Hi Hi’s

We left Marrakech on the 2nd for a small Berber village a few miles shy of the Atlas mountains. We’ve been staying with our Berber host family ever since. Just like the last family I stayed with, this family too has a small child, a girl, who is quite bubbly and friendly with strangers.

Our first night here Billy and I sat and played cards with Khalid, a member of the family, while the little girl, Assia, watched on, occasionally grabbing a card and handing it to one if us as if she had just happened upon it and thought we might need it. After taking the card she would say “gooood,” and laugh like a little imp. Adding to her impish appearance is a nasty scab running across the bridge of her nose. Apparently she got the injury from running face-first into a table.

Our host family takes in guests from all over the world, so two-year old Assia knows a handful of English words: good, yeah, snail, bye, and banana being just a few, although we later learned that banana is the same in English as it is in Arabic.

When she wasn’t snatching the cards, Assia spoke long sentences to Khalid, and he would respond and she would keep talking. “What is she saying?” asked Billy.

“Nothing,” said Khalid, “she’s just babbling.”

Despite her babble, Assia has a language all her own. Every time she sees us she says “Hi Hi.” We naturally assumed she was simply greeting us, until one night at dinner Khalid informed us otherwise.

“Hi Hi is her word for foreigners. She calls all the guests Hi Hi’s.”

“All this time we thought she was being friendly” said Billy.

Assia grinned and began speaking to Khalid. “Yes. Now she’s threatening to cut off your ears.” I would dismiss this threat from two-year old Assia if I hadn’t seen how easily she can find the kitchen knife.

“Gooood,” she said.


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