I knew life in Morocco would be different. Hard even. My husband warned me every time I told him we were doing the right thing by going there, and I always responded by promising him that I would be strong. The truth is I had no idea what to expect other than the tidbits I’d gotten here and there over the two years I’d known him before we decided to live here. Once, when I was quipping at having to load the dishwasher and the dryer he pointed out to me that his mother didn’t have machines to help her do the housework. I had no idea what an actual understatement he was making.
In my head, I pictured life in Morocco a little differently from reality. In my vision of what our apartment would look like, I thought in opposites. I pictured a typical kitchen and bathroom, but more utilitarian furniture. For some reason I conjured up the image of a metal framed bed and sparse end tables. A tiny closet tucked in the wall that would only fit a third of the wardrobe I was bringing with me. It was only two weeks before we were to board the plane that I learned about the squat pots. It never occurred to me that we wouldn’t have running hot water. This list can go on, but I think you get the point.
I’ve been told before my visions of Morocco were naïve. Fine. Looking back now, two years later, I suppose I can admit that they were. But, perhaps you’ll see why in a moment. I met my husband very early on in his arrival to the United States. He took showers and ate hamburgers and hot dogs as if he’d been doing these things all his life. While he was impressed by the scenery and big cars, he never really seemed phased by the clothes dryer or shopping in the one-stop-get-everything-you-need- stores like Target. Thus, I had assumed this was at least somewhat typical of his life in Morocco. I didn’t ask otherwise, because I was more interested in other parts of his life at the time, nor did I ever think we’d end up living here.
After we had been in Morocco for about 7 months I turned to him one day and said “when you came to America, were you totally amazed at how it was compared to here?” I just couldn’t believe that he adjusted so quickly given the vast differences in daily life between the two countries. To my surprise he replied “of course” and went on to describe a few things that he noticed so early on…I can’t remember any examples now. But, I do remember feeling relieved that it wasn’t just me who felt these differences.
After two years here what I’ve learned is this. Everyone has a different experience in Morocco. There are some expats who have the means to create a life in Morocco not that different from their lives in America (or other developed nations) so that they can find living in Morocco charming and wouldn’t dream of moving back. There are others who come here with grand ideas of living an exotic life, but can’t handle the differences and head back a little sooner than they had planned. No two stories are the same, and it can often be hard to relate to each other when one feels connected and present in Morocco while another feels isolated and can’t deal with one more bucket shower in the hallway.
As for me, I’m really quite proud of having stuck it out here, but I have missed everything about America more and more as each day passed. I’m leaving here a stronger, better person having learned many lessons in patience and humility. Yet, I know longer feel bad for wanting to go back to the comforts of my homeland, even if people consider such desires as materialistic.