How does it feel having household help?….More photo outside the Medina…

As we left the restaurant on Monday, we walked the newer area checking out other restaurants in the area, reading their menus posted outside.

It’s raining again today making it necessary to cancel our plans to go out.  Impossible to use an umbrella in the crowded souks to avoid poking a passerby in the eye, we’d get wet as the rain soaks through the open slats in the ceilings of the souks.  Not our idea of a pleasant outing, we’ve decided to say indoors.

After exiting the souks its necessary to walk through the Big Square only adding more of a likelihood of getting soaked.  The last time we went out in the rain, my shoes were soaked from being splashed by fast moving motorbikes and being shoved into puddles by less than courteous tourist crowds.

Hey, this is the nature of living in the Medina which we accept graciously.  Content to stay in today we look forward to another great dinner made by the loving hands and heart of Madame Zahra, assisted by Oumaima and later Adil who serves at dinnertime.  We appreciate their generosity and diligence to our service.

This looked like a quaint French restaurant but, after reviewing their menu, there were few options we’d have chosen.

For us, having “servants” (excuse the word) would never be a preferred way of life.  At times, we’ve heard others say, “If I won the lottery, I’d want people to wait on me.”  Not us. 

Although, most of my working life I did employ a helper to tackle the big weekly cleaning and many live-in nannies when my two sons were young. I was a single mom for nine years, owned a business and had no family in town to help.  Other than those circumstances, I’ve never thought of or desired service staff as we have available to us now.

Over the past almost 23 years that Tom and I have been together, we’ve never minded the day to day cooking, dishes, tidying up after ourselves, laundry and making the bed. 

It’s spring in Morocco now with flowers blooming.

With our dear past cleaning helper in Minnesota, Teresa, coming to clean once a week, we had it all under control. We felt fortunate to have the help but, we always cleaned up before she arrived, removing any clutter, making it easier for her to work.

We do the same here at Dar Aicha.  We leave no clutter for the staff to handle picking up our bath towels, changing the empty roll of the TP, clearing our stuff off of counter tops and placing all of our dirty clothes in the designated laundry bags in each of the two bathrooms we use (I have my own bathroom to avoid awaken Tom in the mornings if I arise earlier).

When we first arrived, it felt awkward to get up from the dinner table and not to clear the dishes.  In a short time, we accepted it as one would when dining in a restaurant, never giving the dishes a thought.

Flowers cascading down a wall.

We never ask nor do we expect the staff to “wait on us” during the day.  If we need something, we get it ourselves.  We make our ice cubes using the trays provided, make our pitchers of iced tea and refill our glasses as needed, never thinking of asking for assistance.

Madame Zahra and Oumaima clean the house seven days a week arriving around 9:00 am when we’re always up and dressed for the day.  The stone floors are all washed from room to room, no less than twice a week.  They clean our bathrooms from top to bottom daily, replacing soaps, TP and tissue as needed.  The entire riad is always clean, dust and dirt free.  It’s hard work which we fully appreciate.

After we’ve eaten dinner we’re sensitive to getting up from the dining table as soon as we’re done with our meal. The three of them stay until the table is cleared and the dishes are washed, often until well after 7:00 pm.  We usually have dinner at 6:30.  We’re well aware that we’d like for them to be able to leave as soon as possible to enjoy what’s left of their evening.

This is a Vietnamese restaurant with the menu written in Arabic and French. 

Once a week we pay Samir for the meals we’ve had during the previous week at a rate of US $24.56, MAD 200 per dinner for the two of us.  Halfway through our time here which will be next Monday, we’ll generously provide tips for all of them and then again prior to leaving.  We’ve found this show of appreciation midway through our stay is important for their morale, especially when our typical stay is considerably longer than other guests.

Are we getting tired of not being able to cook? The only thing I miss is having our usual coleslaw with dinner.  Tom misses the homemade pizza.  I’m sure that within a day of arriving in Madeira we’ll be off to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make both of these and more. 

Do I miss doing laundry?  I haven’t done laundry since last summer when we lived in Tuscany from June 16th to August 31st making it seven months since I’ve done a load of wash and hanging it outdoors. 

This is a laboratory which patients visit for various blood and medical tests.

