On the Beauty of International Love

Posted on June 19, 2010

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Today, I’m celebrating international love, the sort that makes distances shorter and bridges cultural differences. My fellow blogsherpa blogger Vago of vagobond.com has recently started publishing a series of interviews exploring the joys and complications of having a partner of a different nationality, and you can find my interview about Ferenc, my Hungarian/Swiss partner, and I here.  But before you read about how my partner changed my life, take a look at Vago’s  own musings about his marriage to a Moroccan.

Your name

Vago Damitio

Your blog

http://www.vagobond.com

Your nationality

USA

Spouse’s nationality

Moroccan

Where do you live now? Do you live with your spouse?

We live in the ancient city of Fes, Morocco

Amount of time married

Only two months, still newlyweds!

Are you still married?

Yes. Hopefully we will be able to answer yes to that for a long, long time.

How did you meet?

I was wandering the globe looking for something and I requested to surf on her couch through couchsurfing.com. We felt something right away but it felt like it was impossible and so she kept pushing me away and I kept leaving, but I kept coming back and finally we decided that we had something incredibly special so we spent the next year and a half making the impossible possible.

What was the biggest impediment to getting married?

Moroccan bureaucracy. They wanted papers papers papers and more documentation than I thought it was possible for me to get. It literally took a year to get all the paperwork together. In a way though, it was good because it gave us the time to know we were certain and also, we overcame several challenges by working together.

Where did you get married?

Our legal marriage was in her hometown of Sefrou, Morocco and we recently had our wedding in the Sahara near the famous Erg Chabbi dunes. It was magical and because of her family, sometimes exasperating.

What was your marriage ceremony like?

Surprising. Our wedding was a traditional Berber Nomad ceremony and when they led me out of the room they prepared me in, I was shocked to see that they had placed a bag over her head! You can find all the pictures and descriptions at Vagabond.com

How is the relationship with your in-laws?

I love my in-laws. My father in law is a shepherd and while we don’t have deep conversations because my Arabic isn’t good enough for that, we share a lot of smiles and laughs. My mother-in-law is sweet and good but sometimes I get frustrated when she treats my wife like a servant girl. Luckily though, that doesn’t happen very often anymore. My mother in law also makes the sweetest couscous and bread I’ve ever tasted….

What about your spouse’s with your family?

My wife and mother email each other all the time. They haven’t met in person yet, but it seems like they already have a strong friendship and respect for each other. My brother and sister and their families haven’t met her yet either, but everyone gets along on facebook and via email. We’re a digital family…after all, we met digitally too.

What was your biggest cultural misunderstanding?

I don’t know if it’s the biggest, but one day I didn’t have a napkin so I wiped my hands off on a piece of bread. In Islamic culture this is a huge no-no. My wife was absolutely pissed and it took me nearly an hour to explain to her that I didn’t understand what she was mad about. Apparently it’s a huge sign of disrespect to those feeding you and to God.

Can you tell a funny story about a cultural mishap?

This one is completely my fault. I have a pretty foul mouth and as the primary person my wife speaks English with, she has also developed a pretty foul mouth but without the understanding that what she is saying is foul at all. I should point out that my wife is a pretty devout Muslim woman and in addition is quite petite and innocent looking. One day we were having dinner with American friends and suddenly she stated that her “titties fucking hurt”….there were a few seconds of shocked silence and then laughter. Later when I explained to her, she was pretty mad at me and since then we’ve gone over which words are not really appropriate for company to hear.

Have you traveled with your spouse?

We’ve traveled quite a lot in Morocco. Our first international trip will be in about a month when we go to Turkey. She’s a hardy traveller but likes things a little more luxurious than I usually take them.

If so, has it been challenging? Why?

My wife has a very sensitive nose so she can’t travel on cheap buses because the smells make her nauseous, It took us a while to figure out that she gets motion sickness if her stomach is empty too. Before we had the marriage certificate, we couldn’t stay in the same hotel room in Morocco, and that was also challenging.

Do you have children? If so, what is that like, internationally speaking?

Not yet, but we’d like to someday.

What is the best and the worst thing about international marriage?

The best thing about our international marriage is that we are constantly learning from each other. We try not to take anything for granted and as a result we probably have better communication and less misunderstandings than if we were from the same cultures. The worst thing is that since I am American, I can travel anywhere pretty easily and since she is Moroccan, travel to just about everywhere outside of Morocco is a bureaucratic nightmare…especially if we want to go to the United States or Europe. So far we haven’t because we are still recovering from all the bureaucracy of formalizing our marriage.

 – Text by Denise Pulis @ www.travelwithdenden.wordpress.com and photography by Vago @ www.vagobond.com

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