Wednesday, November 01, 2006
As I was saying...I walk around paying more attention because I am thinking of where I might want to live. With my host family, I am in the new part of town - it was fruit orchards not long ago. I'm familiar and comfortable here since it is near the Auberge - I know the daily souk and the other stores around here, the post office and the ATM. The houses are mostly three stories high, some with sloping tile roofs (Lee has a great roof terrace with a view of the mountains and the city - not to mention a clothesline...I must have a roof. His criteria were a roof and his own door). Lee lives in the old part of town, near the medina, the artisana, the other post office and bank, the grand taxi and bus stations, and has a daily and small weekly souk nearby (the big weekly souk is far from both). My family has already said I can stay the whle two years (some volunteers do), but I told them I am used to living on my own. My mom also said that her mom would miss me if I were not close by (an interesting strategy) and I told them that if I were not close by that I would visit a lot. The old part of town is a 20-minute walk up the hill from here. Think of the old part as downtown, the Village, SoHo) and the new part as uptown (even though uptown is down the hill and vice versa); There is also an area down a long set of steps between here and there that I call Queens. There's another old neighbrohood around the bend from the old neighborhood that I call New Jersey (I think that is what is pictured in one of the photos from when I first got here). And there is a section with big house and trees near the former French administration buildings - I guess that would be Westchester. Now that I think of it, there may be a Brooklyn, too. For me the choice is uptown or downtown though, and even though at the moment I feel more comfortable uptown, I think it makes sense to be downtown. Not that a 20-minute walk is so bad; I should point out that we had a cold spell but it is still balmy. Lee said it never really gets below 25 degrees F, though it does snow...so maybe I brought the right clothes after all. Anyway, I don't have to decide now - that's part of the reason we have a two-month homestay, so we can get familiar and look around. Meanwhile Lee said I could take over his P.O. Box, which is in the old part of town, so I will have an address (which I will give out when I have a key).
Yesterday was a full day but in one way I can't say I got a lot done. We walked around different sections and talked to people. Of course it was crucial to introduce myself, but this is what a lot of the first few months will be like. I will visit people every day and talk with them and accept invitations to tea and meals and then determine who could use my help and who I click with and who is interested in working with me. Yesterday was the kind of day it is all about. Lee said the person who is in Azrou needs to be outgoing and active and willing to speak Arabic, that maybe you can be more shy in a rural site because they look out for you. He also said that the good points of Azrou are its position as a crossroads and accessibility to other places and the green trees of the mountains behind the city, where the hiking is. He did his training in the desert, in Ouarzazate, which everyone tells me is beautiful (it's where they film all the movies) but there's no green. Azrou is a place that a lot of Moroccans (including those who live in Europe, who are buying the new construction next to the Auberge) come to spend some time in the summer because it is cooler than other places. Another volunteer also told me it's considered a plum site. The program directors caution against site envy - as I said way back when, there are pluses and minuses to every location and work situation. I have been texting some of my friends this week - one is uncomfortable with her family, one walked three hours because the bridge was washed out and killed a snake, one is in "hashish-a-go-go" and can see why the person before him was an ET (just a couple of weeks ago). I'm one of four people who is replacing someone COSing (close-of-service) and feel lucky to overlap and be shown around and introduced.
A busy day ahead today. Sometime this week I will meet a PCV from the environment sector whose site is seven km away. I need go to to the bashouria (government office - city equivalent of caid/sheikh), the hospital, and yes, back to the police station to get a contact number. Katie from TimHdit is coming in for tutoring and I will meet her tutor - though one of the people Lee introduced me to yesterday could also tutor and I really liked him. My mom also offered to tutor, but I think if I get someone else I can benefit from having my tutor and my host mom helping me. I also want to get knitting needles and yarn so I can get a refresher from one of the trainees who knits (my fellow Chicagoan...and a guy), a pumice stone for my feet, and toothpaste (Colgate Great Regular Flavor is on its way but I may need a small tube of something else in the meantime). Plus I want to find a notebook for my littlest brother since he keeps taking mine and pretending to write in it (I always have it out so I can write down words as they come up). I may stop at the carpet store I visited a couple of days ago too, to meet the brother of the man I met Monday. This may not sound like a full day to you but it is. In fact, some of that may spill into tomorrow; Lee is away today but back tomorrow so I want to spend more time with him. The sky looks gray; there have been a few sprinkles the last two days (all when I have been on Lee's roof having coffee) but it hasn't rained. It rained, not too hard, one day in TimHdit and one night at the auberge after an afternoon when I just didn't feel like doing laundry (in other words, everyone's clothes were still wet) but it hasn't rained hard at all since I got here seven weeks ago (has it really been just seven weeks?). I would welcome rain, but since I left my umbrella in the storage room and have all those plans for today, maybe not today.
Some postscripts based on e-mail:
The trees near here are confierous (juniper, cedar, maybe pine) so no fall foliage; they are quite fragrant. There were some trees turning yellow by the river in TimHdit; I bet they will all have fallen off by the time we get back.
My sore throat is gone but I have a lingering dryness/slight cough/runny nose. I wonder if it is allergies. The doctor will be here next week for flu shots and I will ask then (I always get the flu shot).
My sadness passed; I knew it would. It helped me to write about it. Thanks.
I love this picture. It's Lalla, the grandmother, next to a picture of herself (looks like 60s to me). I don't have a picture of the whole family together yet.