Sunday, November 05, 2006


I saw some footage of the New York City Marathon and got a little teary-eyed - unexpectedly. It's hard to believe that two months ago today I was walking in Central Park, right by the finish line, right where the people who were interviewed for the footage (French TV, ergo French people - oh, I wish I could have done that in French and not in Latin) were stretching. Maybe (inshallah) when I return I shall run it. Marrakesh marathon next year? Not if I don't do any running, and the jury is still out on that. The main road here is way too busy (not to mention its slope). Other roads may be too off-the-beaten-track. Many of the incidents of the safety-and-security variety happen to famale volunteers alone doing morning exercise. It's not worth it. On the other hand; maybe I can make friends and run with them.

Speaking of safety-and-security, I had my first unwanted attention on Thursday; As I was on my way to the pasha (town quivalent of rural caid) a man came up to me who wanted to talk in English. I tried to be friendly but not too friendly, especially when he mentioned green card. He said he would wait for me and I told him not to, that I had a lot of other things to do. And he didn't. So that's good. I saw him again today - along with a man who helped me in the police station and someone else I met with Lee (but I didn't remember his name or story). So Azrou is a pretty small place after all.
Yesterday I went to Meknes with my host family - a big city. Doctors' appointments (the hospital in Azrou is nicer than the one in TimHdit but the people with means go to Meknes...bottom line is I hope not to get really sick - though if I do I think I would get summoned to Rabat; Lee did last week with tonsillitis - and remember, I was medically restricted to a place with good health care because of my cataracts - if I didn't tell that story way back when I should have). Then to a cousin of the family, who has a new baby. And then Marjane - so now I know what is there. They do indeed have good cheese, and things for the home that I might not be able to find here. But it's a schlep, so I wouldn't go often, and I would really have to think about what I need so much that I am willing to carry it back. The cousin lived in the new part of town; we went by the old part of town too, with a big wall and a big square and a big medina - definitely worth another visit. I was glad to get back to Azrou though - a comfortable size. I explained to my family that we are not allowed to travel at night, penalty being sent home; we cut it a little close but made it back safe and sound. That's a big restriction, especially in the winter, but you just have to plan for it.

On Friday, Barbara, the trainee from the nearest town, Ain Leuh, came in to meet Lee's tutor. Lee went to Ain Leuh weekly as part of his job, since it falls under the provincial boundaries, but I don't know that I would be doing so, since she is there (he also went to TimHdit before Katie got up to speed). Barbara has an interesting background - she is from New York and lived for 15 years in Indonesia, drawing, freelancing and doing photography. She'll come in twice a week for tutoring, as Katie does now. Katie usually stops by Lee's - and I guess she will now stop by my place, as will Barbara. All guests welcome! As I have seen some other places I realiwe what a find Lee's might be. Still, I think I have to look around. I also think I have to find my own place - even if I live there, I think it would always be Lee's place. Of course, if I don't see anything as nice I could get over that.

After Barbara left, Lee and I had couscous with one of his artisans, at a friend's house. My host mother didn't like the sound of my going to eat with men, but she was all right with it when I told her Lee would be there, and the family of the friend. Most of Lee's contacts and relationships are with men - I still have to write my gender piece but that is not a surprise. Everyone seemed very open and comfortable about the idea of working with me, and I had told Tariq (the Program Assistant who cqme to interview me) that I have worked with men in the past, but I also think I want/need to develop relationships with some of the women he introduced me too (and/or find more). After lunch, we went to the artisan's shop. He's a rock carver - he puts together boxes of minerals of Morocco and carves lamps and sculptures. He might be Lee's number-one success story - very receptive to small business development. He sold a lot at a fair in Rabat last December and wants to go back - we'll see if I can go too but since it's right after swearing-in I will understand if I can't. He and Lee worked on some postcards to print and on a brochure; Friday's meeting was to do the finishing touches, the French translation. Youssef, the carver, had had a friend translate, and Lee knew enough French to question some of the words, and some other friends of Youssef caame by with their opinion. Lee then went away for a few days, leaving it with me - my first project; on-site visit! Remember I wish I had used French instead of Latin above? Well, it would have come in handy for that too - I do think I will ask for French tutoring after Darija (or maybe pay for it on my own - I decided I want to learn basic greetings in Tamarzight too, since moe than one person told me that a few words would go a long way). Anyway, I ran it through spell-check to get the accents on it (no easy task, Bill Gates), had my host mother look at it to see if it looked all right, went to an internet cafe to get it from USB drive to CD, and brought it back to the shop today. Voila! (at least I know a little French...actually mon petit peu was helpful in the police station and with the basha).

I spent a good portion of the day trying to load my host family's iPod. Some good friends gave me an iPod as a going-away present (have I told this story?) but I did not have time to load it so they did. Meaning I have never done it for myself. I downloaded iTunes in French so it would be easier for my host family but it made it more challenging for me. They have CD/DVDs and a couple of them I couldn't open in iTunes at all (unrecognizable format) and the others I am not at all sure I did right; And it took a long time - I couldn't select more than one file at a time. I am going to see if someone in my group can help. It took a lot of the day, but not all day - I also did have some much-needed time to myself, to sleep a little late (well, long - yesterday tired me out so I went to bed at eight and woke up at eight - I have had more days of substantial sleep in the past two months than in years!), read some of "The Roles of the Volunteer in Development" (noticing that the title said Roles - I think I had called it Role before) and work on my self-made darija dictionary (which reminds me to mention that after Lee got tutoring in darija he got some in Modern Standard Arabic - another option for me, but I think French and Tamarzight - and writing! - might be moe of a priority for me). Tomorrow is a travel day. I don't have far to go, of course, back to the Auberge in Azrou - so I can get a jump on laundry and on getting settled. I learned that someone from Youth Development ET'd today - will get more scoop on that too. I have been in touch with some friends through texting, e-mail and a call or two - looking forward to seeing everyone again and hearing stories. It's almost to the point where the number of days we'll all be together can be counted on hands; the last few days before swearing-in we'll be with the YD people too - and then we scatter...but first, one more phase in TimHdit, starting at the end of the week. Tomorow is also a (secular) holiday here, Green March Day. I'll leave you to google it since it involves a part of the country we are not supposed to talk about. I shall miss staying up late and watching election returns on Tuesday, one of my favorite rituals (usually accompanied by ice cream - something I have not had in two months; the ice cream from Marjane is supposed to be very good but I didn't find that out until after I said I didn't want any). I have a friend in the group who is planning to stay up late and watch the returns on the internet; me, I'll wait until the next day - but I am eager to know who wins the contested races!

Hmm, I think keeping up with your blog is much more entertaining than whatever I _should_ be doing!

On WETA (DC NPR station) this evening there was a great radio documentary about leaving Peace Corps. If you ever have good internet access (and if you haven't already heard it), it's at Very entertaining.

I am passing on my copy of the definitive Arabic-English dictionary - the Hans Wehr Diction of Modern Written Arabic. Are you learning written Arabic? Would you like it? Is there a way to get it to you? Let me know.
Oops, that URL got cut off. So here is it on several lines - just merge them to one:
I am hoping to learn written Arabic, but the priority is spoken, and darija (Moroccan Arabic) is different from Modern I will hold off for now. Thanks for thinking of me! I'll try to listen to the NPR show but that's not so easy. Thanks!
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