Saturday, October 14, 2006


This is my bed at homestay. To make the beds here (both at the Auberge and at my host family, so perhaps all of Morocco) they put the bottom sheet on the bed as we would, fold the top sheet up and leave it by the pillow, and roll the blanket up and leave it at the foot of the bed. The bottom is my room at the Sheikh's - a big room tucked in the back of the house. Actually, the picture shows just half of it. I think when I'm not there it's for guests and parties. They have a couple of rooms off the living room - one is now the dining/TV room (they changed it from the living room for Ramadan) and the other I have seen them pray in but don't know if they use it for other things.

I feel I might have used Small Business Development in a haiku before. What can I say - it has seven syllables. I thought of that in the middle of the night, so I came up with some more (that I somehow remembered this morning):

Is the night quiet?
Donkeys, roving dogs, roosters
It's anything but

Horn at three a.m.
Fasters will wake up and eat
Then go back to sleep

We had the session on transportation safety today. Morocco is the #1 or #2 country in terms of auto crash fatalities in the world (per capita). A volunteer was killed two years ago in a bus accident. There are lots of rules - preferred modes of transport and some prohibited, no inter-city travel at night (so if you're on the way somewhere and can't make it by nightfall you have to stop and stay in a hotel). There's a holiday called Eid Kebir that occurs two months after Ramadan (it marks the end of the Hajj to Mecca) that's like Christmas in the U.S. - people visit family and there are lots of traffic accidents - so we are prohibited from travelling at all during that time. If we wanted to go on vacation we'd have to leave before and come back afterwards - this year it falls during our site homestay so we're not allowed to leave anyway, but it happens that it's also December 28 to January 8 - so if we wanted to see fellow volunteers in other sites for New Year's we couldn't, and it also means no fellow Americans on my birthday. Next year it's eleven days earlier.

Last night's session on Moroccan music was fun - there is a real mix of styles, instruments, sounds, beats and dances in the various regions. I was a little shy about dancing myself (as I have been for most of my life, with occasional exceptions) but I have a chance to make up for it tonight - there's a Prince dance party on the roof. Apparently Prince is much revered by the younger crowd here...maybe like '60's music is for us? I might be able to dance to 1999 but I can't think of how you could dance to Purple Rain, When Doves Cry or for that matter Little Red Corvette...and that's all I can come up with without thinking about it. The dance party is after dinner, which means close to bedtime, so we'll see how long I last. I told them I'd rather do games night, especially since Scrabble last night turned into Yahtzee, but I may yet dance...I have succeeded in lowering expectations so if I do anything other than sit on the couch on the side people will be happy for me.

One of the artists in the group is also a yoga therapist, so tomorrow she is holding a somatics class (body movement). I found out about last night's class too late; that was on the lower back. Tomorrow's is neck and shoulder - right where I have my stress - so sign me up! Good self-directed learning (last seminar time we had a session on managing stress so it actually would count). I think I'll also do a photography walk and then some reading and some work on my dictionary...and see if I can find someone who wants to play games!

The new Peace Corps Director is coming from Washington, D.C. to Morocco in November. He's going to visit one of the other CBT sites (not TimHdit) - what a great opportunity for the people there! He'll be in the country for four days and then go on to Jordan.

It hasn't rained here at all - a couple of days I thought it would but it never did. I like the washes the memories away from the sidewalks of life (Woody Allen quote/private joke from high school days). Seriously - I would welcome some rain. That may fall into the category of be careful what you wish for if I end up in a site with a rainy season. So maybe I take it back.

It's almost time for a haircut. There are two people in the group who cut hair (when they said in the Welcome Book that there's usually someone in every group who can cut hair, I found it hard to believe, but maybe it's true). I'm going to see if I can get through the next CBT phase without it driving me crazy, and then get it cut before swearing in at the end of training. Getting it highlighted is going to be another hurdle - I think I can wait until I get to my site, but maybe I will look into what my options are here...

I think I'll do some reading now and let someone else use this computer..and mentally prepare myself to dance...

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Did you have Mastermind there to play? We spent hours on that in college!
No Mastermind...but there's a person here with a backgammon set - another thing we spent hours on and I haven't played in while! I looked for one of those backgammon sets that collapses into a tube before I left but decided to make do with what I had (cards, Yahtzee, and - well, I did buy a mini-Boggle keychain. Almost got mini-Scrabble for myself after I got it for a friend but I decided it would lead to too much eyestrain.
I think you should celebrate your 1/2 birthday then...
I was thinking that too - and talking about July 4 is a good way to fulfill goal #2 of the Peace Corps, sharing American culture with people here.
My LCF, Mina, got all excited that my birthday was the same as hers - but hers is 1-4 meaning April 1, in the European style of day-month
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