My previous post discussed Berber tales. In my quest to find more stories, I stumbled into another cultural niche that I was unaware of: riddles. The following are riddles that people have told me.
A big truck, filled with watermelons, is driving down the road. Little by little, it comes upon a stretch in the road where there is lots of ice and snow. The driver is afraid to pass for fear that the truck will crash, ruining the watermelons. What does he do? (There are no watermelons during winter).
It is the evening before the day of l-Eid, so everyone is on the lookout for the new moon setting in the Western horizon (the new moon will signify that the next day is l-Eid). A man says that he saw the new moon while praying. How do we know he is lying? (The moon sets in the West. Muslims all over the world face Medina while they pray, which is to the East for Moroccans).
A man is walking down the road and he sees a dog in the middle of the road laying an egg. He is afraid to pass. What does he do? (Dogs don’t lay eggs).
There is an island that is close to the mainland. On the mainland sits a man. On the island there is a banana tree full of bananas. On the top of the tree there is a monkey. The man on the mainland wants to eat bananas. What does he do? (The man throws rocks at the monkey. The monkey will retaliate by throwing monkeys back).
A man is driving a truck very fast. Some cloth covering the bed of the truck suddenly comes forward on top of the windshield, blocking his view. What does he do? (The cloth couldn’t come forward if he was driving fast).
There is a wife and husband. The wife tells her husband to go bake bread. He does it. Why? (He is afraid that she will hit him with a stick).
A man is picking grapes from a grapevine above his head. Melting snow on the grapes is getting in his eyes, making it hard for him to work. What does he do? (There isn’t snow during grape harvest time).
There is a wife and husband. The husband is a midget and the wife is very tall. The husband is thirsty, so he asks his wife to pick him up and put him on top of the sink. Once on the sink, he drinks until he quenches his thirst. Then he picks up a pan and hits his wife with it, killing her. He cries. Why is he upset? (Because he can’t get down from the sink).
A man is driving down the road in a truck. The road winds along next to a large mountain. The man looks towards the mountain and sees a large rockslide falling down the mountainside, coming towards his truck. What does he do? (You only look forward while you are driving, so he couldn’t have seen the rockslide).
When you put water in the freezer, it turns solid, into ice. This is true for all liquids. What is the one thing that turns from liquid into solid when you put it in the oven? (An egg).
There is something that eats and eats and eats. It will eat anything. The more it eats, the bigger it gets. It cannot be satiated. However, if it drinks water, it will die. What is it? (Fire).
There is a river that a man wants to cross. However, he can’t because something will be ashamed. What will be ashamed? (His shoes, because they will get wet).
What is the one thing that can cross a river without getting wet? (A shadow).
Three people traveling come upon a river that they must cross. When they cross, one person sees the river and gets wet. One person sees the river, but does not get wet. And one does not see the river and does not get wet. How is this possible? (The first person is a pregnant woman who crosses the river. The second is the child the woman is carrying on her back. And the third is her unborn child).
What can send words without talking? (A letter).
A man is traveling with a fox, a sheep, and some grass. They come upon a river that they must cross. There is a boat, but it will only fit the man and one of his objects at a time. If the man leaves the fox with the sheep, it will eat the sheep. If the man leaves the sheep with the grass, it will eat the grass. What does he do? (He accompanies the sheep across the river. Leaves it there and returns. Next he takes the fox across, when he returns, he brings the sheep back. Then he takes the grass over, leaving it with the fox. He returns for the sheep).
There are three men and three women who want to cross a river. The boat can only fit two people at once. A woman cannot be in the presence of another man unless her husband is present (because the man will take advantage of her – this tidbit is unspoken, but assumed to be common knowledge). What is the solution? (Too complicated to explain. You need rocks or some objects to represent the men and women in order to figure out the puzzle).
A man is crossing the ocean with all of his things, animals, clothes, etc. The boat is filled to capacity; if the weight increases just the slightest bit, it will sink. His chicken lays an egg. Does the boat sink? Why or why not? (It doesn’t sink because the egg was already in the chicken, so the weight of the load doesn’t increase).
As you see, there is a wide variety of riddles. Some of them are legitimately difficult. Some are really easy. Some make no sense. I’ve been told others, but couldn’t remember them. Learning these riddles and telling them to other people once I’ve learned them is so much fun. People love them and the stories. I’m going to work on songs next, but those are harder. The song post might not be until summer, when wedding season is (and everyone sings songs).
I’m in the midst of my busiest time as a Peace Corps volunteer. I’ve had an activity every day for the past week and a half. And this coming week I’m going to Fes to help with an English camp. Every year the Youth Development volunteers put on week-long camps for junior high kids all over the country. Other volunteers come for the week to help with English and teach some lessons on their own. I’m going to be doing a HIV/AIDS club. It’s an English intensive class, so we only speak English, which will be nice.
I’m happy to have the work. Doing work with the Traditional Birth Attendants, HIV/AIDS education in schools, and a workshop for hammam (public bath) owners to convince them to convert to more efficient stoves. The only bummer is that a lot of the work takes me out of my site, so I haven’t been here as much as I like to be.