We are getting much closer to having a furnished apartment. As of yesterday, there is no room in the apartment that is completely empty. I wrote a piece last year about the phrase “shweeya bu shweeya” that one often hears. It translates to little by little in English and is used to indicate a process that might take a long time to complete, but that progress is being made continuously, even if in small increments. We normally hear the phrase with respect to language acquisition, but it is equally as applicable to education in general, playing a musical instrument, or learning to play a game like golf.
Furnishing an apartment obviously requires no such long term commitment, but we have been at this task now for about eighteen months, and “shweeya bu shweeya” we have arrived at a point where we can actually invite guests over for a meal. Denise bit the bullet this past week and purchased what we would call living room furniture. It will be used in one of the two salons we have. In Moroccan culture the salon functions as both living room and dining room, since the meals are served to guests while sitting in the salon.
Denise opted for an American style sofa since the traditional Moroccan sofas or “frashes” do not have a back support. Only a pillow is provided for back comfort, and sitting on that type of sofa is one of the reasons Denise struggles with increased back pain while we are here. Last week she found something she liked at a big box store here in Fes similar to Ikea. Unfortunately she had to go to a second store, similar in type to the first, to find a couple of additional chairs. The final piece of furniture she thought necessary is a traditional Moroccan table so that a meal can be served in the salon.
Although getting everything safely here turned out to be less formidable than the circus we created in 2013 with our first efforts at getting furniture in place, we still had some challenges. The store where Denise purchased the sofa had free delivery and brought it to our address in less than an hour after it was purchased. However, the chairs were from a store much further out of town that did not deliver. I took Houssine, Zoubida’s grandson with me, and we convinced a Petit Taxi driver to take us to the store and wait while we went in and made the purchase. We promised to take no more than fifteen minutes since Denise had already selected the chairs and knew they were in stock. The store is so far from the center of town that the drivers don’t want to risk not having a fare for the trip back. He waited for us, and we brought the two chairs out and at first glance thought they would not fit inside the taxi. The taxi has a rack on the top and the driver thought we could set one of the chairs there, but he had no rope or twine to tie it down so I told him we had to find a better solution. Houssine determined that by turning one chair a quarter turn with the legs in the same direction, he could fit the two in the back seat, and still be able to sit fairly comfortably with both chairs inside.
The table was a different story. Denise purchased it from a little shop about a half mile down the boulevard where we live. We had made a couple of trips earlier and she found the style she wanted. However she wanted a black one and the patron said it would take about an hour to bring it over from storage; come back later. Houssine and I did exactly that, the table was there, and we were left only with the task of getting it back to the apartment.
Around town where a lot of tradesmen make all kinds of articles, there are usually truck owners sitting around waiting to be hired for transportation purposes. Sure enough, there were several “peek-up” owners nearby and we obtained his service for forty dirhams, currently about four dollars. Houssine rode in the back of the truck to keep the table from banging around while I rode in the cab, saving taxi fare at least. Big spender that I am, I gave the owner a fifty dirham bill when we arrived, a whole one dollar tip. Forty dirhams I considered a very reasonable fee, given that gas here costs about $4.50 a gallon.
When we arrived at the apartment, a shop owner who has become a friend since we rented the apartment, gladly helped Houssine carry the table up the three flights of stairs to set it in place. They seem anxious to help old guys like me. I think the pictures demonstrate that we now have an attractive, functional space that will allow us to have friends over as time and energy permit.
Denise even made another shopping trip today and you can see that now we even have a tablecloth to complete the ensemble. “Shweeya bu shweeya” I think we might eventually finish the task of having the place completely furnished.
Pictures by Denise and Houssine