After the weekend of working at the school, I agreed against my better judgment to go stay the night at Hanane’s family’s house. It was against my better judgment because I never sleep well there. The workers start loading rocks into metal truck beds at 3 am outside the house. Fouad asked if I would be willing to wake at 5 am and drive to the agricultural souk, then drive back and pick up sheep and Khadija and drive back to the Souk again. Of course I said yes, but frankly, I was pretty tired after working Friday night, waking up early Saturday morning, working Saturday and then coming back. We met up briefly with the Polish guys who were supposed to couch surf with me on Sunday night. Apparently they had a bad experience couch surfing in Marrakech and they decided to come to Fez on Saturday instead and skip Sefrou. I had told them I don’t live in Fez and can’t tell them much, but they showed up a day early and wanted to know a cheap hotel, where to catch the bus, where to go at night and so I did my best to help them. I sent them to the main Bab and recommended the cheap Cascade and Evergreen hotels just inside the gate. Hanane and I managed to get them into a taxi even though there were more people crowded around the McDonalds where we met them than I have ever seen before. I think it’s because the King has taken up his summer residence. It was actually pretty funny because when we walked up, they were sitting on the bench with the Ronald McDonald statue and the Polish man’s Russian friend looked quite a bit like a clown himself. He was about 50, round, smiling, missing some teeth, and wore jeans held up by suspenders. Aside from that, we weren’t able to help them much but I told them to ask around the Cascade or Evergreen since those are popular backpacker spots and there will be more information about getting the bus to the airport, nightlife, and more. These guys seemed incredibly inept at travel as they didn’t even have any dirhams on them, just Euros. They had no map or guide, which I of course admired, and somehow they were wondering around Morocco and found me to ask advice in a city I don’t live in.
So, by the time we got back to her house, ate couscous with raisins, and I had agreed to wake up at 5 am, I couldn’t fall asleep because I kept thinking it was time for me to wake up and then at 3 am the rocks started to go into the truck bed and then at 5:00 am I got up and by the time I got on my shoes and went to the door at 5:04 am, Mohammad was driving away without me since without telling me, they’d decided it would be better if I were to sleep! It would have been nice to know. So then I was told to go back to sleep which is usually nearly impossible for me but since I was exhausted, I managed and woke next to Khadija rattling away about something in Derrija. It was time to go, no time for coffee or waking up. I suppose I would have set my alarm if I knew what time to set it for.
Then we loaded the sheep. Four plump dirty yellow sheep. Two big rams and two fat ewes in the back of Mohammad’s car and I drove us to the sheep market.
The biggest holiday of the Muslim year is coming up al-Eid. It’s the holiday that commemorates Ibrahim (Abraham to Christians and Jews) being asked to slaughter his son Ishmael (but Issac to the Jews and Christians) and God then letting him off the hook by slaughtering a ram instead of his son.
Al-Eid will happen on Saturday the 26th. It’s a time of family and food and every family in Morocco (and in most of the Arab world) will slaughter a sheep. It will be a mother fucking blood-bath. Everyone in Morocco will wait until the King kills his sheep and then the blood letting and Bismillah’s will begin.
The sheep have been fattened and given a special diet. In the market, some of the sheep had been cleaned, but most were the same dirty yellow or brown as Hanane’s family’s. There were thousands of sheep in the market and probably through the day, thousands of Arab and Berber men buying or selling sheep. The one’s we took to the market were about 1500 dirhams each, which translates to about $200. That seems like a lot of money for a sheep to me. I’m guessing that they were neither the most expensive nor the cheapest. They didn’t sell. However, that’s not to say that the Souidi family didn’t make any money. Hanane’s dad has a small coffee and tea business set up in a roll door warehouse space. Essentially, he sets up four burners and ten low tables and he slings tea, coffee, bread, boiled eggs, pastries, fried fish, and cigarettes to everyone that is there to either buy or sell. I’ve no idea how many cups or how many cigarettes or how many fish they sold today, but I’m guessing they made at least the price of a sheep. Maybe two. I don’t know.
There was at least one fist fight where one guy punched another in the head over 50 dirhams in negotiating and there were plenty of goats for sale as well as sheep. I have heard that goats are cheaper and that poorer families slaughter them instead of sheep. Personally, I’d rather eat goat, it tastes better. It’s pretty funny to watch people trying to drag their sheep home. The sheep don’t want to help. One way Arab men do it, that is disturbing and funny at the same time, is to lift up the rear legs and put them around their waste and walk the sheep ahead of them like a wheel barrow. Like everywhere there are sheep, there are plenty of stories of men fucking sheep in Morocco and like everywhere, some of them here are certainly true too.