Friday, October 27, 2006


So, before the site announcements I went upstairs to check on my clothing. It's windy outside, and a LOT of my clothes had blown off the line. Fortunately, they were still on the roof. And I had a chance to use the flashlight feature on my Moroccan cell phone to check for stray unmentionables. Way to build up the suspense, huh?

This afternoon, a friend and I took a walk and went to an as-yet-unexplored area of Azrou. I said that Arzou has grown on me - it had a lot going for it. She said I should have asked for it and I said I didn't want to ask for it, because when we first got here the current volunteer here came to talk to us and mentioned some of his struggles with his counterpart and his work situation. She told me that other people had asked for it and I said that was fine - I wouldn't mind being here, but I didn't love it enough to ask for it. It does have a lot going for it, though - you can get what you need here.
You can see where this is leading, I bet.

We walked into the conference room and there was dramatic music playing. Each person got a pushpin with a small picture of his/her face on it (I must post a picture of this - maybe Sunday - it's cute). The Program Manager and Program Assistant (also the Training Coordinator) had the big map of Morocco in the front of the room - the one with all the pushpins showing where the current volunteers are. Tonight was our night to become pushpins (the current volunteers are faceless...). First, she announced three sites way, way in the east, near Algeria - the people who are getting those looked a little shellshocked. A Tamazight speaker near Azrou. Someone near the Atlantic but off on her own. Three people right near Marrakesh. A couple more Tamazighe speakers, in the high Atlas. Two in a row from my CBT group, way down south in the Sahara (one of whom was pushing for that, the other of whom is shellshocked). Beautiful green valley, near camels. I want to visit! Then - Azrou. Me! As people were first announced there was applause, which lessened as people got their purple folders and started reading about their sites, but I think there was some applause for me. I told people they were welcome to stay here anytime (but later told them it's BYOB, since alcohol is not culturally sensitive here - plus I've had enough in the past ten years). Another person near Azrou (I really like all of the people who are close by). Then a few between here and Rabat, a couple of whom are in the biggest urban sites (both young women - so much for that rumor). One guy near the beach resort area of Essouaria (apparently he looks like the departing volunteer who is there - not that had anything to do with his placement, right?). Three more Tamarzight speakers, south of the high Atlas, one in an oasis. Another desert locale. One in the west, a bit isolated. The other person in my CBT site in Sefrou, site of a cherry festival and not far from me, and last but not least, someone just east of her.

I was unemotional before the announcement but shaking afterwards. I think I'm relieved more than anything. Actually, I'm happy. I realized - but didn't voice - that what I really wanted (assuming that I'd have electricity and running water) was the ability to get around and see other parts of Morocco, and internet. Actually, I think I said that from the very beginning, in my site placement questionnaire, in one of my first blog entries. And now I will have that. I'm about an hour away (I think) from Fes and Meknes (by the way I keep meaning to mention that I have yet to see someone wearing a Fez). Maybe two hours from Marrakesh. Gateway to the middle Atlas right here - hiking and mountains. I need boots and warmer clothes, but I can get some sent or buy a "Thee North Face" puffy coat. I'm also really happy that people will be coming through here - from the smaller towns nearby and from the remote sites, on the way to other things. And next year's training will be here so I can get to know the new crop. Aziz, who runs the Auberge, is very nice, and he knows everyone and will be a good resource. He knows my new homestay family - he said they're about 200 yards away (very possibly in the nice neighborhood where I just was this afternoon). So I don't have to roll my little carry-on all the way up the hill towards the grand taxi station. I'll be only 40 minutes from TimHdit so I can visit my current family (who have invited me anytime). The current volunteer here is great - I am looking forward to spending time with him in the next week. I thanked the Program Manager and Assistant and he told me he thought it would be a good site for me, working with the artisana.

So I don't have the thrill of the new, but I will as I explore more. I also don't have the shellshocked look some people have. I called my sister and when I walked back into the living room, everyone was on computers looking up their sites. Someone remarked,"I guess you don't have to do any research" and someone else said, "we all hate you." Which of course I took as a compliment.

Time to give someone else a turn to write to their adoring public...and time to go to bed....if I can get any sleep.

We're so excited,
You've been invited,
We know, We know,
You'll go to Azrou!

(apologies to any Follies writers whose work I have just massacred!)
I like it! I think I might feel inspired to work on some haiku this week!
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