Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I spent yesterday afternoon and most of today with "Motasim," the current volunteer. I think I talked about a six-year cycle - one volunteer starts something, another continues, the third one finishes and the community should be sustaining the project on its own. I am the fifth SBD volunteer here; this is a provincial capital. The first one, not sure what happened. The second one was evacuated after Iraq began. The third didn't like the cold here and left after a couple of months. Lee will be the first to complete two years. Wherever we walked we ran into people he knew; he did a great job of integrating and is great with the language. He introduced me to many of the artisans he works with and pointed out others with whom there is a lot of opportunity. For example, we passed a women's center where they do a lot of sewing (they also padlock themselves in...at least they are near the fire station but still) and we went to another place where they teach women sewing and healthy cooking. He never really got anything started with them or with the weaving cooperative right in the artisana. On the other hand, he was very involved with a male rock carver who seems very open to the idea of working with me, and we went to a carpet shop where the men were very friendly, so maybe I can continue some of Lee's work and start projects of my own. My best idea (which I had before I knew this would be my site) is to develop a regional weaving tour where you visit TimHdit, Ain Leuh and some of the other cooperatives nearby - a nice day of travel for people coming in for vacation (yes, like a winery tour). I get ahead of myself though; all we are really supposed to do for the first few months is integrate, and then based on the relationships we develop and the interest of the people, we start a project. So today was a full day, and in a way I can say I didn't get much done; but in the goal of integration I got a lot done, and I will have a lot of days like this to come. It's nice that everyone goes home for lunch; I can too. It's nice to see the family and take a break and have delicious food. Meals so far have been an eggplant dip for which I must get the recipe (can also be made with peppers), ground beef with onions and tomatoes in a tagine, vermicelli with cinnamon and confectioner's sugar (try it!), quince with beef. All with fresh fruit for dessert - clementines, my favorite, are in season - and I had my first-ever pomegranate.
As I walk around I am thinking about where to live. I am with the homestay family this week and then for two months after swearing-in. I just wrote a long treatise on it which has disappeared into the ether so I will have to re-create it.
The picture is of me, Lee and Katie - three generations of Peace Corps! The view is from his roof...