Rug-making Village

We went to a moroccan village to watch a woman make traditional style rugs. The rugs were their primary source of income, and their village consisted of only a few housing structures made from rocks, mud, and tin cans. They said each rug took about a month to make.

Behind their housing, they spread all their rugs out for us to browse. Each one cost 400 Dirhams, which was about 50 USD. Almost everyone bought something. We all felt as though we were doing good by bringing them business.
When I walked away, I went back to the children playing at the front of the village. They all ran up to look at my rug, but immediately found the price tag on it and backed away with expressions that I felt certain were indications that their impressions of me had changed. We played futbol with them, chased them, and played with them before looking at the rugs, but when they saw how much money I had, or how much money they imagined I had, things changed.

They asked us for money and started playing with us  aggressively. They slapped us and tried to get us to repeat arabic phrases that we couldn’t understand, but were obviously offensive. One boy asked for a drink of my water, and I knew I couldn’t drink after him or I would most likely get sick, so I let him have the whole bottle. I didn’t get more water until the next day and ended up getting very sick and dehydrated anyway.

I hardly made it out of the village without crying, just from being completely overwhelmed by my feelings. That divide between us instilled by the concept of wealth, or lack thereof, entirely deconstructed our relationships. While we were all humans talking and playing together before, money changed our roles in the situation. I felt so alienated, and so so guilty for who I was to them. This was the most emotional part of my entire experience in Morocco, but it was also very crucial. I saw what capital did to a culture firsthand in a very raw and personal way.

 

-Kelly Cline

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