The next three days went by more in a blur as I melted into the daily life of Abdellah, Amal and the kids. On Friday, we all slept in and Amal made a lovely couscous with pumpkin and fava beans for lunch before Abdellah had to go off to the university. In the afternoon, Amal and I dropped the kids off at the preschool and then we looked around a sporting goods store, which had EVERYTHING you could imagine in the way of sports and adventure equipment, before driving to a lovely, well-groomed and gardened neighborhood where there was a exercise center for women. I relinquished my phone at the front desk, so I could sit and watch the ladies swim through the glass door. Photos and videos of the bathing beauties was strictly prohibited! Amal went in to change. Three women made their way out one by one in their swimming suits and bathing caps and it wasn’t until she waved at me and smiled broadly, that I knew which one was Amal! They practiced intensely, kicking their legs, back and forth across the pool, which was just wide enough for three lanes and long enough for about 10 strokes. Later, they added in their arms, doing the crawl. At one point, one of the associates, whom I was introduced to at the front desk, talked to me for a few minutes, warmly, and welcomed me. As I was waiting for Amal to come back out, I asked if I could go watch, when I heard party music coming from one of the far rooms. I was told, “Of course,” and went to see women of varying ages doing Zumba-like moves in a dance studio. It made me smile and want to join it!
Afterwards, we went to pick up the kids. They were waiting in a small, darkened room with a few other children, as it was quite late in the afternoon. It became quickly apparent that Anir was overly tired and though Amal tried to appease with him by going to get something to eat nearby with him, he had a meltdown and they returned to where Simane and I were swinging on the swings at the school. Anir came over and was talking to me in Dariya. I thought he wanted to get on the swing, so I let him. I asked Amal what he was saying, when he did not get on the swing. He wanted me to go get some food and apparently said it in a none-too-polite way. So then Amal wanted him to apologize to me. He came over and said “Pardon” and gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek. But Amal told him, he needed to tell me “Sorry” in English, and this he had trouble with. Finally after much wailing and cajoling, he came over and yelled “Sorry” right in my face! It was rather jarring but also rather funny, and I started feeling sorry for him. Eventually, he was able to apologize in a nice way and everything was okay again.
Amal asked if I wanted to go to a French style supermarket or a Moroccan, and I answered, “Moroccan, of course!” First we looked at the book section where there were both books in Arabic and in French; perhaps a few English books were thrown in. It was fun to see what was for sale, and I contemplated buying a teapot, some tea, some dates, but then decided to just stick with Amal and the kids. We were all getting hungry, so Amal selected some yummy tarts with fresh raspberries on top and vanilla custard inside and offered one to me to munch on, and she started in on one as well. I was slightly surprised, as I would never dare to eat something I hadn’t paid for yet, but I knew she would save the price labels and pay when we left. We’d been shopping for some time, when suddenly Abdellah appeared! He and Amal decided to get some warm food to eat right in the store – I had some Moroccan pastry with meat inside, the kids had pizza. After we had finally packed up the groceries in the one of the cars, Amal asked if I wanted to go shopping somewhere else and I said, “I’m quite shopped out, thanks!”
Once inside the car with Abdellah, he revealed that we would go visit his uncle that evening! We went back to the apartment parking lot and got into one car together and headed out for a new part of town. The building seemed rather new and the apartment bright with a grand salon (living room) and a very long wraparound sofa in a U-shaped turquoise brocade. His uncle’s wife greeted us and she seemed fairly young, with a cute toddler and school-aged son. I was thinking, “Wow, the uncle married someone much younger than him.” So I was surprised, when said uncle came home, to find that he was about the same age as Abdellah, late 30s/early 40s! Turned out Abdellah’s father has many siblings, some much younger than he! The TV was tuned to a soccer game. The children all went off to play in another room, and Dariya was spoken. I tried very hard to understand just single word, but failed! Sweet mint tea was served on a lovely tea service with LOTS of tea glasses and some pastries and salty snacks. As the night wore on, I started to fade, but just then Amal started making a move to get up and we soon after headed home.