Always a proud laundress acquiring good skills over the years in the careful handling of stains, white and delicates, I must admit I do kind of miss it.  I used to do laundry daily, taking a weird sense of pleasure in the feel of the warm clothes coming out of the dryer, the folding and putting it away. 

Now, all we do is put away our neatly folded clothing left on a cloth bench upstairs near the bedrooms, everything perfect and folded more neatly than I may have done in the past.

How do we feel to have people around us for over 10 hours a day?  Many days, we’re out for almost half a day.  When we don’t dine in, which is approximately every other day, they do the usual cleaning in the morning leaving by noon with the remainder of the day to spend as they choose. 

Many apartment buildings line the main roads.

As for days such as today, when they’re with us all day, we don’t mind at all.  Adil is in and out a few times each day. After cleaning, Madame and Oumaima spend most of their time in the kitchen preparing the food, occasionally resting in a little room off of the kitchen.  While we’re dining they stay in the kitchen closing off a curtain to the dining room providing us with privacy.

The sweet sound of Madame Zahra’s voice when we hear her talking on the phone or to the others, reminds us of Julia Child’s voice, high pitched and tender.  That sound will be etched in my mind forever, as truly music to my ears.

Tonight, dining in on this day of heavy rain, I just heard the front door close as Madame took off covered from head to toe to purchase the food for tonight’s dinner at the shops she and the locals use, assuring the freshest of products. 

Once we entered this small shopping area where we purchased our nuts and cheese, it reminded us of a Walmart store.  With many open nut stands appealing to tourists in the Big Square, it is tempting to purchase them there.  But after purchasing a small bag of pistachios, at US $18.42, MAD 150, which were unsalted, we prefer to purchase salted nuts for one third of the price at the grocery store. Also, with my recent illness, we are especially careful in not purchasing any food from open stands exposed to the elements, insects and possible unsanitary conditions. 

All of the local produce is organic, although not certified and the meat, grass fed from local farms. 

The chickens are particularly interesting, as is usual in true free range organic chickens…there’s lot less meat on them when they aren’t being fed grains and chemicals.  When I can clean off a leg bone in two bites I smile knowing this is good chicken.

The local farmers can’t afford to use all the chemicals used in US farming.  Recently, we discovered that 80% of the world’s pesticides are used in the US. Oh, I won’t get on this soapbox today but, perhaps another day.

It was surprising to see a familiar brand name store.

We’ve adjusted to their assistance and their presence, feeling grateful to have these kind, caring and special individuals tending to our needs.  It’s truly an experience we’ll always remember, adding to our repertoire of the unique episodes in our continuing journey to see the world.

It’s all good.

I tried to get a photo of all of the Seven Pillars that represent the original builders of the city of Marrakech.  In the fast moving traffic, this was all I could capture. 


Photo from one year ago today, April 2, 2013:

We posted this photo of the beach in front of our home in Belize on the day there was a problem with the city water, leaving us without water for showering, flushing etc.  For the full story from that day, please click here.

Comments and responses How does it feel having household help?….More photo outside the Medina…

  1. Sally Davis Reply

    Oh, and the chicken you said was smaller in size than chickens in the USA – that's not because of grain. That's because of genetics.

    The chickens raised for consumption in the US are Cornish crosses. They are genetically predisposed to gain weight, to the point that food has to be removed from their run for several hours a day or they will eat themselves to death. They really can't live much past about 10-12 weeks old – they get so obese that they die of heart attacks, or develop terrible leg problems.

    The parents survive because they are separate breeds, who are crossed specifically to produce the hybrid chicks.

    We raise Buff Orpingtons, which is a dual- purpose old-fashioned breed. We want both eggs and meat. So we hatch out some eggs and allow the little pullets (females) to live and butcher the cockerals for meat at about 12 weeks old. And our meat, while very good, consists of smaller pieces than the commercial Cornish crosses. It's also more "chickeny."

    I assure you we feed our chickens a diet of grain from birth – GMO grain, BTW. They do very well on it. and are "free ranged" in a special movable cage that allows them to peck at the ground.

    Sorry about the "anonymous" post previous to this. I just failed to click on the right thing.

  2. Jessica Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing these interesting points about raising chickens. We appreciate you taking the time to read our posts and write to us. The world of farming is far from familiar to us but we enjoy learning everything we can.

    Warmest regards,
    Jess & Tom

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