevieve was so obnoxious I left the table without eating (all I wanted was cake.) Dad said no one should go near me I was “off the rails”.  Homework, homework, homework.

Thurs Dec 7 - 61
Today was generally miserable but maybe I’m exaggerating. Accidentally dropped Zackia’s pencil sharpener out the window. Feels funny wearing a bra! They tried to teach us Arabic in the afternoon! I’m having enough trouble with French! I think I’ll lead a revolt. M. le Directeur is sick with bowel trouble. Moroccan food is a shock. 

In the evening went to a Brahms concert. It was good. Afterwards Avril and I built a tent out of blankets and sweaters. One bathroom being fixed, the other generally in use so I went outside! 

Sun Dec 10 – 61
Took Zoubida rock climbing – she doesn’t get much exercise.  The countryside is beautiful.  Saw a lamb that had just been born. 

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